Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial decisions most people will make in their lifetime. With home prices continuing to rise in many markets across the country, it's more important than ever to make sure you're making a sound investment when buying a property. This is where a professional Home Inspection Company can provide tremendous value.
The Importance of Understanding a Home's True Condition
When looking at homes to purchase, it's easy to get caught up in superficial details like staging, curb appeal, and decorative finishes. But beyond the cosmetic appearance, there are major systems and structural components that require a closer look by a trained eye. As a buyer, you want to have a clear understanding of a home's true condition to make sure there are no hidden defects, safety hazards, or items that may require expensive repairs down the road.
Home Inspection Company inspectors help remove the guesswork by thoroughly evaluating all aspects of the home. The inspection report they provide delivers an unbiased assessment to inform your purchasing decision.
What Exactly Does a Home Inspector Check?
Home inspections typically cover several major areas inside and outside the home:
Foundation - Checking for cracks, moisture issues, improper drainage, etc.
Framing - Looking for structural defects or failed load bearing components.
Roof - Evaluating shingles/materials, drainage, flashing, ventilation, etc.
Other major systems - HVAC, plumbing, electrical, attic, walls, floors, windows, doors, porches, stairs, ceilings, chimney, garage, grading, drainage, and more.
Smoke/CO detectors - Proper type, age, and functionality.
Electrical - Exposed wires, open junction boxes, defective breakers or fuses.
Plumbing - Leaks, burst pipes, improper venting, water pressure.
Structural issues - Damaged framing, cracked foundations, deteriorated decking.
Functionality of Systems
Electrical - All outlets, switches, fixtures, amperage, panels, and wiring.
Plumbing - Pipes, valves, fixtures, water flow, water heater, and drainage.
HVAC - Furnace, heat pumps, central air, ductwork, thermostats, and vents.
Water intrusion - Leaks from windows, flashing, roof, gutters, and exterior materials.
Built-in appliances - Oven, cooktop, microwave, dishwasher.
HVAC equipment - Furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, air handler.
Water heaters, sump pumps, garage door openers.
Overall Condition and Improvements
Windows and doors - Operation, frames, seals, hardware and locks.
Interior finishes - Walls, ceilings, floors, trim, caulking, paint.
Insulation levels and installation quality.
Fireplace/chimney - Operation, drafting, damper function, caps, masonry, gas start.
Grading and drainage - Proper slope, water pooling, downspouts, gutters.
Landscaping, patios, walkways.
Other improvements - Outbuildings, fences, retaining walls.
This extensive inspection provides valuable insights that can help guide your purchasing decision. The expertise of the Home Inspection Company takes the risk and uncertainty out of the equation so you can proceed confidently.
How Inspections Add Value Throughout the Transaction
There are several key ways a home inspection adds value before, during, and even after the purchase:
The inspection report provides objective data to support your offer price and negotiate credits or repairs from the seller. Without this information, you're at a disadvantage trying to estimate the true cost of deficiencies.
Ongoing Risk Reduction
The report provides essential information to address potential hazards, functionality and lifespan of systems, and other maintenance needs going forward. This allows better budgeting for repairs and replacement costs.
Making an Informed Decision
A home inspection lets you make the choice to move forward or walk away based on the home's revealed condition - not just assumptions. This prevents the regret of discovering issues after closing.
Sellers can remedy inspection findings in order to make the home more sellable. As a buyer, you can use repairs as negotiating points to improve the home's condition prior to purchase.
Due Diligence for Your Mortgage
Lenders want to see the inspection report to ensure the home's appraised value accurately reflects the property's current condition. Any adverse findings can impact loan approval.
Insight for Renovations/Improvements
If planning updates or renovations, the inspection highlights systems and areas to prioritize and budget for in upcoming projects to get the home where you want it.
Documentation for Insurance
Inspection reports frequently assist insurance underwriters in making policy decisions based on the home's current condition. Any exclusions often reference inspection findings.
Evaluating Common Home Inspector Findings
Home inspection reports detail any deficiencies found, along with actions recommended to address them. Here's how buyers can evaluate some typical report findings:
Minor Wear and Tear
Things like sticking doors, loose door knobs, worn caulking or minor cracks in walls/ceilings fall under normal wear and tear. These don't necessarily warrant repairs or credits, but note items to monitor or proactively address down the road.
