Housing Series – Part Six: Getting the Inspection
Some of our most asked questions center around home buying and the involved processes. When we think about it that makes perfect sense. The item in your budget where you’re likely to spend the most is your primary residence. Buying a house is a huge undertaking. If you think you’re ready to take the plunge there are lots of things to know.
You need to know how much house to buy, how you’re going to finance the purchase, who’s going to help you look, and on and on and on. That’s why we decided to launch this mini series. We do have other resources available which discuss home buying. However, our goal with this series is to discuss the home buying steps in depth, one at a time. The process can be overwhelming so our goal is to break down the process into more bite-sized steps.
Part 6: Getting The Inspection
This is where you (the buyer) are able to leverage your negotiating power. An inspection is arguably one of the most important steps in the home-buying process. If this is your first home purchase it’s important to understand the inspection timeline, what to expect of the overall process, and how to choose an inspector. You’ll normally have 10 days for your inspection period. The overall market environment will also play a role in how much negotiating power you have. Be sure to ask your agent about market expectations.
First things first, you need to choose an inspector. As the buyer you have the right to choose who inspects the home you’re hoping to buy. If you’ve vetted your agent well you can look to them for a recommendation for an inspector. Don’t feel pressured to use the inspector in your agents referral network. If you’d rather, you can research inspectors in your area. Whether you decide to go with the agent’s recommendation or not, you need to research the person you hire. Some things to be aware of are as follows:
- Some states have licensing requirements, others do not.
- The requirements for licensure vary between states and between associations.
- Look for customer complaints via
- The Better Business Bureau
- Customer review sites like Google Reviews and Yelp
- Ask for recommendations from friends/family/coworkers
Once you choose an inspector you’ll need to know what you can expect from them.
- An inspection might cost anywhere from a couple hundred to one thousand dollars
- You should also expect to spend a couple hours walking through the home with the inspector
- Make sure you ask questions as you walk through about things that strike you as concerning.
- Know what items your inspector is qualified and willing to speak to.
- Determine whether the inspector will come back to the property after repairs are complete
Your inspector might not be qualified to speak on all aspects of the home. For example, if the home you’re purchasing has a pool you might need a separate inspection. The general home inspector might be able to address some concerns like outlets, motor function, or overall appearance. However, they might not be trained to speak to the specifics of the operation of the pool.
Upon the completion of the inspection, you’ll receive a detailed report of the findings. It’s at this time that you and your agent will decide what things you would like the sellers to fix before turning over the keys. Anything you don’t have the sellers fix will ultimately be your financial responsibility. Use this time to determine which items you’re willing to fix on your own dime and what you want repaired before you take possession of the home. The seller will have an opportunity to deny repair requests. During the inspection period you can rescind your offer if you cannot come to an agreement on repairs to be made. Once both parties have come to an agreement on repairs the seller will be responsible for hiring the persons to make said repairs. Once everything requested is fixed it’s vital you do one more thing. You should have your inspector verify completion of what should have been repaired. Ideally, this is included in the initial cost but if not it could be well worth the cost of the follow up visit. There could be exceptions to the follow up inspection rule like if the buyers weren’t required to make any repairs or if the repairs can be verified by an untrained eye.
Allow me to tell you a story stressing the importance of this second inspection:
I put in an offer on a house, the sellers accepted, and we came to an agreement on repairs. In general, things were going really well and progressing quickly. After all the repairs were made the sellers sent copies of all the receipts to prove the work was completed and paid. While at the title company signing documents our agent called. When our inspector got back on the roof he found none of the repair work was completed. We had to push back closing to ensure the work was completed as this was an obligation for the seller. As it turns out the company that was hired, billed, and received payment for the repairs, they just never made them. I think it’s fair to assume most of us don’t frequent our roof. Especially a flat roof over a garage. It’s unlikely we would have known about the lack of repairs until we had a major issue. I could not be more thankful that our inspector came to look at the house a second time.
After the inspection, your work as the buyer will be nearly done. Know there are many things happening behind the scenes after this step such as repairs, septic inspections, pest treatments, the appraisal, and the final lending documents will be drafted. This work will be done by the sellers, their agent, and your lender, primarily. You can check in with your agent and lender just to insure the loan is moving along but your job now is to wait.
Finally, once all of these final pieces come together you’ll be able to sign the closing documents, acquire your keys, and take possession of your new home!