The home inspection is a necessary step in buying a home. I could say it a million times. It is vital. Without it, you are a vulnerable target – um, I mean, buyer. So many people forgo the home inspection process. They do this to satisfy the seller or to save money. Many think that the house appears to be in good shape and that’s enough. Some confuse the idea of an appraisal with an inspection.
One question: Would you buy a car without test driving it first?
That’s what you are doing when you buy a house. You haven’t lived in it. You don’t know what does and doesn’t work. You are simply buying it based on looks. You know nothing about what is under the hood. And the one way to see if your Rolls Royce might be a gas guzzler is to have the home inspected by a professional home inspector.
But don’t just turn the home over to an inspector. You need to be there too. Take a pad and pencil and be prepared to ask questions. You are better able to understand the final report and the home by being there in person. Ask the inspector to show you how certain items work. Can you maintain them yourself or should you hire a professional? How long do they usually last? What condition are they in now? I know you’ll get some of these answers in the report, but you should ask them too. This reinforces everything.
Have the inspector tell you the top three problems with the home as it stands. He may or may not give an opinion on whether he would buy the home. Remember, this isn’t his job. Many will keep their opinions to themselves as to the purchase.
Too-many people are giving up on the traditional home inspection. Yet, it remains an important tool for both the buyer and seller. The buyer gets peace of mind and a complete knowledge of the property while the seller receives protection from future lawsuits. But keep in mind that inspectors can only detect what they detect. They can miss things. However, they will catch more than the untrained person will.
Read the inspector’s report carefully. Use the information on the report to make your decision. You can make your purchase contract contingent on the home inspection report, much in the way it is contingent upon appraisal. Or, you could ask that the property be inspected before the initial offer to the seller. This often works in slower markets in which the buyer has the control. It will cost you, but it could save you from the time spent pursuing a property that you don’t buy in the end.
If a seller refuses to allow a home inspection, you should probably be a bit wary. This isn’t a good sign. What do they want to hide from you? Walk away from anyone that isn’t willing to let your mechanic lift the hood. This is the closest you will get to a test drive. It can save you from a $200,000 lemon the size of a home.
Russell J. Montjoy
Exit Deluxe reality
4600 N Park Ave.
Chevy Chase, Md. 20815