Home Inspection: Everything Buyers and Sellers Should Know

Home Inspection: Everything Buyers and Sellers Should Know

The home inspection is a critical part of the home buying process… and for those who have never been through it before, it can be a little bit daunting. What should sellers expect from a home inspector’s presence on their property? And what do home buyers do with the inspection report that’s completed? We’ll answer each of these questions, and also provide a brief home inspection checklist.

Is a home inspection necessary?

First things first: Is this even something you need to worry about?

Generally speaking, the answer is yes. If you are a home buyer working with a mortgage company, your lender will require you to get a home inspection. This is a way in which the lender can protect their investment. And even if you’re paying for the home in cash, an inspection can give you greater peace of mind about the property.

Sometimes, sellers may actually pay for their own home inspection, helping them to assess any maintenance or repair issues they need to deal with before they list. This is not necessary, but in some instances may be helpful.

What is a home inspection?

Now let’s back up. When we talk about home inspections, what exactly are we talking about?

A home inspection is a visual inspection of a property, conducted by a licensed home inspector. The inspector will evaluate all of the physical, structural, and mechanical systems of the home, including things like the ceilings, roof, floors, windows, and doors, as well as major appliances.

Any issues will be noted in the home inspection report, which technically belongs to whoever paid for it (usually the buyer). This information may be used to negotiate a better sales price.

What does a home inspector look for?

What do home inspectors look for, exactly? This is important to know as you prepare for your home inspection. Here is a quick home inspection checklist.

  • Grounds. Your home inspector will consider whether the landscaping is properly sloped away from the house, and also address serious issues with trees, walkways, and septic fields.
  • Structures. Your home inspector will look for things like squared windows and doors, ensure the sides of the house do not exhibit any bowing, etc.
  • Exterior surfaces. The inspector will take a look at the home’s siding, exterior paint, and masonry.
  • Windows and doors. Home inspectors typically assess the sturdiness and security of windows and doors.
  • Roof. You can anticipate that the inspector will assess the roof for any obvious problems or signs of serious wear and tear.
  • Attic. The home inspector will spend some time in the attic, looking for issues such as insufficient insulation or leaks from the roof.
  • Interior rooms. Home inspectors typically assess interior rooms, looking for cracks in the walls, issues with the carpeting, stains, peeling paint, etc.
  • Plumbing. Your inspector will run faucets and flush toilets, verifying that the basic household plumbing all works properly.
  • Electrical. Your home inspector will assess the quality of any visible wiring, and also make sure the breaker box looks good.

What should sellers expect from the home inspection?

If you own the home, you will be informed by the buyer when the inspector is set to arrive. Sellers are asked not to be in the home when the inspection takes place. However, you can and you should make sure your home is clean and tidy before the inspector arrives, and also verify that all rooms and major systems are easily accessible.

What should buyers expect from the home inspection?

It is generally recommended that buyers be present during the home inspection; if you are unable to attend the inspection, at least send your real estate agent in your place.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that it provides the home inspector with a chance to point things out to you, and to explain any issues that are discovered. Two, it allows you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have, or to point out any areas of the house that worry you.

Depending on the size of the house, the inspection may take anywhere from an hour to four hours. A longer inspection is not necessarily a bad thing! Often, it just means your inspector is especially careful and methodical.

As for the price of a home inspection, it is typically a few hundred dollars, and may be rolled into your closing costs.

How do buyers use the home inspection report?

After completing their visual assessment of the home, your inspector will create a full report. This may take a couple of days. The report will include a detailed, room-by-room description of each issue encountered. Most of the time, home inspection reports also include photos and diagrams, helping you to better understand the inspector’s conclusions.

We recommend reading the report carefully, and asking your agent to interpret it with you. You can use the items noted in the home inspection report to either bargain for a lower selling price, request that the seller make some repairs, or, if the situation is really dire, walk away from the deal altogether.

For very minor and cosmetic issues, it’s generally recommended that you ignore them, and just deal with them yourself when you move in.

Need more insight into the home selling process?

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