Why it’s essential to inspect a home

  • By Steve Tytler
  • Sunday, April 3, 2011 12:01am
  • Life

QWe are getting ready to make an offer on a house.

We are really struggling to come up with the money for the down payment and closing costs.

We know that you recommend hiring a professional home inspector. We have checked around and found that a home inspector will cost at least $300

to $400. That’s a lot of money for us.

Is it really necessary to hire an inspector, or is it just something that would be “nice” to do if you can afford it?

AI know that it is very difficult for some home buyers to scrape together enough money to cover the down payment and closing costs, but I stick by my advice that you should always hire a professional home inspector when buying a home.

I am a licensed real estate broker, and I have bought and sold many houses over the past 26 years, but I would never consider buying a house or condo without having it inspected by a professional home inspector. It’s just not worth the risk.

Why?

When you buy a home, it is easy to “fall in love” with a property and overlook its defects. When you bring in a professional home inspector, he or she is not emotionally involved, and therefore you get an objective opinion.

The inspector’s job is to tell you everything that is wrong with the property, while most buyers tend to focus only on the positive aspects of a home.

Keep in mind that no house is perfect. Every house will have problems, and the purpose of the inspection is to make sure that problems are minor things that can be corrected relatively easily and not major structural problems that are expensive to fix.

So don’t panic when the inspector gives you a long list of defects; just be sure there is nothing serious or expensive to repair.

Also, be sure to hire an independent inspector who is not in the home remodeling or repair business. If the inspector works for a building contractor, he or she will have a conflict of interest in recommending repairs.

Here are some other tips for choosing an inspector:

1. Ask how long they have they been in business. Some inspectors claim to have “30 years experience,” but 29 of those years might have been in the construction industry, with only one year of actual experience as an independent home inspector.

2. Get references. Talk to former clients to see if they were satisfied with the inspection report they received. It is not uncommon to hear complaints from unhappy home buyers who discover serious structural defects after moving into a home that was supposedly in “good condition” according to the report from the inspector they had hired.

3. Ask how long the inspection will take. A good, thorough home inspection takes two to three hours or more, including crawling under the house and getting up on the roof to look for defects not easily detected by buyers walking inside or around the house.

4. Ask what kind of report you will get. Written reports vary from simple checklists to comprehensive narrative essays detailing the home’s problems. One method isn’t necessarily better than the other, you just want to make sure that the inspector does a thorough job of detailing his or her findings about every facet of the home’s structure and systems.

5. You usually get what you pay for, so don’t automatically pick the least expensive inspector.

6. If at all possible, you should accompany the inspector during the home inspection to ask questions and to make sure that he or she does a thorough job. The inspector may point out areas of concern that never occurred to you, and he or she may also relieve your worries about defects that may not be as difficult or expensive to correct as you might imagine.

The bottom line is, always hire an inspector when buying a home. I know that cash is tight when you’re trying to scrape together enough money to cover the down payment and closing costs, but spending $400 on an inspection today could save you literally thousands of dollars in unexpected repair costs down the road.

Steve Tytler is a licensed real estate broker and owner of Best Mortgage. Email him at features@heraldnet.com.

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