Home Inspection Tips for Buyers
The property inspection is one of the most important parts of the home purchase process. Here are five home inspection tips for buyers.
1. Review the disclosures
During an inspection, the buyer is there to learn as much about the property as possible. However, before the inspection, the buyer should review the seller’s property disclosures and any building department documentation. The listing agent may have pointed out some known issues. Write down a list of questions or concerns you have about the home.
Block out a few hours on inspection day, depending on what you need to inspect. Ask your real estate agent which inspections are typical in your market. Most inspections go smoothly, but some can be the beginning of tough negotiations.
2. Make sure your agent goes with you
Your agent should be standing by your side to walk you through the inspection. Good agents have been through dozens of inspections and know what to look for. They understand what matters in the big picture. Cracked grout in the bathtub tile doesn’t matter when you have a safety issue with the electrical panel.
Be aware that, in some parts of the country, the listing agent won’t be there. But in others, they are present to represent the seller. The listing agent will likely be the most familiar with the property and can address any issues that come up. Though the listing agent is there to advocate for the seller, everyone should come with the same goal: to facilitate a clean sales transaction.
3. Go where the inspector goes
As the buyer, you hire the property inspector, who should be licensed by the state. You sign an agreement with and pay the inspector. Most buyers get a referral for an inspector from their real estate agent.
The inspector is not a contractor, though some inspectors were contractors in their previous careers. While they may be able to shed light on what you can or can’t do to a property and its potential costs, their objective is to inspect the property, its systems and the overall state of the home.
A good inspector will remain impartial but will point out concerns that should be addressed. The inspector isn’t a part of the transaction and shouldn’t get into the nitty-gritty of your deal. The inspector’s job is to look around, make notes and provide you with a detailed report as well as feedback on future maintenance.
Wherever the inspector goes, you should go. Get on the roof, go into the basement, crawl into the crawlspace. It will be helpful for the inspector to point things out to you and demonstrate where the systems are and how they work. Also, some things are better understood in person than read about in a report later.
4. Think twice about bringing Uncle Bob
Having Uncle Bob, a handyman or an electrical contractor on hand during the inspection is usually a bad idea. While it may seem logical to bring a relative or close friend who is a contractor, be mindful that these people aren’t licensed property inspectors. Sometimes, the most well-intentioned people will end up causing harmful consequences.
Uncle Bob may point out as many negative things as possible, just to seem helpful. He’s far from impartial, however, and hasn’t been a part of your home-buying journey or recent negotiations. You run the risk of raising unnecessary red flags.
5. Discuss next steps with your agent
After the inspection, you and your agent will likely huddle to discuss what went on and any necessary next steps. With luck, the inspection was flawless, and you’re one step closer to picking out your new paint colors. If not, you may need to do more negotiations—or, if the inspections went badly—walk away. Either way, it helps to know what to expect going in and to prepare for anything.