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What you need to know about home inspections

Posted by kim carpenter on May 4, 2010
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A professional home inspection can not only provide a great education about the home’s systems, but also be a crucial tool in negotiating the most equitable price on the home.  A home inspection by a professional and qualified home inspector is an excellent tool to encourage home sellers to make repairs or make further price adjustments as a result of conditions noted in the inspection report.

  • Inspect the Inspector. Only hire a home inspector with an excellent reputation and credentials. Ask how long the company has been in business, ask about specific formal training and ongoing education the inspector has and verify the inspector carries professional liability insurance also known as “Errors & Omissions” (E&O). If the company doesn’t carry this insurance, it could indicate a poor track record or lack of experience.  Your real estate agent will usually give you names of at least 2 inspection companies in the area, if not, ask for them.
  • Ask for a sample of a report. The quality of the final inspection report will be important. A poorly prepared report without pictures or clear, concise details addressing all the various systems and accessible elements of the home is less likely to be taken seriously by a home seller. Look for words like…repair/replacement needed, safety issue.  If they use the term “recommend” then they are not likely to stand behind their findings and the seller may say “they didn’t say it had to be replaced/repaired, they JUST recommended it”.
  • Inquire about additional inspection services offered, like…. radon testing, mold testing, water test, septic tests.  Make sure they are licensed to do these types of inspections as well and ask for a discount if you add on additional tests.
  • Attend your inspection if at all possible. If the inspector discourages you from going along and asking questions, find another inspector. A home inspection is not simply a laundry list of what is wrong with the home. In addition to documenting issues and needed repairs that may exist, a professional home inspector will also show the new buyer how to operate the various systems in the home and provide tips on improving energy efficiency and maintaining the home in general. And being present during the inspection will make the final written report that much more meaningful.
  • Formulate your response for the seller. Once you receive the written report, you and your realtor should review the inspection and decide what items you are going to request the seller to repair/replace.  Always request that the work be completed by licensed/bonded contractor and that receipts be provided.  Keep in mind that the purchase agreement states you may only terminate the purchase agreement if a MAJOR DEFECT is found that the seller is unable or unwilling to remedy, you may not terminate the agreement for maintenance items or items previously disclosed by the seller.
  • Get estimates for the repairs/replacements. The seller may want to get their own estimates also but if you have your own, you will know if the estimate from their contractor is out of line.
  • Negotiate the repairs. Seller may not be willing to complete all of the repairs, you may have to be responsible for some of them.
  • Reinspect. You may want your inspector to reinspect the repairs made by the seller’s, they will charge you a reinspect fee so make sure the repairs are all complete before going out. If the repairs are not complete or done incorrectly, the seller will need to have their contractor redo them and you may request that they be responsible for the reinspection fee since you were told they were complete.

It is not as bad as it sounds but there can always been hidden items that you did not see when you purchased the home.  This is just a part of the process and once this step and the appraisal are complete, it is usually smooth sailing to closing.

To find an inspector in our area go to, for a list of licensed inspectors.

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