Your home inspection list of 8 missteps to avoid
Once your offer has been accepted, the next step is getting through your inspections. As the buyer, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared & know what to expect -- and we’re here to help with that.
We’ve compiled a list of the eight biggest home inspection missteps that cost buyers money. Read them over to make sure you go into this process with your best foot forward:
1. Skipping the inspection entirely
You’ve probably heard that waving your right to inspections is a powerful negotiating tool to getting your offer accepted. While this is true, it’s also a risk. When you skip inspections, you’re essentially agreeing to buy the property, regardless of any damage that may be present. You’re also agreeing to take financial responsibility for the necessary repairs.
In contrast, if you elect to have a home inspection done, you’ll have the opportunity to walk away from the deal, if the damage is too extensive for you to handle.
You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons to decide whether not the extra bargaining power is worth it.
Ask yourself: Is this your dream home? Will you be devastated if it goes to someone else? Are you financially equipped to handle potentially-costly, unexpected repairs? Would you feel more comfortable looking at another home where electing to perform a home inspection is not a deal-breaker?
2. Hiring someone uncertified
As the buyer, you’re responsible for hiring the inspector of your choice. However, that doesn’t mean that you can bring in just anyone. While each state has its own specific requirements, most insist that in order for an inspection to be considered valid, the inspector must be properly licensed, certified, and up-to-date on their educational requirements.
You should look into your state’s specific regulations to make sure that any inspector you hire will make the cut, but in general, it’s a good idea to hire someone certified by one of the three, main associations. They are the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) , the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).
3. Neglecting to read reviews first
That said, being properly certified isn’t the only quality that you should look for in a home inspector.
Just as you would with any other contractor, you should do a little research to get a sense of their work history before hiring the person that you feel is the best fit. Reading reviews is a great way to know what you’re getting into.
Ideally, you’ll want to hire someone who has quite a few positive reviews to choose from. In particular keep an eye out for the following: Was the inspector on time? Was he or she easy to work with? Were the buyers able to understand the inspection report without too much difficulty? Were any mistakes discovered after-the-fact?
4. Having unrealistic expectations
The term ‘home inspection’ can be a bit vague, so it’s not all that surprising that many buyers aren’t sure what to expect. It’s important to know that this inspection only covers certain interior elements of the home - things like the electrical and plumbing, heating and cooling systems, and the condition of windows.
However, exterior elements like the roof, the sewage system, and any other exterior structures on the property are not covered. While you are, of course, welcome to have any of these other factors looked at, you’ll need to elect additional inspections in order to do so.
While putting your offer together, you should ask the agent you’re working with if any additional inspections are appropriate.
We've compiled a full list of home inspections we recommend you get right here.
5. Not showing up for the inspection
While the inspection report will give you a sense of the scope of the repairs a home needs, it’s not the same as seeing it with your own eyes.
The best thing you can do, as the buyer, to ensure that you’re going into the sale with open eyes is to attend your inspections. The home inspector will be there to explain any problems to you and answer your questions, if needed.
Arrive on-time and accompany the inspector as he or she examines the property. You should finish with with a realistic picture of the severity of any damage and a firm idea of when you can expect to have a report in hand.
6. Skimming the inspection report
Sometimes inspection reports can get a little long and dense, so buyers will make the mistake of skimming it rather than reading the whole thing. Unfortunately, this can have unexpected consequences, especially if you should happen to miss a huge - or expensive - issue.
The reality is, the inspection report is your get-out-of-jail-free card. If a problem is discovered during the inspection that’s too big for you to handle, you can walk away from the deal and get your money back - as long as you cite the problem during negotiations. If you don’t mention it, but discover the problem later, there’s no going back. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before your money is on the line.
7. Negotiating poorly
Most buyers wish that they could ask the sellers to fix all of the problems found on the inspection report. While that would be ideal, it’s also unrealistic. Negotiations are a give-and-take, after all, and it’s a much better idea to make sure that sellers feel compelled to fix the most important issues with their home, rather than letting them cherrypick the easiest ones from a long list.
When negotiating, we recommend that you focus on the two or three problems that are most important to you and chalk the rest up to the cost of homeownership.
Keep in mind that structural or mechanical issues are often big-ticket fixes that you’ll want the seller to handle. Smaller fixes that can be done by a handyman can often be taken care of at a later date and at little cost to you.
8. Forgetting to collect documentation
If your seller does agree to do some repairs, you’ll want to be sure to collect any documentation on the work that was done. Contractor invoices can give you reassurance that the repair was made by a qualified professional and will also give you someone to turn to in the event that there’s another problem down the road.