Congratulations! Your offer to purchase an adorable 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath Cape Cod with an updated Kitchen has been accepted! While now is a good time to shimmy a little victory dance, there are still some steps you will need to take before the deal is fully put to bed. One of the most important steps you will need to take as a buyer is to have a Home Inspection. Although it is possible to opt out of this step in the home buying process, it is in your best interest to have a licensed professional go over the property and structure to let you know if there are any functional, structural or safety related issues that need to be addressed prior to closing.
There are several ways to find a home inspector. In all likelihood, your Real Estate Agent will have a list of licensed Home Inspection professionals that they recommend through their office. Although these people are endorsed by the your agent or company, the Real Estate Agent and the Home Inspection company are not likely affiliated, so there is no monetary incentive for your agent to give you those specific recommendations. The nice thing part of having those recommendations though, is that the vetting has already been done for you! If you do not wish to use any of these Home Inspectors, there are many ways to find your own. One of the easiest is to visit the sites for The National Association of Home Inspectors, The National Institute of Building Inspectors, and the American Society of Home Inspectors and use their “find an inspector” function. Use who you feel most comfortable with! After all, the Inspector works for and is paid by you.
The basic process of the Home Inspection is to determine if there are any structural, functional or safety related issues with the house that need to be addressed prior to closing. Depending on the size of the house, this usually takes between 2-4 hours, and it is a good idea to be present so that you can point out any concerns you might have. An example of a structural issue could be a crack in the foundation, and some functional issues could be a leaky roof or a stove that is past its average useful life. Some safety concerns could be the presence of mold, radon, an oil tank, etc. This sounds like a lot that could go wrong and foil your chance at owning that dream house, but fear not! Once you have the information it is usually possible to negotiate so that both the buyer and the seller feel comfortable with how the major issues will be addressed. Often times the seller will be willing to either repair the damages prior to closing, or give the buyer partial or full monetary compensation to do it themselves. After all, the sellers want the deal to close too!
The important thing to remember once you receive the Home Inspection Report is to keep your cool. It is a stack of pages that you’ll feel is comparable in length to a Tom Clancy novel, but many of the issues noted will be very minor. Just try to address anything that is of major concern with the seller, and don’t let the little things like a cracked bathroom tile stand in between you and your shiny new house keys.