Is Your Dream Home Really a Nightmare?
If you think you've found your dream home and want to make an offer, make it contingent upon the home inspection. This is especially important with an older home, a home being sold as a short sale or a foreclosure. A home inspection can reveal costly problems that aren't noticeable to an untrained eye, such as leaky plumbing, electrical problems, roof issues, foundation problems, termite damage, radon and more.
When you ask for a home inspection as a condition of the sale, it can serve as a negotiating tool for you. If the inspection uncovers costly repairs that need to be made, you can ask the seller to get the repairs made or reduce the cost of the house by the amount of money it would take for you to get the repairs made. As part of your offer, you can ask to have any deposit money returned if the seller does not agree to either of these things.
Even if a home inspection doesn't reveal any issues with the house, it can help you determine how long it will be before certain repairs need to be made. According to homesite.com, "A detailed home inspection will provide the buyer with a life expectancy for certain items such as roofs, furnaces and appliances. A local home inspector will be able to inform the buyer of any local codes as they pertain to fencing laws, the addition of decks, etc. so that the home buyer may plan accordingly for future home improvements."1
Choosing an Inspector
Although your realtor can probably suggest a home inspector, it's always a good idea to do some research and choose one yourself. After all, you are paying for the inspection, and you want to know if there are any potential problems. You will have peace of mind by choosing the inspector yourself.
Start by consulting your local builders' association, Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau. Better yet—ask your friends and family for recommendations. Once you have a short list made, start visiting web sites and looking for reviews. The inspector you choose should be licensed. Ask how many years of experience they have, ask for client testimonials and ask if they are willing to send you a sample inspection report.
Home inspections can cost around $200-300, but don't let price factor into your decision until you narrow the list down to two home inspectors that you like.
If you can be at the house and walk through it with the inspector, it can be an eye-opening experience. The inspector can show you any current problems, alert you to potential problems that may need to be addressed in the future and give you an idea of how long it will be before you need to take care of general home maintenance (like a new roof).
Remember, a house is one of the biggest investments you'll ever make. You wouldn't think of buying one and not insuring it, so why would you buy one without having it inspected first?