For most people purchasing a home is the biggest investment we will ever make. A home inspection can help insure that the home is a good, solid home that isn’t going to fall apart around them. The buyer needs to know that they are not purchasing a home that will be a money pit costing them lots of additional money in repairs and that the home is safe for their family to live in. While this article is mainly about home inspections from the buyer’s point of view, lets touch on the seller for a minute. Why would a seller want to get a home inspection? We are actually recommending that sellers get their homes inspected prior to putting them on the market these days for several reasons. Mainly, because it gives the seller an opportunity to make any repairs necessary prior to putting the home on the market so they aren’t scrambling to make repairs while they are also trying to pack, find another home and move. In addition, having a home pre-inpsected and showing proof of repairs gives the buyer more confidence in the purchase of the home. They know exactly what the issues are going in and what has been done to correct any issues. Also of benefit to the seller is that the home should sell for more money and the seller won’t have to worry about a buyer coming back and saying this and that need to be fixed so I want a reduction on the sales price.
In North Carolina we live in a Caveat Emptor state meaning “let the buyer beware”. The buyer is given every opportunity to inspect the home prior to the purchase of the home but once the home is purchased, the home is theirs, problems and all. In North Carolina, sellers are required to fill out disclosures answering general questions about the home conditions. Sellers are also required to disclose any known information about health-harming substances such as mold and lead paint. In North Carolina there is another disclosure regarding the Oil and Mineral Rights but that’s not pertinent to this topic. The problem with these general disclosures is that sellers are only required to disclose KNOWN issues. Sellers do not have to poke around the roof or go deep into the foundations to uncover any problems with the property. Most sellers will not know about problems that are not easily seen by the untrained eye. This is why 84% of home buyers hire a professional home inspector to do a thorough inspection of the home.
How it works (as a buyer)
After you have signed the contract, inspections usually happen within 7-10 days. Your agent will set up the inspections for you. Typically, buyers are invited to attend the inspections. Most buyers choose to go but some can’t make it or choose not to go. It is better to have an inspector that is willing to let the buyer follow them around and explain things to the buyer as they go. Although some buyers would prefer not to crawl around in attics or crawl spaces and have the inspector just do a summary at the end of the inspection and review everything at that time.
The home inspector makes an evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a house (plumbing system, roof, etc.) and is intended to give the client (usually a home buyer) a better understanding of their condition. The home inspector examines the structure and components of the home and notes any structural, mechanical and other defects, he also points out safety concerns. Expect him to run the dishwasher, turn on faucets, check to make sure tubs and sinks hold water, turn on every light switch, check every accessible electrical outlet, check windows and doors and, make sure the heating and cooling system is working appropriately.
The home inspector can check for other things as well if requested, like radon, testing of well water and checking the condition of docks. These are items which are typically an added cost and must be requested prior to the inspection.
The inspector is not an appraisal, the home inspector cannot tell you what the home is worth. The inspector is not an attorney, he/she cannot tell you if there are any legal issues with the home.
The inspector is primarily there to check the “big picture” looking for safety, structural soundness and functionality of the home’s components.
The American Society of Home Inspectors has issued a set of rules that dictate what an inspector must inspect and how he should report his findings. In theory, only ASHI-certified inspectors are required to follow the ASHI code of practice, but many states have endorsed ASHI’s guidelines as the benchmark for all state-registered home inspectors. Thus, a home inspector’s report will almost always cover the following components of the home: heating and air conditioning systems, electrical systems, plumbing, roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, foundation, basement, insulation and the exterior and structure of the home.
After the inspection
After the inspection, the inspector will issue a report to the buyer and their agent. The agent will then review the report with the buyer. After reviewing the inspection report, the buyer will make a formal request to the seller for items to be repaired. This formal request is called a Due Diligence Repair Request and Agreement. The items are listed out on this form and is usually sent to the seller’s agent along with a copy of the summary of the report. Most agents will advise that the buyer pick and choose their battles and stick to the bigger items on the report. The reason for this that is buyer’s typically don’t want to be unreasonable or nit picky in hopes of actually getting all that they are requesting approved. The inspection report will likely point out very minor issues like changing of the air filters or a cracked light switch plate. When you have items like those on a report next to a roof repair and HVAC issues, the seller will begin to feel like it’s unfair and they are being beaten up. It’s not a new construction after all. Stick to the bigger issues and as a buyer you will stand a better chance of getting your requests agreed to without hesitation.
Since generally speaking you have no idea what quality of workmanship went into the repairs, it can be a great idea to have the repairs re-inspected. Most inspectors will charge an additional fee for this service. In lieu of doing that, you can always ask the seller for copies of receipts from the contractors who completed the work. Some repairs will likely be done by a handyman, you should still be able to get a copy of a receipt for work performed from a handyman as well. It would also be a good idea to visibly check the repairs yourself after the seller has notified your agent that the repairs are complete. If you are uncomfortable with how a repair was made, call a professional in that trade to come and check it out.
Advice for Home Sellers
In North Carolina, we have a Due Diligence period wherein the buyer can walk away from the contract for any reason or no reason before 5:00 on the Due Diligence Date on the contract. If substantial problems are found at inspection, as a seller your risk of a buyer walking away substantially increases. Even if you agree to the repairs, your buyer has become nervous. One of the smartest things you can do is to hire a home inspector before you list a home for sale. That way, you can avoid any nasty surprises once under contract. Hiring an inspector up front will give you the time you need to get the repair made and will help make sure the price you get on the contract is the price you will get at the closing.
Are you looking to buy or sell a home in North Charlotte or the Lake Norman area? Call 704-408-2834