A home inspection is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the home selling process, for both buyers and sellers. It is important to remember though, that a home inspection is not a pass or fail test.
No home is perfect, so don’t be scared off by a home inspection that scores less than 100% on every aspect. A home inspection is merely a way to give buyers and sellers a snapshot of the homes current condition and any significant issues that may need addressing.
Having a home inspection is imperative for buyers who want to minimize unwanted surprises and unexpected costly repairs. And for sellers, knowing what’s going on beneath the surface of the house gives them a more realistic expectation on their sales price.
What Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an objective examination of the structure and major systems of a house. Put simply, it is an assessment of the home.
Although an inspector cannot be expected to find every single fault or defect within a house, they can give a good idea of the home's current condition.
A home inspection generally concludes with an inspection report. The inspection report details all of the findings of the inspection. The buyer can then use these findings to make an informed decision about whether to continue with the purchase of the property.
If there is a contingency in the purchase offer, the buyer also has the option to negotiate with the seller to fix any problems or to lower the price to accommodate needed repairs.
What Does a Home Inspection Look For?
How in depth a home inspection varies, however, most cover the main areas of the house that could have problems.
Condition of the Roof
Tell-tale signs of a damaged roof such as deteriorated shingles or missing tiles are one of the first things home inspectors look for. Inspectors will also look to find out if there’s any moisture underneath the roof shingles.
Other issues, such as damaged flashing around the chimney — and the condition of the chimney itself — will also be checked. It is important for a potential buyer to know if the chimney is safe to use or if it’s created any structural damage.
Electrical Systems Safety and Functioning
Faulty or inadequate electrical systems can be a problem, particularly in older homes. Inspectors will look to ensure that the electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration is suitable for the house.
Homes with older electrical panels, such as the Federal Pacific type, can be almost impossible to insure, so it is important to know if your home has one. Inspectors will also look at receptacles to ensure that they are wired correctly and also test them for functionality and safety.
Water damage can be extremely costly to repair. Inspectors will check for leaky plumbing issues and also the water pressure coming into the home.
Drainage issues can be difficult to remedy and expensive to fix. If the home has a septic tank it is wise to also have this inspected to ensure that you don’t encounter any nasty surprises after closing.
Most inspectors have a keen nose for the presence of mildew. If a home smells damp there is likely an issue with moisture — often stemming from the basement.
Home inspectors examine walls and flooring for evidence of dampness, mildew, and mold. It is important to be aware of any moisture issues in a home, as they can quickly deteriorate building materials — not to mention attract unwelcome house guests such as bugs.
Home inspectors will also check that all main appliances are working and safe. This includes items such as the dishwasher, HVAC system, the oven, and the smoke detectors.
What Happens If Problems Are Discovered?
Although a lot of problems that are discovered in home inspections are minor inconveniences and quick fixes, other issues may be more significant and more costly.
After a home inspection is an ideal time to negotiate any fixes or credits. It is in the interest of both the buyer and the seller to come to a compromise on any additional work that may need to be done.
Issues relating to the safety of a home should be addressed in the first instance. Not only are safety issues a concern for the buyer and the seller, but they also make it extremely difficult to insure the home — a must for any buyer who is financing.
Home sellers are typically very accommodating when issues are made apparent in the inspection report. A real estate agent who is experienced at negotiating will be able to help navigate the discussions of repairs or credits at closing in a manner that is effective and timely.
It is vital that buyers to weigh the pros and cons of each issue with their new potential home. If the repair is minor, it is likely that it will cost less to fix than the price of the actual inspection. In this case, it makes no sense to walk away from the deal.
In the unlikely instance that a seller and buyer cannot come to an agreement on major issues that affects the insurability of a home or are particularly costly, it may be necessary for the buyer to walk away — unless they’re willing to pay for the repairs themselves.
Why a Real Estate Agent Is Important During Negotiations
Typically it’s in the interest of both the buyer and the seller to close the real estate transaction once they have passed the point of inspection. A knowledgeable real estate agent will be able to advise buyers on how to approach a request for a credit or a repair at closing.
Sellers typically find it easier and less stressful to offer a credit rather than going through repairs. Buyers often prefer this also, as they may have a preference of how they would like the repair completed or the contractor they would like to hire.
Real estate agents are able to negotiate on behalf of the seller if the buyer’s requests are unrealistic or not feasible in the time frame. For instance, if the buyer is insistent on a repair that cannot be completed before closing, the offer of a credit or renegotiating the selling price may be preferable for both.
An experienced real estate agent can help to maneuver negotiations efficiently, ensuring a less stressful sales transaction for both the buyer and the seller.
If you’re considering buying a new home or selling your current home, the thought of potential negotiations may seem daunting. Clever Partner Agents are recognized professionals who have handled hundreds of negotiations over their career and can negotiate on your behalf and ensure your needs and expectations are met after a home inspection.