It's easy to get caught up in the rush of home-buying, especially if you've found "the one" - your dream home - and you want to secure it ASAP. And, if you're in a seller's market, you might also be anticipating some competition, so the more you can do to smooth the deal, the better, right?
Well...not always. One thing which buyers sometimes choose to forgo in an attempt to speed a deal along is the home inspection. This is a big mistake...
Why should you get a home inspection?
Well, a home is more than what you're likely to see in an open-house tour, where you might be taken in by the dressing, the features, and all the surface stuff. But that's only half the story. A house is a system, a machine, like a car. And just like a car, though it may have a desirable and flashy exterior, there's still a lot going on under the hood which is just as, if not more important.
After all, if a home doesn't keep you warm, safe, and in good financial shape, what good is it for?
So, the first takeaway should be this: Get a home inspection.
You should, however, have some questions. Read on to find out more...
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an in-depth visual inspection of a home's various systems, structures, fittings, components and so on. Inspectors look for, assess, and provide information on damage, life span, needed repairs or maintenance, as well as useful operating advice.
A lot of this information will be contained in a detailed report that inspectors are usually required to give.
It's important to remember that practically every house has a problem of some kind. The important thing is knowing what you're getting into, what you can manage, and how to manage it.
What Are The Benefits of a Home Inspection?
There are many benefits to having a home inspection...
For buyers, a home inspection provides useful information that might affect the decision of whether to buy, how much to buy for, and what to do once a house is bought, like needed repairs or maintenance.
For example, if you get an inspection and still want to go through with the purchase, you can use the information to make a list of expected repairs, maintenance, and replacements, and factor that into your budget.
Information from a home inspection can also be vital in effective price negotiations, with the possibility of saving a significant amount of money in the long run.
For sellers, a pre-sale inspection can provide a significant marketing point for a home. It will also provide useful information for marking the home at the right price, encouraging a quicker sale. And if you don't do it, savvy buyers will, potentially extending the sales process.
Getting a Home Inspection Done
The first step in doing a home inspection is finding the right home inspector. The best place to look for referrals will be within your own circle of family and friends who have recent experience in the real estate market. Ask about who may have worked with in the past, what their experience was like, whether they were they satisfied or unsatisfied.
There are other sources for referrals, such as your lender, or your real estate agent.
Here are some other tips:
- Home inspections are typically done between an initial offer and the finalization of purchase
- When/if you make an offer, make it contingent on the results of a timely home inspection
- Tag along during the home inspection. Ask questions
- If it's your home being inspected, clear obstructions out from any relevant areas
Home Inspections - The Dirt
Home inspections are great, but they're not the perfect answer to all present and future home problems...
For a start, home inspectors can't do much more than poke around with a flashlight, so they can miss things hidden behind walls or under floors. Getting an experienced inspector is key, because they can often detect hidden problems.
If your inspector is seller or agent provided, they might have an incentive to "soften" their assessment, the reason being that they anticipate future business if they don't "rock the boat". You can either ensure that the inspection is done by someone working for you, read the report very carefully (they might be more honest there, to protect from liability), or request a guided walk-through for yourself.
Luckily, around Hampton Roads, home inspectors require certification. But you might still want to make sure that you get someone with extra experience, preferably in engineering or the building industry.
Home inspectors don't check everything. Getting a home's energy efficiency, disaster readiness, or potential toxicity assessed might require another specialist - make sure you know exactly what your inspector is checking and what they aren't.
When to get a home inspection
Most of what I've written here has been from the perspective of a buyer, but there are other times when it makes sense to get a home inspection...
If you're renovating, a home inspection will let you know where the most important places to concentrate your money and efforts are.
As mentioned before, if you're selling your home, an inspection builds trust, is a good marketing point, and can just smooth the whole process more generally.
And finally, if you already own a home, getting it inspected will give you excellent direction on maintenance, repairs, renovations, and general operation.
So, just like you take your car to a mechanic, or take yourself to the doctor for a checkup, getting your home inspected is a great way to keep it in good working condition.
Bottom line: Get a home inspection!
If you have more questions, don't hesitate to contact us online or call (757) 623-2382