95% of homes active on the market go through a home inspection before selling.
Once the seller accepts an offer on the home and the house goes into escrow, the home inspection takes place. A home inspection is a thorough examination of the home where the buyer hires a reputable home inspector to search for major safety and health issues.
No home is built to perfection, sometimes there are underlying issues even the homeowner is unaware of. That’s why it’s critical to ensure there won’t be any unwanted surprises once the home is fully in your name.
We often get a lot of questions about the home inspection process, so let’s walk through the details together.
What to Expect at a Home Inspection
Home inspections take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. For an average sized home, a home inspection takes approximately 3 hours. To get a more accurate estimate, ask the home inspector how long they think it should take for your property.
There are three goals of a home inspection:
- Identify problems and safety hazards
- Suggest potential fixes
- Create a written report with images
Inspectors will search in and around the home to identify and document any major functional and material defects. Once the written report is complete, the inspector usually walks through the home with the buyer to explain their findings.
What Are Home Inspectors Looking for During the Inspection?
If you’re serious about buying a home, it pays to know exactly what’s going on in and around the home. No matter how beautiful a home looks to the naked eye, safety hazards can still be lurking in the shadows. Here is what’s covered during a home inspection:
- Roof condition and leaks
- Major/large foundation cracking
- Faulty electrical boxes and wiring
- Exterior damage
- Internal water damage
- HVAC issues
- Water heater issues
- Structural damage from pests
- Poor plumbing/low water pressure
- Other potential safety concerns depending on your state’s mandates
Who Pays for a Home Inspection? The Buyer or the Seller?
A home inspection costs between $300 and $500 depending on the location, structure size, and services required. The buyer is responsible for this cost, and while often seen as a luxury, it’s an act well-worth its cost.
Opting out of a home inspection because of the cost is never advisable, no matter how new the home is. A home inspection is not a pass or fail test – no one is obligated to fix anything unless directly stated by the inspector. However, inspections often open the door for negotiations.
If the seller is not willing to fix the problems listed by the inspector, then as a buyer, you can walk away or renegotiate the terms to take the repairs or damages off the closing costs.
What to Look for When Choosing a Home Inspector
Not just anyone can come inspect a home. They need to be properly licensed, certified, and insured to inspect your home. If you don’t know a home inspector personally, most realtors will have worked with a home inspector in the past and can recommend one for you.
Aside from certification and experience, you also want to ensure the home inspector is trustworthy. Ask them questions about their process, what they’ve encountered in the past, and the services they offer.
Throughout conversation, they should be accommodating to your wishes, knowledgeable about the process and services, and willing to communicate openly about everything related to the home.
Finding a home inspector that belongs to trade groups is in your best interest. Home inspector trade groups like:
- National Institute of Building Inspectors (NIBI)
- American Home Inspectors Training (AHIT)
- The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
Here are a few extra tips to get the most out of your home inspection.
Moving Forward After the Home Inspection
If the buyer hired the home inspector and major problems occur after the inspection, contact the inspector and ask about their liability insurance.
If a home inspection reveals issues, there are a few things the buyer can do:
- Ask the seller to make the repairs.
- Ask for closing cost credits.
- Ask for a reduction to the sales price.
- Walk away from the deal.
- Move forward with the purchase.
While a home inspection may seem like a costly step in the home buying process, the overall cost is worth the peace of mind and avoidance of potentially expensive repairs later on.