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Home inspection tips for buyers 

If you’re planning to buy a home, it’s essential to know its condition. A home inspection is the best way to assess a property before making an offer. 

While an appraisal protects mortgage lenders, home inspections safeguard buyers. There are many steps a home buyer needs to take to choose the right house. Home inspections play an essential role in the process. 

Our article highlights the most critical home inspection tips for buyers and sellers. A home is one of the most significant purchases you’ll ever make. That’s why a home inspection is a smart move.

Look at our home inspection list to learn what home inspectors check

Home inspection tips for buyers

A buyer benefits the most from hiring a home inspector. Home inspections are not required by law, but they can help buyers understand the property’s condition. Buyers can also use the findings of the inspection to renegotiate the price or request that the repairs be completed prior to closing. 

Hire a reputable home inspector

Working with a home inspector you trust will affect the entire process. You could spend more time looking for a good home inspector with good reviews, but it’s well worth it. You might also pay extra, as home inspectors with years of experience charge higher prices. 

How to find a good home inspection company

One of the most crucial home inspection tips for buyers is to find a reputable home inspection company. Ask your friends and family and conduct an online search to find home inspection companies or individual home inspectors. 

Your real estate agent can also refer you to the home inspection company they work with. Do your research, read reviews online, or check with the Better Business Bureau before hiring a home inspector. 

Attend a home inspection 

You don’t have to attend a home inspection, but doing so can help you better understand the property’s condition. While you can follow a home inspector during the process, make sure not to interrupt the process.

Come prepared 

If you decide to attend a home inspection, bring a notebook and a pen so you can write down questions for your home inspector.

Go over legal documents 

Go over any legal documents or seller disclosures you received before inspection day. Ask your inspector to verify any repairs that the seller outlined. 

Ask your home inspector questions 

A home inspector will give you a summary of the findings following the examination. That’s when you need to ask any questions that you might have. 

Read your home inspection report carefully

Read your home inspection report thoroughly and follow up with the inspector on any additional questions. Make sure you understand every finding outlined in the report. 

Go over the findings with your realtor 

Discuss the findings of the home inspection report with your realtor to determine the best course of action. 

Home sellers often have to adjust prices following a home inspection. You should understand every point in the home inspection report to handle negotiations.

Home inspection tips for sellers

As a seller, you can conduct a pre-listing home inspection.

A pre-listing home inspection aims to give you a head start on any issues that could impact your home’s value. Knowing what areas of your home need attention can save you time and help to figure out a fair asking price.

Tips to ensure a home inspection is successful:

Remove clutter 

When a home inspector shows up, your home should be clutter-free. Remove everything that could prevent them from accessing areas of your home. 

A home inspector is not allowed to move any furniture or other items, as it can expose them to liability. If they can’t reach a specific part of your home, they might have to reschedule a home inspection. Unlock all doors, remove personal belongings and ensure that your home looks neat.

Conduct a pre-inspection

Savvy homeowners conduct their own checks before a home inspection. This step allows them to avoid surprises during a home inspection. It’s also an excellent way to remediate problems before a home inspector puts them in a report.

Check the roof, foundation, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. Peek in your attic and crawlspace, as these areas are prone to issues.  

You should have a good sense of the condition of your home before a home inspection.

Check your plumbing 

If you are savvy enough about plumbing, it’s worth giving it a look. Check your plumbing if you have problems with water pressure, slower drainage, or leaks. 

Plumbing is one of the most critical components of your home. You need to ensure it’s in sound condition before a home inspection. 

Don’t forget about the basement

Many homeowners forget about the basement as they hurry to put their homes on the market. A basement can hide many problems, from mold to foundation issues. Make sure to do a thorough check of your basement, looking for any signs of areas that may benefit from being addressed prior to your pre-listing home inspection.

Disclose any major findings 

Disclose any concerns before a home inspection. It will make a home inspector’s job easier. 

A home inspection brings to light any issues that could impact a home’s value or livability. A home inspector will check major components and systems of your home. If you tell them that you suspect certain problems or have found them on your own, it could save them some time, as they can get straight to them.

Many states, like Florida, require sellers of homes and residential properties to disclose the property’s condition and history to buyers. Check your state’s requirements for detailed information.

Sellers usually know their properties best, especially the issues that are not visible to the naked eye, and should disclose them to the buyer. In some states, the owner could be legally liable if they fail to disclose this information to the buyer. 

