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Home inspection time is usually when homebuying gets real for buyers. They’ve taken the time — months, sometimes years — to find “the one,” and now someone is going to come in and expose all the underlying warts of the home.
However, their trusted agent has their back. Hiring a licensed home inspector and going through the process is a scary endeavor for buyers, so to allay their nerves and trepidation, take the time to prep your buyers for the process by explaining the following:
1. What a home inspection is and is not
The first step is to explain what an inspection is, and what to expect. You should prepare your buyer for the lengthy inspection report, which can be up to 40 or 50 typed pages with photos.
Depending on the size of the home, the inspection will take between one to six hours to complete. Lenders are interested in inspection issues, and may not finalize the loan until repairs are made.
A general inspector looks for signs of damage such as leaks. Some of the things he or she will likely do are:
- Run the faucets and showers
- Check ceilings for any damage from exterior sources
- Turn-on the dishwasher, oven, microwave, and washer and dryer to determine if they are functioning properly
- Review walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors
- Look to see if there might be an insect or pest issue, as evidenced by droppings, wood that appears to be damaged or holes that should be closed
- Check the electricity system to determine if it is up to code, as well as all electric outlets, heating and central air conditioning systems to determine functionality
- Check the attic (if applicable) to determine proper ventilation, insulation and general condition
- Look to see if there appears to be lead paint or asbestos, which requires a more detailed review
In a house or townhouse, the inspector will check the exterior of the home (the foundation, basement, structural components and the roof for damage) and may perform a radon test (radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that’s formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water).
The inspector will find defects, sometimes many defects, but that does not mean buyers are not purchasing a good home. The small leak might mean a bolt needs to be tightened or the dishwasher is not working because the water-line was switched off by accident.
These are easy fixes. However, when buyers see a laundry list of items, it can seem as if the home is falling-down. This is most often not the case.
2. How repair requests work
The two sides agree on an offer price based on the known conditions and defects of the home. The inspection report points those issues out.
It is the larger issues that buyers will request a price reduction for, or request repairs. The home inspector will point out every little detail observed, and many of them can be easily rectified. These kinds of repairs include things like recaulking the bathroom tub or replace the sink stopper.
Here are a few guidelines for repair requests to help you wade through what’s normal and what’s not.
3. What a home inspection contingency clause is
The home inspection contingency clause (a.k.a. due diligence clause) provides buyers with the right to conduct inspections on the home for a specified time-frame; approximately five to 10 days.
The buyer during this time-frame can choose to either cancel the contract or negotiate repairs based on the findings outlined in the report by the professional, licensed inspector(s).
The seller can elect to repair problems themselves or escrow funds for repairs that the buyer will take care of after closing.
4. The different types of inspections
The general inspector will outline minor to major problems and will provide recommendations for improvements. A potential issue raised may require a deeper dive by an expert to determine the extent of the potential problem.
There are many different types of inspectors. There are grading or structural engineers and/or architects, mold and/or asbestos specialists, HVAC specialists, pool specialists, roof specialists, pest inspectors, radon specialists and chimney or tree experts, to name of few.
5. What happens after the inspection
After the buyers review the inspection report and they’ve agreed with the sellers on the items that need to be repaired, those buyers must follow up to ensure that all items have actually been repaired.
Buyers can opt for a quick visual view themselves if the fixes are simple, but if they were more complex, they should consider having the inspector return to the home for a final inspection before closing.
Buying a home is a major financial investment. The inspection provides a big-picture analysis of the state of their prospective home. The inspection report gives the homeowner the chance to understand what to monitor, what requires maintenance and how to ensure their home is safe and sound.
It is important for the buyer and the buyer’s agent to be present, to ask questions and to take notes during the inspection.
Be prepared for any deficiency the inspector may discover. Rather than getting overwhelmed, consider it an opportunity to learn about the condition of the home and how to maintain it in tip-top condition.
Karen Kostiw is a licensed real estate salesperson at Warburg Realty in Tribeca, New York. Connect with her on LinkedIn.