You just bought a house. Well, sort of. Pending the most stressful condition of the deal, for sellers and buyers - the home inspection! With home inspections, it seems there is a ton of different ways to view them. But for the sake of expediency, we have compiled our own list of important things to keep in mind in the event of you buying a home subject to home inspection:
1) While it's tempting to use a friend who knows a lot about homes, that usually doesn't end well. Listen, we do get the appeal...if they're a friend or relative they are trustworthy. But, compared to what? You and your friends? Sure. But it's hard for most people to know if that extends to the level of properly inspecting electrical, plumbing, structural integrity, etc. Even if they do know a lot, the good home inspectors are trained in categorizing serious issues/medium issues/small things to keep an eye on. Many times those friends and relatives do not possess this skill and just We recommend hiring someone who has a great local reputation, ideally one your REALTOR® stands firmly behind. If you don't trust your REALTOR® , that's a discussion for a different day, but probably should find a new agent in that case.
2) Be there. This might seem like common sense, but a lot of people don't make a concerted effort to attend the walkthrough with inspectors these days, since they provide comprehensive reports after each inspection. Do yourself a favour and show up! Those reports are huge and can be overwhelming for many people. Plus, if you don't show up you can't...
3) Ask questions. Most walkthroughs are around an hour long. That's a lot to digest. Stop him along the way, don't be afraid to ask for his advice on these fixes, in terms of difficulty, time, cost, all that.
4) And while we're at it, it's a wise idea to make notes of how much all of these fixes will likely cost. Keep a running talley. Sometimes you'll hear a ton of fixes throughout the walkthrough, and then calculate it's only a few thousand bucks. Other times it seems like there's only a few hiccups, but they'll run you ten-fifteen thousand. This is important, not just for your own budget calculations, but...
5) Sometimes the costs are significant enough you will have to take these complaints back to your agent and they will have to go to bat for you before the deal is closed. By this I mean, negotiate a cheaper price for the home in light of the new deficiencies detailed by the home inspection. Now, be careful with this one. It's not always up to the sellers to fix or to drop their price as a result of problems found in home inspections. Maybe they knew about them and priced accordingly. Maybe it's just things that come with buying a used house. Generally a good agent will be able to evaluate if these issues require a drop in price for the sale to go forth, but it's important for buyers to know, this is an option. Just because a price is agreed upon, doesn't mean it can't be altered following the home inspection. It also doesn't mean sellers are super willing to do this, following reports one of the kitchen drawers doesn't close properly. But, be aware this is a path you can go down if big, unexpected things are brought to your attention.
6) It's not a pass fail situation! We hear all the time "if it passes the home inspection". They aren't binary. They're paid to find things, and it's up to you to absorb that information consistent with your level of comfort.
7) The home inspector isn't (or shouldn't) tell you if you should buy the house. After a home inspection, it's up to you the buyer to discuss the issues long and hard with your REALTOR®. So many things are involved with the purchase of a home, the inspectors should never provide actual advice in regard to buying or walking. One time in a particularly rough house, the inspector found a rather large raccoon's nest in an already shoddy basement, and blurted out "I wouldn't live here!". But in 99.999% of cases, the inspector won't provide buying or selling advice and shouldn't be asked to do so.
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