If functional components like appliances, HVAC equipment, etc. are at or near the end of their useful life, plan to budget for replacement. Items still functioning but in marginal condition will likely need attention soon.
Safety Hazards/Code Violations
All serious safety issues like exposed electrical, lack of railings, dangerous mold/asbestos, structural concerns, etc. should be mandated repairs by the seller. These present not just financial risk, but also pose an injury threat before or after moving in.
Cosmetic issues or minor repairs like painting, gutter cleaning, grading, window replacement, etc. factor into price negotiation. Consider credits for items you plan to address immediately while living in the home.
Substantial issues like a failing roof or foundation require seller credits to fund the significant costs you'll incur. Requiring these repairs be completed prevents living in a construction zone during repairs.
Inspections sometimes reveal "deal breaker" defects signaling potential money pits, like extensive mold or termite damage, major foundation failure, inadequate wiring, and more. In these cases, it may be best to walk away.
Always get clear terms for credits or seller repairs in writing. Carefully weigh the findings in the full inspection report when negotiating the final price.
Selecting the Right Home Inspection Company
It's important to choose an experienced, qualified Home Inspection Company to conduct your buyers' inspection. Here are some tips for making the right selection:
Verify credentials: Look for licensed inspectors who follow strict industry standards. Check for certifications through InterNACHI, ASHI, or NAHI.
Seek referrals: Ask real estate agents, lenders, family and friends for inspector recommendations. Look for consistent glowing reviews.
Compare pricing: Quoted prices can range dramatically, but avoid choosing solely on price. A very low fee could signal an incomplete inspection.
Check sample reports: Ask to see previous reports to evaluate the detail, formatting, photography, and overall thoroughness.
Consider specialties: Some inspectors have additional expertise like commercial properties, newer construction, or unique structures. Match specialties to your property type.
Understand the process: Confirm details like typical inspection time, payment terms, how soon the report is delivered, and included follow-ups.
Request a WDI inspection: "Wood destroying insect" inspection checks for termites, carpenter ants, beetles and other pests. This is frequently a separate report.
Doing diligent research helps you select the right home inspector to work with and determine fair pricing. Be proactive in checking credentials, experience, and references.
Factoring Inspections Into Your Offer Price & Terms
Smart buyers use the inspection report to guide their offer terms by accounting for needed repairs and risks. Compare inspection estimated costs to similar homes for sale to determine fair pricing.
Here are strategies to factor in:
Submit contingent offers pending a professional inspection within a specified timeframe, typically 5-10 days. Do not waive the inspection contingency.
Negotiate credits from the seller to complete repairs or account for functional/safety issues revealed in the report findings. Get credit amount estimates from contractors.
Adjust offer price downward to account for inspection-revealed deficiencies and the future expense to repair them.
Require the seller to repair major defects before closing rather than accepting credits. This prevents delayed repairs or using money from your own funds later on.
Include a clause that you will walk away and get the earnest money deposit back if the inspection reveals expensive deal breakers.
If planning major renovations, request credits to help fund upcoming improvement projects like a kitchen overhaul.
Consider assuming responsibility for minor repairs you intended to make immediately, like paint touch-ups or landscaping. This shows willingness to compromise.
Be reasonable - minor wear and tear should be expected in any resale home. Focus requests on addressing functional and safety issues.
Get all agreements for repairs, credits, and terms in writing in the final contract before closing.
Working inspection findings into your offer terms and price allows you to procure the home at fair market value in its true current condition.
What to Do After Receiving the Inspection Report
Once the Home Inspection Company completes the inspection and provides their report, here are key next steps:
Review in detail - Read the entire report and flag any deficiencies flagged. Create a list of concerns and questions to clarify.
Meet with the inspector - If available, meet on-site to walk through findings. Ask them to point out issues and explain the severity.
Get contractor cost estimates - For major repairs like a new roof or HVAC system, get written bids from licensed contractors to support requested credits.
Present to seller - Share the report with the sellers and discuss serious issues in person. Present proposed solutions like repairs, credits, or price adjustments.
Consult your real estate agent - Discuss strategy for negotiating inspection findings. Let them handle presenting requests to the seller's agent.