Remember that property owners are required to disclose only information that is within their knowledge. As a seller, you are not required to hire an inspector to discover any problems. But if you hire an inspector and they find out defects, you are legally obligated to disclose them to potential buyers.

What is a material defect?

The definition of a material defect can vary from state to state. A material defect is any issue that may have a significant impact on the market value of the property. It can also be a condition that poses risk to other people. 

How does a home inspection work?

A home inspection is a visual examination of the property that takes two to three hours for a single-family home.

During the process, the home inspector checks the foundation and structural integrity of the property. They will check for any cracks in the walls and if the doors and windows close.

A home inspector will also climb on the roof, where they will look for missing shingles or any areas that need attention. The interior part of the house will take the most time. A home inspector has to check various systems and assess the condition of kitchens, bathrooms, attics, and basements.

When examining a property, a home inspector will look for functional and material defects. They will also check for hazards like mold and visible termite damage.

When the process is over, a home inspector will walk you through the home to talk about findings and explain areas of concern, if there are any. 

You should take notes and ask a home inspector questions during this time. Some inspectors also provide services like radon or mold testing for an extra charge. 

What do home inspectors check?

A home inspector is a certified professional who provides you with an unbiased, detailed report on the condition of a property. They will create a report about the structure of a home and its major systems.

A home inspection report helps buyers make good decisions on the property and understand any problems that need to be addressed.

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a certified home inspector reviews the following:

  • Heating system 
  • Plumbing 
  • Electrical systems 
  • Roof and gutters 
  • Attic 
  • Walls, ceilings, and floors 
  • Windows and doors 
  • Foundation
  • Basement 

There are certain things that home inspectors are not allowed to do, and knowing them can make the process easier for you and your inspector.

What’s not included in a home inspection?

A home inspector assesses the condition of the property, but they don’t look for hazardous substances or the presence of animals or pests. A home inspector could find mold, but unless they have a special license, they are not qualified to check the extent of the problem. The same applies to termites and other pests.

Here’s a list of issues that are not covered by a home inspection:

  • Wood-destroying organisms and pests
  • Asbestos 
  • Mold 
  • Radon
  • Building code violations
  • Landscaping

If you want to check your home for radon, mold, or asbestos, you will need to hire a licensed professional specializing in one of these areas. A home inspector conducts only basic plumbing and electrical systems checks to identify the most obvious issues. Find a professional plumber or electrician for a more detailed inspection.

What happens after a home inspection?

A home inspector will deliver a report following the examination. 

The report includes the current condition of the house. It records the state of major systems and notes if there are any issues and how they affect the property.

Most problems identified by a home inspector have a summary and an explanation of their severity.

Remember that the inspector cannot give predictions about the home’s condition. A home inspector’s job is to identify areas that need attention or repair. Yet, they cannot make these repairs while inspecting the property. 

Parts of the home that are most prone to issues

Your home inspection report will include notes about each area of the home. But what if your home inspection report has any glaring issues? 

First, give your real estate agent a copy of the report and take the time to review it. Let them know the areas of concern and make a list prioritizing the most critical issues. 

Here are the parts of the home that are most prone to issues and what percentage of inspection reports include them:

  • Roof: 19.7%
  • Electrical: 18.7%
  • Windows: 18.4%
  • Gutters: 16.9%
  • Plumbing: 13.6%
  • Branches overhanging the roof: 13.3%
  • Fencing: 12.6%
  • Water heater: 12.2%
  • Driveways, sidewalks, patios, entrance landing: 11.9% 
  • Air conditioning: 9.9%
  • Exterior paint: 9.6%
  • Foundation issues/cracks: 8.9%
  • Downspouts: 8.9%
  • Improper ground grading: 8.8%
  • Moisture: 8.5%

How to resolve home inspection outcomes

When you know the property’s condition, you need to decide how you want to proceed with the transaction. Your actions depend on how severe the issues are, what the local real estate market looks like and how much you are interested in the property. 

  • Accept a house “as is”
  • Request repairs 
  • Ask to reduce the price based on the severity of the issues
  • Request a credit toward your closing costs
  • Back out of the sale (if an inspection contingency is in your purchase agreement)

Always include a home inspection in the home-buying process. A home inspection can identify severe flaws in a property and spare you from buying a money pit. Prepare for a home inspection – this will help you to understand the process and negotiate the price.