Know What You Buy: Benefits of Home Inspection

If you are looking into buying a house and settling down, you may want to take extra efforts to ensure the house is in the best possible condition. This is why it’s not surprising that home inspection is becoming more prominent in the current real estate market.

The higher house prices go, the more concerned buyers become about the quality of their purchase. They want to make sure that the property is in a good condition and that it is worth the money they are paying. Beyond the monetary aspect, they are looking for a safe, secure and cozy place for their (future) family. This investment is not something people take lightly.

If you are still unsure of whether you need to hire a home inspector, here are a few key things to think about!

1. Understand the condition of the house

The main goal of a house inspection is to report on a home condition, which includes identifying potential future problems and safety concerns, and describing the general state of different parts of the house (structure, construction, plumbing, and other key home components).

2. Spend now to save later

Some buyers don’t want to invest into a home inspection, stating that it falls under ‘extra expenses’ on top of their house purchase. In reality, a home inspection adds more value for property buyers than they realize.

Finding out about water leakages and/or non-working appliances after the purchase can lead to unexpected and pricey repairs down the road. In this case, a home inspection is an investment into the buyer’s future, as it allows them to plan ahead, or even to request the seller to do the repairs before the deal is struck.

And if you happen to be one of the cases where an inspection showed no major home defects, that will only give you peace of mind and confidence in the property you are getting.

3. Contribute to a smooth purchase

Conducting a home inspection before purchasing a home can help answer a lot of questions about the property, making it easier for both the buyer and the seller to agree on the market value of the house.

If major issues are identified in the home inspection report, the buyer has a basis to ask for a lower property price or to advocate for the repairs to be done prior to the purchase. On the other hand, seeing that no major repairs are needed in a home can make it easier to accept the house price. Having access to accurate information about the house condition puts everything out in the open and allows both parties to have a fair and easy negotiation process.


9 Home Inspection Tips to Get Through the ‘Deal Killer’ Phase of Selling Your House

Home inspections have a reputation for being deal killers. In fact, one out of every 20 real estate transactions hits a fatal snag along the way, and nearly a third of the ones that don’t make it to closing fall apart because of issues that turned up during the inspection, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

Although real estate is an appreciating asset, a property’s physical structure naturally deteriorates over time and requires significant upkeep. Although some problems that arise will be apparent—like a burst pipe or deep crack in the driveway—not all of the wear and tear on a home’s inner workings are visible to the naked eye.

That’s why when the time comes to sell your house, the inspection could yield surprises even if you’ve kept to a routine home maintenance schedule. It’s a nerve-wracking position to be in as a homeowner, so we’ve asked experts in the field for their top home inspection tips to help sellers prepare mentally and logistically for this step on the road to closing.

Trust your real estate agent to help you navigate home inspection preparations and negotiations.

After you’ve accepted an offer on your house, the buyers of the home will schedule the home inspection within about a 10-day time frame. Depending on how many times you’ve sold a house before, you may have little to no experience preparing for the home inspection and the negotiations that will follow.

Now’s the time to put your trust in your real estate agent, who, if they’re like top-selling Weston, Florida, real estate pro David Magua, have been through this time and again—approximately 391 home inspections, to be exact.

Your real estate agent should help you:

  • Understand the types of home maintenance issues that are common in your area, whether it’s signs of water leakage in a region where every home has a basement, improper electrical wiring in a neighborhood of historic homes, or pest issues in warm climates.
  • Craft a game plan for any repair requests—to think about whether you have time to hire contractors to fix issues yourself or offer repair credits in the event that problems do arise.
  • Take the pulse of your real estate market to determine how much leverage you have as the homeowner depending on if you’re in a buyer’s market or seller’s market, and how eager prospective buyers will be to snatch up your house.
  • Differentiate between minor and major home inspection findings and what constitutes grounds for negotiations (cosmetic repairs versus issues that pose a health or safety threat). “A good listing agent’s top priority shouldn’t be to simply sell houses”, says Magua. “Yes, we’re a great concierge, but we should (also) be a wealth of information, not just in marketing the house, but in what the market does and how to get that property being marketed out of market and sold.”

Allow the inspector the necessary time to do their job thoroughly.

Rushing the home inspector isn’t going to do you any favors. You should expect that the process will take a minimum of 2 to 4 hours for an average home, with a general rule of an hour per 1,000 square feet. The inspection may last longer if your home is particularly old or has additional features to inspect such as a pool, shed, attic, or crawl space.

The buyer and the buyer’s agent are typically at the house during the inspection, but in most cases it’s best for the seller to leave. Have your agent communicate with the buyer’s agent about scheduling. Perhaps you can arrange for the appointment to be while you’re at work or can get everyone (including the kids) out of the house for a few hours. If you want to be present for the inspection, talk to your agent about the pros and cons. Be aware that being there may make the buyer uncomfortable.

Don’t leave pets behind to “help” during the inspection.

Make sure that all pets are out of the house during the time of the home inspection. Your aged Golden Retriever may be as sweet as pie, but the inspector needs the space to do the most thorough job possible. Putting pets in a kennel or bedroom and closing the door isn’t enough—they need to be completely out of the house for the duration of the inspection.

Leave the house in fully operational condition for the inspection.

Make sure that all utilities—gas, water, and electricity—are on, and provide the remote controls for any associated equipment such as lights or ceiling fans. This is particularly important when you’re selling a vacant home or if you’ve already moved out of the property. The inspector will want to make sure that all appliances function properly and the utilities must be on for this to happen! All this will make it much easier for the inspector to do their job as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Declutter to give the inspector clear access to where they need to be.

Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, points to clutter as a primary barrier between your home and an inspector’s ability to examine it.

“When things are piled up, it’s hard to see areas that the inspector needs to get to,” says Lesh. “If there’s something blocking, say, the electrical panel, like a china cabinet or a washing machine, we can’t move that stuff.”

In order to get to what inspectors call readily accessible areas—and to complete what the National Association of Home Inspectors says is a 1,600-item checklist —the inspectors first need to be able to get to those areas. “We have to be able to get the areas we need to inspect. If we can’t find it, we can’t inspect it,” Lesh said. “That’s never good because it leaves a bad feeling on the buyer’s part.”

Lesh estimated that limited access to key spaces happens “fairly often,” as frequently as one out of every five inspections. Sometimes that means the inspector can’t assess basement walls when they are blocked by stored items and stacked boxes; other times clutter prevents inspectors from accessing the home’s foundation.

Whatever the situation, the fact is that if the things that are stacked and packed in your home are keeping inspectors from doing their jobs, that’s not going to reflect well in their home inspection report.


10 facts about home inspectors

What standards do inspectors have?

Not only should home inspectors have experience and be knowledgeable about building techniques and materials, but they should also have some way to document that.

ASHI requires its members to pass two comprehensive written tests and to perform at least 250 professional fee-paid inspections. After a report review and a minimum of six months as a candidate, they may be granted membership. They must also uphold ASHI-prescribed ethical standards, which helps prevent conflicts of interest and promotes fairness in dealing with consumers.

“Some people who call themselves inspectors will comment on the market value of a home, try to enter into the negotiations, or solicit repair work after an inspection,” says ASHI President John Palczuk, who also heads Carolina Home Inspection Associates Inc. in Raleigh, N.C. “ASHI inspectors won't do that.”

Are home inspectors licensed?

Some states require licensing of home inspectors. According to ASHI, they are Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.

What actually do inspectors do?

If you're afraid you'll sound silly on this one, don’t be. First, a home inspector isn’t a guarantor or the municipal or county inspector looking for code violations, Palczuk says. The inspector examines the components of a home that are accessible and visible.

“But minor or cosmetic flaws should be apparent without the aid of an inspector,” he notes.

In a typical prepurchase home inspection, according to ASHI standards, the inspector will look at the heating system, central air-conditioning system, interior plumbing and electrical systems, roof, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, and foundation, basement, and visible structure.

What should I tell the buyers or sellers if they balk at an inspection?

For sellers, an inspection gives them a better idea of any problem areas that might exist, Palczuk says. Thus they have a chance to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition or to adjust the listing price accordingly.

For buyers, many of whom are making the biggest investment of their lives, the inspection helps eliminate surprises that can sour a deal.

Why can’t buyers and sellers do their own inspection?

Neither sellers nor buyers can stay objective about property they have a financial—or emotional—interest in, says Palczuk. They need an objective opinion from a trained third party. Inspectors understand a home's systems and how they function together and why they might fail.

Good home inspectors can provide all parties with an objective assessment, which can be a plus when you need to counter “handypersons” who'd like to do their own inspection.

Can an inspector flunk your house?

No. Because a home inspection isn’t an appraisal or a code inspection, an inspector can’t fail a house. An inspector will describe the home's physical condition and indicate what may need major repair or replacement.

Will an inspector kill your deal?

No. “Think of the inspector as an educator,” says Palczuk.

The inspector educates the sellers and the buyers about the conditions of a home, with an important aspect being to highlight the positive qualities. For the sellers, the inspector can help demonstrate your good faith to protect their interests in terms of legal obligations to disclose the home's condition. And the inspector's comments or recommendations can help dispel buyers’ worries and offer useful maintenance tips.

When do inspectors get started, how much do they charge, and how long do they take?

Generally, home inspectors get started after the sales contract is signed, provided the contract includes a clause making the final sale contingent on the results of the home inspection. Most inspectors are available on a one- to 14-day notice, Palczuk says. Costs and time vary, depending on the purchase price, location, size, age, and any special features of the home.

Do home inspectors view all kinds of properties, like condos, town homes, and new homes?

Yes. The home inspector knows how to treat these kinds of properties, which sometimes have unique requirements. In multifamily dwellings, for example, each individual unit—no matter how small—is part of the bigger whole, the association. Inspectors know that big costs to the association will result in big assessments to the unit owners, says Palczuk. “The mentality that the association maintains everything is a big myth,” he says. “If there are 300 condos, you are 1/300th of the association. So if you take care of a small problem before it becomes a big problem, assessments for repairs may be reduced.”

As for new homes, inspectors go beyond the visit by the typical building inspector, whose visit may take only 20 to 40 minutes to ensure the home warrants a certificate of occupancy. A home inspector's scrutiny could take two to three hours.

“It’s not to be critical of building inspectors, but they won't pick up everything,” Palczuk says. “And the defects we pick up often parallel code violations.”

How do I find an inspector?

You can ask other brokers or your sales associates for their best recommendations or consult the Yellow Pages. But be aware that the field of home inspections is rapidly growing. Not everyone who does inspections is actually qualified. You can get a list of ASHI members in your area by calling the ASHI fax-on-demand number, 800/743-2744, or by visiting

NAR analysts note that many brokers recommend at least three inspectors to buyers to reduce liability for assigning only one to them.