Most real estate agents will tell you their least favorite part of the real estate process is the home inspection. Why? To sum it up in a few words- buyers and sellers get too caught up in this part of the transaction. In my opinion, HGTV has created over expectations. Many contracts fall apart from uncompromising parties about simple repairs or home maintenance items.
- What is a home inspection and what should I expect? A home inspection is supposed to be a look at the house to find major structural or mechanical issues with a home. In recent years, this has evolved into more of a battle between the buyer and seller. Buyers want a home in perfect condition whereas sellers have lived with some of the simpler quirks of their home and see no reason to fix the door which doesn’t shut so easily, for example. An inspector tries to look at all the components of a home and usually has to do so in a short time frame. They cannot possibly find everything wrong with a home in one visit. All home inspectors will miss things from time to time and will write up items which are not necessarily defective or broken. They simply note what they find and do not investigate the reason an item is not working. Example – light fixture not working – may only be a bad bulb but the inspector does not have time to check this in the short time they are onsite for the inspection.
- What will my inspection report look like? When I first began my real estate career, an inspection report was approximately 2-3 pages long and handwritten. Most had estimates of repairs which was very helpful. Now they are 20-150 pages depending on the software program an inspector is using which many times will include pictures of defects found. Keep in mind that these photos are usually magnified to show what was written up and often look worse than they really are. The “Summary” is where the most pertinent information lies and where most requests for repairs should come from.
- What do I do with this report? It should be used to ask for reasonable repairs not everything noted on the report. If you are buying a home that has already been occupied, there will be items on the inspection report which are valid and some which are not. Does a seller have to repair them all? No. And usually they don’t. This is where having a realtor is important. As a realtor, we can help to mediate this part of the transaction. Most of the time it is not worth losing a really nice home over a few hundred dollars for repairs!
- Where should I find my home inspector? NOT ON GOOGLE! I can’t speak for other towns but in the Columbus, Phenix City and Harris County areas, the good inspectors do not have reviews and most do not have web pages. I have asked inspectors repeatedly to ask for reviews and one finally told me that he had more business than he could handle and he did not have time to develop a web page for reviews. In our area, most realtors have a list of inspectors with whom they have had transactions with and can recommend a few for you to choose from.
When buying a home – remember there is no perfect home whether old or new. All homes need maintenance. Things will break after you purchase and move in. A seller does not necessarily try to hide defective parts of their home for you to find after you move in. Most sellers want you to love their homes as much as they did!