The Inspection

Your agent can help coordinate scheduling between you, the listing agent, the seller and inspector as well as give you suggestions of inspectors. An inspection can take anywhere from 1-5 hours, depending on the inspector and size of the home. You will want to be present if at all possible.

This is not only a time to discover if there are significant repairs needed; it is also a time where you learn about your future home’s care and maintenance schedule. Think of it as creating your “To Do” list that will be mapped out over the years. You also learn important things such as if pipes were to burst — where does one turn off the water main? What about earthquake safety and knowing how to turn off your gas quickly? There are many important reasons for an inspection.

Buyers are free to hire an inspector of their choice, but buyers must choose to hire a licensed home inspector. Some licensed home inspectors have contracting or engineering backgrounds; all must be licensed to perform pest inspections. Inspections can cost anywhere from $275 to $500, depending on the size of the condo or house.

The Seller Disclosure form is a document in which sellers answer, to the best of their knowledge, a series of questions about the condition of the home and any known material defects. If there are any concerns regarding any of the disclosures, this is a good time to work with your inspector on gaining full knowledge. The inspector may encourage even more expertise and suggest additional inspections. There is a timeline for this in your purchase and sale agreement.

Inspectors will look for major safety and maintenance issues, as well as minor problems such as sticking windows or paint touch-up. Inspector warranties vary and you should review this issue with your inspector.

If repairs need to be done, who does them? This is a negotiable issue. Depending on the extent of repairs needed, you may simply decide to do the repairs yourself at your own cost after you become the owner. That way you have the most control over who is hired and can oversee the work quality. Alternately, you can ask the seller to have the repairs done, or ask for a reduction in purchase price (or a credit towards your closing costs), and the seller can agree or not.

Does a buyer have to purchase the house if they change their mind during the inspection period? No. You simply disapprove the inspection; no reason is required.

How to Reduce Stress

I will provide you with a sample inspection report before you have your own inspection. It is important to review it before the inspection, especially if you have never been through one before. Inspections can be overwhelming for those with a weak stomach. It is important to remember the inspector’s obligation is to point out all visible deficiencies. ALL homes have deficiencies; there is no flawless home. Even new construction can have a multitude of problems if a contractor has cut corners or used inferior building materials.

You can reduce your own stress by going in with a realistic understanding of what the inspection is about. It is important to develop your own level of tolerance for maintenance and repairs and weigh all the information alongside maintenance and repair costs. All homes require ongoing maintenance costs. This is why condo associations collect homeowner’s dues. A homeowner should do the same for their single-family home.

Some experts advise homeowners to expect to spend about 1% of their homes’s value per year on maintenance. The inspector helps you develop a calendar of anticipated costs and your home maintenance “To Do” list.

Following the inspection the buyer sends a reply notice – it can be as simple as “inspection waived” or it can begin a series of negotiations.