How to Understand and Respond to a Home Inspection

blog post May 23, 2018

You schedule a routine checkup with your primary care physician, followed by blood work to rule out any problems and hopefully be graced with a clean bill of health. If there are any concerns, you and your doctor will address them. A home inspection is a health evaluation—so to speak—of the house or condo that you want to buy. Once you’ve found your dream home and negotiated a price, it’s time to schedule the inspection. It can be a nerve-wracking process, but it’s critical to learn what’s working and what needs fixing. Fortunately, you can lean on your REALTOR®  and attorney for guidance on how to proceed.

Home Inspection

You have a five-day window to complete the inspection after signing the contract for the purchase of the home. While you don’t have to be present at the inspection, it can be beneficial to hear the inspector’s feedback in real time, giving you a sense of the findings in the forthcoming home inspection report.

The home inspection evaluates the overall safety and functionality of the home and typically includes a review of site conditions, building interior and exterior, structural, electrical, plumbing, and cooling/heating systems.

Home Inspection Report
You will receive the home inspection report typically within 24 hours of the inspection appointment. The report can be overwhelming, as it usually contains 60-plus pages, but thanks to the American Society of Home Inspectors, reports are more manageable to read, highlighting the critical elements.

You’ll want to review the summary or primary recommendations section first to see items marked by the home inspector as “Major Concerns,” “Potential Safety Hazards,” and “Items not operating.” The good news is that you don’t have to wrap your brain around this beast of a document on your own. Your REALTOR®  and attorney have years of experience interpreting these reports and will advise you on next steps.

How to Respond
Any number of health and safety issues can be identified in the inspection report like electrical issues that present fire hazards, roof problems that can cause leaks, detection of mold or asbestos. In some cases, you may need to hire an expert to investigate the extent of any structural damage caused by a termite infestation, for example.

Work with your REALTOR®  and attorney to facilitate a responsible compromise with the seller. Your REALTOR®  can negotiate repairs, credits, or a reduction in price for the home provided by the seller. While these are all viable solutions, a cash-back credit at close of escrow can give you more control over repairs rather than relying on the seller’s schedule.

The home inspection can feel like an anxious process because it’s part of the emotional rollercoaster of moving. However, it’s important to remember that the purpose of the home inspection is to protect you, the buyer. Leverage the expertise of your REALTOR®  and attorney on how to understand and respond to the home inspection report, so that you can move in with peace-of-mind or find a better home.

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