How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Inspection

by Ashley Wirgau

A home inspection is non-negotiable for buyers who are intent on peace of mind. There is no easier way to build confidence in the purchase of a new house than to have a vetted, independent professional examine that house on your behalf. The benefits of securing a home inspection prior to purchase are huge in comparison to its minimal cost, so if you are considering forgoing this step…don’t.

Once the appointment is made, though, how do you ensure you get your money’s worth? Easy! Just follow these simple steps:

Get References

Don’t be shy! When buying a home, it is important to talk to people, especially when the time comes to select the right home inspector. Not just anyone plucked from the Yellow Pages will do. Select an experienced professional, one who will treat your purchase like he/she would treat their own. Ask around – neighbors, friends, coworkers – to see who other people have used (and liked!).

Following the advice of your realtor might seem like a good idea, but it could actually present a conflict of interest. Realtors want to close deals and sometimes, really good home inspectors get in the way of that as they identify significant problems hiding within a home. Go outside of your real estate agent’s recommendations and find an inspector who has done great work for homebuyers, not just their agents.

Be Prepared

If you are ready to pull the trigger on a house, chances are you’ve already been through it a couple times on your own. Prior to the inspection, take a moment to sit down and compile a list of concerns you have encountered in your walk-throughs. You might also invite a knowledgeable friend or family member to accompany you on a visit to the home as you work on this list. Additionally, ask your inspector for a sample inspection sheet, so you can familiarize yourself with the process and what areas will be examined.

Show Up

This is the simplest step of all, but oftentimes, it is the most over-looked. Just show up. The amount of insight you will gain by following the inspector through his/her rounds is priceless. By accompanying them on the inspection, you will actually get to see the problem areas the eventual report will identify. Home inspection reports can be difficult to decipher, and this is amplified when homebuyers choose not to be present at the inspection itself.

Ask Questions

So, you showed up, but now what? You could follow the inspector around like a silent shadow or you could take this opportunity to ask good questions. You have paid the money for a professional to examine your potential new home, so be sure to get as much out of that time as you can. Hopefully, you’ve done your homework (remember Step #2) and compiled your list of questions. Use the well-versed resource in front of you and go through all of your concerns before it’s too late.

Follow Through

Now comes the hard part…actually doing something. Once the home inspection is complete and the findings are in, it is essential that you thoroughly review the paperwork. Home inspection reports contain a ton of information, some of which serves as details to be dealt with down the road while other info requires more immediate action. It can be hard to know which is which, though, so if you still find yourself in the dark after reading the inspection report, check out our past post which breaks down the nitty gritty on what’s bad and what’s ok.

After you’ve sorted out what’s what, it’s time to act. Contact your real estate agent and go over any fixes to be performed prior to purchase or negotiate down the price if you would rather handle the repairs after the sale. A word of advice, though – while it might hold up the closing date a bit, having the seller remediate any large issues could really save you headaches down the line. Often times, problems that appear minor can be major once the project is underway. Wouldn’t you rather have that fall on someone else’s shoulders? You’re kind of busy with that new house and everything.

The cost of a home inspection is minimal in comparison to the overall purchase price of a home, but that doesn’t mean it is something to be overlooked. The few hundred dollars spent to have your potential property reviewed by a professional is still money out of pocket, and if it is not taken seriously, it could have significantly higher costs down the line.

 

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