What To Know About Home Inspections Before You Shop
Spring is just around the corner and once the weather gets nice a real estate shift typically happens fast. Buying a home is an emotional process and many experienced agents will tell you to make as many decisions upfront as possible. Make sure you have a plan and are not making judgment calls in the heat of the moment. I would argue selecting an experienced real estate agent who really cares for your best interest is the most important first step you can take. That being said I am a home inspector so for this article I am going to focus on understanding more about how inspections and your personal plan for the inspection process.
One thing that will happen for sure is there will be some level of pressure to sweeten your offer by going no inspection. Today’s market is competitive, and your realtor is going to mention your options. Of course, one of them will be to remove or limit contingencies. Even if your realtor is not necessarily recommending it, they will likely discuss it, and in many situations, it will be accompanied by information about other offers and them potentially waiving as well. I can tell you that we see situations when people waived inspection and it worked out ok, and other situations where it went badly. I am heavily biased so I won’t offer advice on waiving or not, but I will say every buyer in today’s market should expect some level of pressure to make that decision.
Many people have heard about inspections happening before their offer is made. Most people like the idea of having a home inspector just check things out so they can feel better about waiving their inspections. This is a complicated topic. According to the Massachusetts Board of Licensed Home inspectors, any type of consultation like this “pursuant to the sale” of a property constitutes a home inspection. Therefore, the standards of practice for a home inspector need to be followed. There are home inspectors doing 45-minute “walk and talks” without any reports which in my opinion is a clear violation of the standards of practice. If your home inspector doesn’t follow the regs you have to ask,” will their insurance still apply?”, and “how will I prove he missed something?”, “Should I feel reassured from this inspection?”. I think these are valid questions and I and other inspectors offer an alternative. We simply do a proper inspection prior to the offer being made. You still get an actual inspection and all we need is a little longer access to the property. Some sellers don’t want to know about additional issues because they don’t want to have to disclose them. Realtors often have to agree not to share the findings to get sellers to agree to these types of inspections.
A traditional inspection is still the best option and due to the rise in rates is becoming more frequent again. A traditional inspection is a home inspection prior to purchasing a property conforming to the standards of practice for a home inspection. Typically, there is a week or so window to have an inspection completed and after the inspection you may bring in additional experts, negotiate, or take other actions based on the results. Every situation is different so you should understand the terms of your inspection contingency prior to submitting an offer by talking to your attorney, real estate agent, and preferably your home inspector of choice. There is a lot more to understand about your home inspection so you should research it prior to getting into the process.
“As is”/Informational Only Inspections
This is like a traditional home inspection, in that, it happens after an accepted offer, but before the purchase. The primary distinction is that there would be no negotiation after this inspection and depending on how it is submitted you may not have the grounds to walk away from the property based on the findings. Ultimately, negotiating over the price is not the most important part of a home inspection. The seller typically undervalues issues and if they complete repairs, they are likely to complete them as inexpensively as possible. The main purpose of a home inspection in my mind is to understand what you’re buying. If you can decide “do I want this property or not” after the inspection I am all for it. Information-only inspections are great in my mind if you can assess if the house is right for you and if you can decide if the property is right for you.
Post Sale Inspections
If you don’t get an inspection prior to buying a home, you should consider a post-sale inspection. You may be taking a financial risk by waiving your inspection, but you don’t have to live in an unsafe home. Most people would rather buy new furniture than get an inspection after purchasing, but you need to know the home is safe for your family. Time and time again clients express they wish they had known earlier and in the grand scheme of things an inspection fee is a small price to pay for piece of mind. If you are going to waive your inspection, commit to getting one immediately post-sale.
Get a great team (realtor, attorney, lender, home inspector)
Make your decisions in advance
Understand your options
Stick to your plan
Call your home inspector to understand the process prior to finding a home and vet your home inspector independently. Don’t rely on whomever your agent recommends, compare and contrast all your options. Don’t stress and having seen many buyers through the process I can tell you it rarely happens fast and typically works out for the best in the long run despite all the ups and downs. Good luck!!
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