A home inspection is a vital part of the homebuying process. Some potential buyers tend to view home inspections as something that is not necessary or too expensive. But home inspections can save buyers time and money in the long run.

Here are some things you should know about home inspections:

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and major interior systems of a home. It’s important to distinguish that a home inspection is not an appraisal, building code inspection or an insurance policy examination.

It is also important to note that a home inspection is not a guarantee of any kind — it’s simply an assessment of the property’s condition at the time of the inspection.

When should a home inspection happen?

Hiring a home inspector is recommended right after the offer-to-purchase contract is signed and prior to executing the final purchase and sales agreement.

It is important for buyers to make sure that there is an inspection clause in the offer-to-purchase contract before signing it. This clause ensures that the purchase obligation is contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection.

Who should perform the inspection?

The best way to go about hiring a home inspector is by asking a real estate agent, friends and family for personal recommendations.

Searching for inspectors on the Division of Professional Licensure website is another proven method, but it’s always better to have a personal referral. As of May 2001, home inspectors are required to be licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

What happens during the inspection?

During the inspection, the inspector will examine the exposed portions of the home, such as the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, heating/cooling systems, interior plumbing, electrical systems and appliances.

Inspectors are not there to point out cosmetic issues, but they should detect bigger problems and make recommendations on potential maintenance needs.

If there is a specific issue of concern, the home inspector should suggest that homebuyers hire a specialist; for instance, a licensed electrician, plumber, etc. They should not recommend anyone personally, as it can be a conflict of interest.

The fee for a home inspection should include a full written report sent to the buyers within 24-48 hours of the physical inspection.

Do buyers attend the inspection?

It’s a good idea for homebuyers to be present at the home inspection. They can then observe the inspector, ask questions and gain a better understanding of the condition of their future home.

If there are any serious issues discovered, buyers can work with their real estate agent to request more information from the sellers, or they might contact their own specialists for a more detailed evaluation.

Home inspections are meant to help homebuyers. This process can alleviate unexpected high repair costs and help to plan for the future maintenance of a new home.

Linda Mossman is a highly reputable real estate professional servicing the Metrowest area of Boston who provides her clients outstanding service by understanding their specific needs. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Email Linda Mossman.

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