You found the right house. You put in your offer, and it was accepted. Congratulations. But now, it‚Äôs time to hire a home inspector to go over every inch it ‚Äď inside and out ‚Äď to make sure everything you see and don‚Äôt see won‚Äôt develop major problems once it‚Äôs your house.Click to see today's rates (Sep 23rd, 2017)
A home inspector can protect you and your money by showing you where things are past their prime, or if something is in great shape. The inspection isn‚Äôt for the lender, the real estate agent or the seller.
It‚Äôs for you ‚Äď the buyer. And it's a big deal.
‚ÄúRemember that you are making a very big buying decision, and it‚Äôs not just about how things are working right now, but how you maintain the home and what the home will need from you once you move in,‚ÄĚ says Mary Anne Tonini, owner and certified home inspector at Home Inspection of Kentuckiana.
She is among many inspectors across the country certified through the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), which promotes continuing education for inspectors and a standard of practice and code of ethics.
Tonini says that the ASHI search tool is a great place to start to find a list of inspectors in your state or area that belong to the nonprofit professional organization. Also, you can ask friends or business acquaintances to recommend a home inspector they have used that did a good job.
Look at Yelp and Home Advisor reviews. People can complain very easily, Tonini says. But really pay attention to what they are saying.
‚ÄúIf they say, ‚Äėthis person doesn‚Äôt like his job and didn‚Äôt show me anything,‚Äô that‚Äôs bad,‚ÄĚ she says.
Also, your real estate agent and lenders might have a list of inspectors with good reputations who they have worked with in the past. But be aware that some agents might not suggest the most thorough inspectors, she says.
‚ÄúSome Realtors will never suggest the best inspectors around because something those inspectors find might stop the deal,‚ÄĚ Tonini adds.
"If you are worried about finding an inspector with experience," says Nick Gromicko, founder¬†of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, "Hire a Certified Master Inspector (the top professional designation in the industry).¬† Certified Master Inspectors had to complete at least 1,000 fee-paid inspections.
"If you are worried that the local inspector the real estate agent recommended will write a soft report to please that local real estate agent, do this: Hire a home inspector from out of town, one who isn‚Äôt beholden to any local real estate agents.¬† Offer to pay that home inspector extra for drive time."
The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies by area just like the price of housing, according to ASHI. Also, the inspection fee may vary depending on the size of the house, its age and possible optional services such as septic, well or radon testing.
The cost of a home inspection is very small relative to the value of the home being inspected, Tonini says.
Home Advisor says it costs an average about $315 to hire a home inspector. But condos and homes under 1,000 square feet can cost as little as $200.
Larger homes over 2,000 square feet will run $400 or more. Tests for radon, termites, mold, lead, and asbestos along with a sewer scope test will add to that cost, but typically those tests will cost less if you purchase them with a home inspection.
Just make sure your inspector has specialized certification to do any of these extra tests you require.
Tonini says that crawl spaces are kind of nasty, but it‚Äôs one of those places she needs to go during an inspector. She also has to walk on roofs, maneuver around people‚Äôs furniture and dogs, and climb into tight attic spaces.
‚ÄúThe inspection will include a comprehensive overview of all the major mechanical and structural systems of the home,‚ÄĚ she says.
Those items include plumbing, foundation, roof, attic, fireplaces, air conditioner and furnace, attic and appliances, along with a general look at the interior and exterior of the home.
"New buyers," Says Nick Gromicko, "should realize that every home has defects, even brand new homes.¬† New buyers should also realize that a seller is under no obligation to fix or address every defect revealed by a home inspection."
A buyer should probably only demand the seller address four types of issues:
Inspectors do their job without peeling up carpet, drilling holes in walls, prying up roofing or damaging anything in the house. If more invasive investigations are needed, they cannot be completed without written consent from the homeowner.
The average home takes about 3-4 hours to cover all the spots, Tonini says. If your house is smaller, then less time, and if it‚Äôs a mansion, it can take a lot longer.
Most inspectors want the potential buyers to be with them during the inspection to explain the good, the bad and the ugly of the house they are potentially buying. Tonini accommodates their schedules by even doing inspections on the weekends, to make sure her clients are with her during the inspection.
‚ÄúIf you don‚Äôt show up and read my report on paper, that‚Äôs stressful. It‚Äôs like if you spent $400 for a class, and then just got somebody‚Äôs notes. That‚Äôs not the same as taking the class,‚ÄĚ she says.
Tonini hands her clients a handwritten report when the inspection is done. She later sends an electronic copy of the entire inspection along with photos. But by tagging along with your inspector, you can get the highlights of the report by just understanding all the systems.
‚ÄúFor instance, I teach them where the water valve shut off is. In ten year, if they are still in the house, and they need to shut the water off because a pipe burst in the basement, they will remember exactly how to do it and where it is,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúYou can‚Äôt get that in a report.‚ÄĚ
"What isn‚Äôt covered, " says Nick Gromicko, "Are issues that were intentionally covered up.¬† A home inspector isn‚Äôt a fraud investigator and a home inspection report is only supplementary to the seller‚Äôs disclosure."
Inspectors should be checking everything that is visible. But Tonini adds that they don‚Äôt inspect swimming pools or security systems.
Also, inspectors are not engineers, plumbers, electricians or contractors. They can‚Äôt guarantee anything.
Inspectors are trained eyes that are hired to report any type of possible problems or risks that lurk in the home. They can also¬†describe a building's condition and predict how long it might last.
"And if a consumer is really worried," says Gromicko, "The inspection industry has an optional 'We‚Äôll Buy Your Home Back' guarantee: ¬†www.nachi.org/buy.¬† The consumer can occupy the home for 90 days and if the inspector missed something, we‚Äôll unwind the entire deal for the consumer."
When competing fiercely for homes in hot markets, buyers may be tempted to waive the inspection and submit a "cleaner"offer. Is this wise?
Nick Gromicko says there is a way to make sellers happy while protecting yourself.
"Have your agent write up an inspection rider to the sales agreement that states something like: ¬†Buyer can only cancel the sales agreement if the home inspector finds issues totaling $XXXX.XX or more to repair.
"That way, a seller who knows his/her house is in fairly good condition will still accept the buyer‚Äôs offer with the inspection contingency.¬† A seller who is hiding a major defect will reject the offer, and that‚Äôs just as well for the buyer."
As a home buyer, you should be looking for an inspector who will be thorough and rigorous. That might mean ignoring your real estate agent's recommendation. It also might require you to pay a little extra.
When getting a home inspection it's a¬†good time to remember the adage that 'you get what you pay for'.
"Shop price," Gromicko contends. "I know this sounds crazy, especially after a home buyer has been shopping for a home, adding up closing costs and comparing mortgage interest rates. But if you pay only a couple hundred dollars for a home inspection, you are likely going to get a patty-cake inspection."
Spending more upfront can give you more peace of mind, helping you to rest assure that your potential investment has been carefully looked over before you buy.
"The most qualified home inspectors and CMIs (Certified Master Inspectors) do more, deserve more, and yes, generally charge a little more. He/She may only charge an extra $100 more than the cheapest home inspector in town, but for what is likely the most expensive purchase of your life, spend that extra $100."
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.
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