All You Need To Know - Home Inspections
Whether you are buying or selling a home, it is very likely that a home inspection will be performed on the subject property prior to it closing. No matter which party in the transaction you are, home inspections always seems to be the most nerve-racking part of a Real Estate transaction. Here is a fun Q&A that answers all aspects about home inspections.
WHY DOES A HOME INSPECTION HAPPEN?
I always tell my clients “You’ll learn more about a property during the home inspection than you will for the next 20yrs of living there.” And quite honestly, it’s been true in many cases. Home inspections are a vital (but not mandatory) step in the buying process. It allows the buyer to take a more in depth look at the property they are under contract to purchase by hiring a qualified and licensed home inspector.
WHEN DOES A HOME INSPECTION TAKE PLACE?
A home inspection is scheduled and takes place within the first few days or couple of weeks upon an executed purchase and sale contract between a buyer and seller. A purchase and sale contract will have a specified inspection period outlined that set the numbers of days both parties must oblige to. (ie. If the purchase and sale contract specifies 10 days for an inspection period, the buyer has 10 days to do any inspections allowed by the contract and report to the seller if anything is not satisfactory.
WHAT HAPPENS TO HOME INSPECTIONS IN A BUYER’S MARKET?
In a Buyer’s market, the Buyer has the upper hand because more homes are on the market and the Sellers are finding it more difficult to sell at a price they are happy with. This allows the Buyer to leverage their requests more and usually will find Sellers more willing to cooperate when negotiating.
WHAT HAPPENS TO HOME INSPECTIONS IN A SELLER’S MARKET?
In a Seller’s market, the Seller has the upper hand because less homes are on the market and the Buyers are finding it more difficult to buy and get a home under contract. This allows the Seller to leverage their side more and usually allows them to avoid doing many or any requests that should come from a Buyer.
HOW LONG DO HOME INSPECTIONS LAST?
The length of time a home inspection takes depends on many factors - size of home, complexity of inspection, even the inspector himself. In general it takes 2-4hrs on average for a median size home to be inspected from head to toe.
WHAT DO HOME INSPECTIONS INSPECT?
An easier question would be “What doesn’t a home inspection inspect?” During an inspection, just about everything you can imagine is thoroughly looked over. The mechanicals such as the furnace or hot water heater, the roof, the home’s structure, electrical, plumbing, septic and well systems, termites, radon, the list goes on! As long as all parties in a transaction agree, you can theoretically inspect anything you wish on/in the property.
HOW MUCH DO HOME INSPECTIONS COST?
There is no flat fee for a home inspection and it may vary depending on the region, size of home and other factors. In Connecticut, I usually see baseline home
inspection cost in the ballpark of $400-600 on a median sized home. Condo’s are usually cheaper due to it being a smaller space on average and less to inspect. In addition to the baseline home inspection rate, many inspectors will offer add-on's such as testing for radon, taking water samples, inspecting for termites and more that could increase the total cost of the inspection.
WHO NORMALLY PAYS FOR THE HOME INSPECTION?
Just about unanimously, the buyer pays for the home inspection. Let’s not forget, it is their inspection for their home purchase. HOWEVER, there some parts of the inspection where the home owner could get involved financially. Specifically, the systems. A septic system is a type of sewage system for properties that are not tapped into the municipal sewage system. That means an individual tank will sit underground on the subject property to collect waste. You most definitely want to have this system inspected due to the potential cost of fixing or replacing, should it be necessary. Most often, it is expected for the Seller/homeowner to pay for the pump-out (it is their waste don’t forget) before the buyer does their inspection of the system. This specific inspection requires a professional septic/waste management company to inspect the system.
AS A SELLER, SHOULD I GET A HOME INSPECTION PRIOR TO LISTING MY PROPERTY FOR SALE?
This is a great question! As the seller/homeowner, you are not required to do any inspections of your home prior to or after listing your home for sale. So why would a Seller pay for their own inspection prior to selling their property? I can think of two common reasons. The first reason would be due to the type of Real Estate market we are in. If we are in a Buyer’s market, many Sellers may find it difficult to sell due to Buyers having ample options of properties for sale. A seller may hold and share inspections results for their property in order to attract and entice Buyers who may see more transparency over other properties that still need to be expected. It’s important to note that a Buyer may still pay for their own inspection despite a seller having already provided a report. The second reason a Seller may pay for an
inspection prior to selling their home is for peace of mind. Whether you’ve lived in your home for decades or you just want to be on top of any issues that may arise, this is a good way to get ahead of the curve, especially if you play to sell your home “As-Is”.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO COME FROM THE HOME INSPECTION?
It completely depends on the property. It’s nearly impossible for a home not to have single issue, no matter the age , size or condition. It’s common to see smaller issues pop up such as electrical outlets needing upgrades (ie. GFCI protection), older plumbing needing upgrades, or aging capital expenditures like the roof or furnace. It’s important to understand items that need routine maintenance/replacement versus issues that should not be happening or are causing structural issues that could become major fixes.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE HOME INSPECTION?
There are three outcomes after a home inspection takes place. The first option is when the Buyer is satisfied with the inspection and wants to continue moving forward with their purchase without any questions or requests to the Seller. The second option is when the Buyer decides to request or negotiate issues/concerns with the Seller in hopes of coming to agreement that can allow both parties to move forward. The third option is for the Buyer to back out of their purchase after discovering there are too many problems with the property for them to take on.
Do you have further questions about home inspections? I would be happy to answer anything I did not cover. I also have worked with some brilliant home inspectors who can dive deeper into the detailed process of their work.