Consider specialist inspections - For serious red flags on roof, foundation, mold etc., consider calling in a specialist for further analysis.
Address deal breakers - If there are any expensive issues causing you to reconsider, act quickly based on the inspection contingency in your offer.
Final walk-through - Do one final inspection right before closing to check seller-completed repairs and identify any new issues.
Thoroughly evaluating and acting on inspection findings ensures you have objective data to negotiate a fair deal and enter ownership eyes-wide-open about the home's condition.
How a Buyer's Inspection Differs from a Seller's Pre-Listing Inspection
Sellers will sometimes complete pre-listing home inspections. But those differ significantly from a buyer’s inspection, and should not be considered a substitute. Here are key differences:
Pre-listing inspections help sellers identify defects to proactively repair before listing the home. The goal is maximizing the home’s salability. Buyer's inspections empower buyers with objective data to evaluate the home’s true current condition.
Pre-listing inspections are completed months before a buyer steps foot in the home. Many latent defects are missed until the buyer's inspector performs diligent testing under furniture, fixtures, insulation, etc.
Buyer’s inspections provide leverage to negotiate credits and repairs. Sellers control the narrative with pre-listing inspections. They can dictate what repairs are made.
Pre-listing inspections may be more cursory as the goal is making repairs to enhance marketability. Buyer's inspectors dive deeper into all systems and components assessing safety, function and lifespan.
Inspections give buyers due diligence to walk away if issues arise. Pre-listing inspections only accomplish risk reduction for the seller, not the buyer.
While pre-listing inspections have benefits for sellers, buyers should still complete their own thorough independent inspection to gain a comprehensive understanding of the home’s condition. There is simply no substitute.
Common Signs It's Time for a Professional Inspection
Sometimes homeowners ignore warning signs of developing problems until it’s too late. Don’t risk expensive emergencies or hidden defects. Watch for these clues it may be time to call a professional home inspector:
Peeling exterior paint or spots of mold growth
New cracks in foundation or settling exterior bricks
Leaks, moisture or stains on walls, ceilings or basements
An uptick in utility costs without explanation
Increased pest sightings - ants, termites, mice, etc.
Odd smells from HVAC vents or near gas appliances
Sparking, frequently tripped breakers or electrical outlets
Unpleasant gurgling noises or sluggish drainage from plumbing
Furnace trouble heating the home to desired temperature
Visibly damaged roof shingles and granules collecting in gutters
Ignoring symptoms almost always leads to bigger problems. A home inspection helps identify issues before they escalate into headaches that drain both time and wallets.
Maintaining Your Home’s Value Through Regular Inspections
For homeowners, regular professional inspections provide tremendous value in protecting your investment and preventing costly emergency repairs.
Identify Deficiencies Before Listing
Selling your home goes smoother when you understand and address problems ahead of time rather than leaving it up to the buyer’s inspector.
Project Future Repair and Replacement Costs
Knowing which systems are aging allows you to financially plan and budget for eventual replacement.
Learn About Improvements
Inspectors may suggest upgrades to improve energy efficiency, functionality, aesthetics, safety and comfort.
Provide Insurance Inventory
Inspection reports frequently aid insurance claims by documenting your home’s pre-loss condition if disaster strikes.
Gain Peace of Mind
Inspections reduce worry by confirming your home's safety or flagging issues for correction to protect your family.
Tuning up HVAC equipment improves temperature consistency. Checking insulation levels helps regulate indoor climates.
Regular inspections provide tremendous risk reduction. A cost of a few hundred dollars annually is minimal compared to tens of thousands in emergency repairs.
Key Takeaways on the Value of a Home Inspection
A home is the biggest purchase most people ever make. Inspections empower smart decisions.
Inspectors check all components and systems, inside and out, to assess condition. Their expertise removes guesswork.
Reports provide objective data to negotiate repairs, credits, and pricing with sellers.
Inspections reveal issues to budget for future repairs and replacements.
Major hazards get flagged before move-in, improving safety and preventing big expenses later.
Regular inspections for homeowners reduce worry and protect property values.
Don’t rely on assumptions or appearances when buying or selling a home. The investment in a quality professional inspection delivers peace of mind and prevents regrets down the road. Work with a trusted Home Inspection Company to add value throughout your transaction.