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A Few Home Inspection Tips for Buyers!

A home inspection tends to set both buyers and sellers on edge. It can feel like the buyer has the upper hand, but everyone involved wants for this part of the sale to go well and understand its value in the process.

In fact, 90% of homeowners, believe that home inspections are a necessity, according to a poll from the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

Realizing that each side ultimately wants the same thing, working together to close the deal, should set all parties more at ease. Start with these home inspection tips for buyers…that sellers can use as well!

Tip #1: Make the inspection official by writing it in as a contract contingency.

It’s not enough to tell the seller of a house verbally that you plan to get the house inspected before closing. You’ll need to work with your agent to make sure it’s written into the contract as a contingency clause, which “defines a condition or action that must be met for a real estate contract to become binding,” according to Investopedia.

The inspection contingency clause allows a buyer to stipulate that they have a certain amount of time (typically 10-14 days) to inspect the property after both parties sign the purchase offer. This gives the buyer the chance to back out of the deal and get their earnest money back if they can’t come to an agreement on repair negotiations.

In the event that you’re buying from a friend or relative—or trying to compete in a hot market with fierce buyer competition—you might be tempted to waive the inspection.

This is a BAD idea!

Even if a seller isn’t deliberately hiding something, some maintenance issues aren’t apparent to an untrained eye.

Tip #2: Set your expectations for a perfect inspection.

Although a home inspection report is detailed, it doesn’t cover every nook, creak, and cranny.

One expectation that first-time buyers have is that the inspector is going to find everything wrong with the house...and that’s not the case. We’re there as a guest of the owner, so we’re limited in our ability to inspect things.

So if there’s a sofa in front of the living room windows, for example, the inspector may not be able to reach all the windows to test if one sticks.

Tip #3: Be prepared to attend the inspection and ask lots of questions.

When buyers pay for the home inspection, it’s fairly standard for them to show up towards the end of the inspection.

This allows the hone inspector time to focus on inspecting the home with their full attention. By showing up towards the end of the inspection, the inspector is able to go over some of the things they found, address any of your concerns, and answer any questions you may have.

Don’t worry….the inspector will still provide you with a full written report!

Tip #4: Know when to ask for a repair, take a credit, or leave it be.

The home inspection can trigger some negotiations over the findings. For each, a buyer can request that the seller hire a contractor to fix it, obtain a credit (a reduction in the purchase price) toward fixing it themselves, or let it be. Sellers can opt for either or simply reject both and negotiate from there, although that puts the transaction at risk of the buyer walking away.

Sellers should repair major structural issues or safety problems, such as a dated roof or any requirements for a government-backed mortgage like an FHA loan, or offer credit if they don’t have the funds. Cosmetic imperfections, such as chipped paint or peeling wallpaper, can be left to the buyers to handle once they purchase the property.

Tip #5: Now’s your chance to get specialty inspections, too.

Although home inspectors are trained and certified to assess several parts of a home, they also can specialize in what are called “ancillary inspections,” or more detailed reviews focusing on individual components.

If they don’t have the right expertise themselves, general inspectors might refer the buyer to specialty inspectors who can more accurately assess components such as the home’s foundation or signs of termites. These types of specialty inspections are an additional fee.

Depending on where you live, radon inspections are a common one for home buyers to get. This colorless, odorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rock, soil, and water, so any home can have a radon problem, the EPA says. However, people tend to think of radon testing more readily in homes that use well water or that have basements.

Other specialty inspections include termite or pest inspections, swimming pool inspections, and well or sewer inspections.

If your home is older than 10-15 years, an electrical inspection can point out any repairs needed to bring the property up to code, such as replacing the electrical panel and any outdated wiring and receptacles.

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