How to Get the Most from Your Home Inspection

Once your offer is accepted, the next step is the home inspection.  A licensed professional home inspector assesses the condition of the property and writes a detailed report, often including photos of their findings.  Buyers use this report and the inspection itself to decide how to proceed with the purchase.  If you have an inspection contingency in the offer, a buyer even has the option to cancel the contract and terminate the purchase.

As a buyer, you also have a few other options for handling repairs that may be uncovered- asking the seller to complete the repairs before closing, asking for a reduction in purchase price so the buyer can cover repairs, or asking for a credit from the seller at closing to off-set the cost of repairs.

Although a home inspector can not tell you the estimated cost of repairs, if you are attending the home inspection with your realtor, you will be able to get enough information to take an educated next step.   Here are 4 tips to get the most out of your inspection when you attend:

1. Attend the Home InspectionMany buyers make the mistake of having their realtor handle this without them present.   Make it a point to get off work and attend with your realtor.   While you are at the inspection, if the home inspector points something out to you that is potentially an issue, ask him or her if you should get an expert in that area to come take a look.  A home inspector is a generalist, so he/she is not an expert in pest removal and repairs, a structural engineer, or a carpenter.  The home inspector will be able to estimate the remaining lifespan of the roof for example, and if this concerns you, may want to contact an expert in that type of work (i.e. a roofing contractor) to get an estimate on how much the repair or replacement will actually cost.

2. Take Notes
This is probably the only time you’ll have a few hours to spend objectively looking at the property before you purchase it.  Take along a pad of paper or make notes on your smart phone of everything you want to do to the home.  You may assume something is cosmetic, but it may be an expensive change.  Having a good list to review with your Realtor post inspection is critical if you want to be able to negotiate with the seller.  You’ll want to make calls to get ball park estimates on what the cost of your updates and projects may be and your Realtor most likely has a list of professionals they can refer you to for these types of estimates.  If something requires another visit to the home (i.e. a structural engineer), they’ll also be the ones that need to arrange this.

3. Ask Questions 
If you don’t know how something works (i.e. like how to shut off the gas to the home), the home inspector is the one to ask.  He or she will know how all major systems operate as they are testing them as part of the home inspection. 

4.  Read the Entire Report and Discuss with Your Realtor
The report, coupled with your list of items from the inspection serves as the basis for any negotiation you are going to attempt with the seller if you had a home inspection contingency. Once you’ve discussed your list and the report with your Realtor, you will have a good idea of what, if anything you are going to ask the seller to do.  If you don’t have an inspection contingency, this punch list helps you plan your budget for any upgrades or remodels you’ll need to handle post move in.

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