A professional home inspector can play a very important role when you are buying your next house. An inspection helps a buyer understand the condition of the residence. It also helps the seller provide accurate information, which helps make the sale. Because a home is such a major purchase, you will need to exercise considerable discernment. Here are a few pointers to help you avoid pitfalls.
First, understand that this review is not an appraisal. An appraisal protects the lender’s financial interests and is the bank’s way of determining if the property is worth what you have agreed to pay. On the other hand, your inspection protects you, the buyer or seller, by identifying structural or mechanical problems with the house.
Buying real estate can be an attractive proposition in an economy where home prices are down tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Would you believe some people only spend 15 minutes deciding on the residence they want to buy? Keep in mind that no purchase is perfect, and you should never buy a home without having it inspected first.
This is especially true if you want to buy one that has gone through a foreclosure. You absolutely must have it inspected. It is possible the previous owner may have sabotaged it in anger over a desperate situation. As astonishing as it may seem, home inspectors have found such problems as headers cut from steps, rafters cut in attics, electric wiring cut, and in one instance reported motor oil had been poured over flooring and carpeting.
The thorough analysis of a home inspection brings to light areas that need attention so unpleasant surprises can be avoided later. Investing a few hundred dollars in now can save you thousands down the road.
The walk-through should take at least two hours and could take as many as six hours. This varies depending on the size of the residence. Your professional service person will examine the foundation, roof, gutters, all types of siding, doors and windows, electrical wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and appliances. He will be on the lookout for fire hazards, mold, and emissions of carbon monoxide and radon gas.
Though it is not necessarily required, he may also check driveways and sidewalks, the porch, patio, balcony, septic tank, and the garage or other buildings that go with the property. Some of these may require an additional fee.
Your inspector should be properly qualified for your state and local area and should have all the necessary equipment to do the job. You can expect his services to cost roughly $400 to $800, depending on the size of the property and the area of the country in which you live.
The report he provides you should be very specific and detailed. It should not be just a quick checklist. It is a good idea for the report to be accompanied by photographs. Your report should include digital pictures to document the findings. Your inspector should take time to answer any questions you have and define terms you are unsure of.
Exercise caution when choosing your home inspector. While getting a recommendation from your real estate agent may sound like a good idea, consider choosing an inspector yourself. Avoid any possible conflicts of interest by getting an independent inspector.
Ask trusted friends and coworkers for referrals. Listen to their concerns and criticisms as well. Check for recommendations from the American Society of Home Inspectors (http://www.ashi.org).
Verify the inspector’s credentials. How long has he been doing business? Does he have a license; what is the license number?
A home inspector can be worth his weight in gold. When he does his job, he will help you gain perspective about the home you are buying. You need to know the positives and the negatives. That will help avoid pitfalls and keep all parties involved from having unrealistic expectations about the property.
Choose a home inspection company as carefully as you have selected the home you are buying.
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