As a first-time home buyer, you might be wondering if a home inspection is really necessary, it’s an additional cost and in competitive market conditions may not even be advisable. Since there is no steadfast rule you should look to your professional realtor for advice on this.
Ultimately, when possible, it’s always ideal to have a home inspection done – at the very least it will give you insight as to ages of important items (furnace, roof, ac etc) or questions to ask prior to firming up the deal. In a hot market, sometimes it’s challenging to get a home inspection. If that’s the case when you happen to be purchasing, then go in with eyes open, understanding there may be a “learning curve” or some surprise items once you move in.
Hire a professional
Home inspectors are often referred to clients by realtors, but it’s important to also do additional reference research. Read reviews, ask for referrals from friends and family who have had fantastic experiences and follow your gut. If a service feels off, or even too good to be true, it usually is. And beware of well meaning friends or family who want to help. Sure, bring them along if you like, but it’s never a good idea to have them take the place of a professional, licensed home inspector. “Uncle Bob” may have great intentions, but he won’t necessarily know the area and have seen enough homes to be able to compare to what’s out there. Finally- if the clauses are time sensitive, ask them how long it will take for them to get you a final written report that you can review with your realtor. If it’s arriving three days later and you had a clause allowing 5 days, you may be cutting it tight for time!
Take your time…and theirs.
You’re paying a home inspection for a service and for their time, so ask questions and make sure you really understand the answers clearly. Check maintenance stickers, especially on A/C units and thermostats and if you’re unsure of how something works, ask. Take your time and take notes as you walk through the property.
Think “big picture.”
It’s important to remember that your inspector will be focused on the details of the home, but make sure you do your “big picture” background checks too. Looking at the grounds and the property boundaries is also really important during your inspection so keep an open mind and think big when backing your offer. Also, remember, no home, old or new is perfect. There is always a list of items that are not in perfect repair. The trick is making sure the items aren’t imminent or overly costly. If you have major items of concern that come up, ask more questions from both your inspector and your realtor to help you consider next steps.
Surface level inspections.
Home inspectors are not allowed to cause any change or damage to the home, so their recommendations are based on what they can see. If only we could see behind the walls! While that’s not possible, they do use some great tools to help assess potential risk factors or previous issues of concern, but there can still be surprises after moving date. Keep this in mind when it comes to your inspection results and make sure to ask additional questions when needed.
If your property inspection list ends up longer than you expected, you’ll likely walk away feeling overwhelmed and unsure if holding your offer is the best option or not. Ask your inspector what their top priorities would be from the results and together with your agent, make your final property decisions.