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Why do I need a home inspection?
The answer is for your own protection. That’s true whether you’re a buyer or a seller. A home inspection alerts both owner and seller to problems with the integrity of the structure that could be cause for dissatisfaction after sale. Besides, a great many lenders require a home inspection as part of their mortgage agreement.
For sellers, a “pre-inspection” by an inspection professional can forestall last minute problems with an otherwise smooth contract negotiation. They can make any necessary repairs before the house is even shown , so minor flaws don’t turn into major hassles with a prospective buyer. What’s more, an upfront inspection could even prevent legal action by a disgruntled buyer down the road.
THE TWO TYPES OF INSPECTION CONTINGENCIES:
With a general contingency inspection clause the buyer has an allotted number of days to have a professional conduct a home inspection. The inspector’s report informs the seller of any problem areas—a compromised roof, evidence of termites, mold, electrical problems, etc.—and the seller has an agreed upon time to respond. The seller may opt to make repairs, lower the price, or compromise on fixing some flaws and not fixing others. But with the general contingency, the buyer can back out of the deal for just about any shortcoming flagged in the report. The contract is then null and void.
Sellers’ interests are more considered by the specific contingency inspection clause. Under it, the buyer doesn’t have such an easy out. Specific criteria are enumerated that allow the buyer to abandon the deal such as an owner’s unwillingness to remedy a problem found during inspection. But if the owner agrees to fix the problem in a timely manner, the deal is still valid.
DEAL WITH PROFESSIONALS.
The professional society which sets standards for the industry is The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Its members are bonded, licensed and insured adding a level of confidence in the reports they generate for home buyers/sellers.
WHAT THEY WILL INSPECT?
- Central air conditioning
- Insulation and ventilation
- Structural components
- Exterior integrity
- Interior integrity
WHAT THEY DON’T DO?
You shouldn’t expect to learn about every little imperfection from a professional inspector. They take a broad view. Look at systems. Evaluate the “functioning” aspects of a home, not the cosmetics. So don’t expect a report on peeling paint or broken shades.
And don’t expect your inspector to do any repairs. Or explain why something is broken. Find your own contractors to make them. It might even be a conflict of interest for an inspector to recommend a company for repairs.
Remember, your inspector is evaluating the house on the day he or she does a walk through. He cannot project how long a system will be in operating condition and he really shouldn’t offer an opinion on its longevity.
SO YOU WANT THE HOUSE NO MATTER WHAT?
With bidding wars going on for many properties in hot markets today, buyers will sometime forego an inspection contingency to sweeten their offer. This can be risky, but it can also be the reason you walk away with the contract on your dream home and not someone else.
It’s still smart to have an inspection; just make it a non contingency inspection. That way you’ll be aware of any problem areas and be in a better position to plan for them financially. Also, you’ll have evidence that a “problem” arose post-purchase should you opt to buy a homeowner’s warranty policy on your new home. Most such policies will not cover “pre-existing” conditions, and your inspection can validate that the system was working fine when you bought.