Guest column by Cindy King, Principal Broker, ReMax Key Properties
Many of my buyers have asked over the years, “Is a home inspection necessary?” The question is posed most often when they are purchasing new construction. Each time I recommend that an inspection be done for various reasons. Here are a few examples of how an inspection can really save you time, money, and headaches in purchasing your new home.
Whether it’s new construction or a 25+ year home, there is always something to be gleaned from hiring a professional inspector. Ensure the inspector you hire is licensed in the state where you are purchasing your home. Each state has different code requirements for home construction, so hiring a local professional is your best bet. Ask the inspector you hire what they inspect—some inspect all of the appliances, for instance, while others say that is outside the scope of their expertise.
Over my 22-year career, I have had a handful of buyers ask if they can do their own inspection, or have their friend who is a licensed contractor perform the inspection. The OREF sales contract used to state, “The buyer may, at buyer’s expense, have the property inspected,” which could allow the buyer to hire someone other than a licensed inspector. The contract now stipulates “Licensed professional inspection.” This eliminates any question that buyers must hire a professional licensed inspector to perform the home inspection.
At a recent round-table meeting at my real estate office, we shared some experiences from our clients who opted to have an inspection, and were they glad they did. One agent shared that a crawl space, as dry as it appeared, showed a water line exposed in a rather unusual way. Further inspection revealed that the furnace ducting was full of water. Somehow the water line had leaked into all of the ducting, which could have been a disaster had it gone unnoticed.
In another home, an inspector went to examine the crawl space and discovered that there was no access. The seller had indicated that the foundation was a slab, yet there were floor-based heating vents throughout the home. Our buyer’s broker insisted on questioning it further, and it was discovered that the previous owner had remodeled and tiled over the access. They had to get the seller to agree to cut a new access hatch in the floor so the inspector could get underneath and confirm that there were no leaks or mold. Fortunately there were none, and no organic growth.
Inspectors are hired by the buyer to provide additional information that people do not normally see. They have tools to detect potential moisture behind drywall and can test electrical outlets for functionality. Many inspectors offer to reinspect the home after an owner has done noted repairs prior to the buyer closing on the sale. There is usually a fee for a reinspection. If you, as a buyer, want to have a reinspection done, be sure to allow enough time for your inspection contingency. Many inspectors are busy at this time of year and it is not unusual to have to extend the contingency period if issues arise.
Another option for a home inspection is for a seller to have one done prior to listing the property. This shows the next owner that the seller took extra steps to ensure that the home is in good condition prior to offering it for sale. When a seller takes this step, they are required to disclose the property inspection on the seller disclosure statement and likely will share a copy of the inspection report with the buyer during escrow. This does not preclude a buyer from having their own inspection done; it’s a show of good faith that the seller has treated their home to a vigorous once-over prior to listing.
What if you are just going to tear the house down and rebuild? It would seem as if an inspection could be a waste of money; however, if the home was built before the late 1970s, asbestos and lead-based paint inspections should be done to ensure the remodel is handled properly.
Have an amazing summer and enjoy our sunny skies!