Buying or selling a home is a major life decision, which is why it’s essential to conduct thorough checks, like a home inspection, before closing any deals.
A home inspection is a physical examination of a house, apartment, or any property – from the roof to the foundation, including all main systems. This is often carried out either toward the closing of a sale or before the property gets listed.
Who Pays for and Attends the Home Inspection?
Generally, buyers pay for the home inspections. However, when making an offer, some might negotiate that the seller covers this. Still, other homebuyers choose their own inspector, one who doesn’t have any connections to the seller or selling agent, to avoid any biases.
While it's not required, it's highly recommended that homebuyers attend the home inspection so they can also assess the property and ask questions throughout the process. If they’re unavailable, the buyer can decide who attends the inspection on their behalf.
Usually, home inspections take two to four hours to complete. However, it can vary depending on the size of the house, number of potential defects, thoroughness of the inspector, and preparedness of the property owner.
Why are Home Inspections Important?
Having an inspection can help identify a property’s safety and current condition. This gives homebuyers a better understanding of and confidence in their prospective purchase. Similarly, it gives homeowners the opportunity to identify issues and make repairs that will put their house in better selling condition.
Inspections are to done by home inspectors who are trained and licensed to assess properties. Based on state laws and requirements of professional associations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), they must prepare and deliver a written report to the client that includes their findings, pictures, analysis, and recommendations.
What Does a Home Inspection Cover?
Home inspectors have a comprehensive list of features that they’re required to check. While no property is perfect, it’s essential to know what inspectors will look for, so you can address the issues in advance and reduce the list of concerns in the report.
The standard report will cover the following:
- Attic and visible insulation
- Basement, foundation, and structural components
- Ceilings, floors, and walls
- Doors and windows
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system
- Interior plumbing and electrical systems
- Potential water damage
- Roofing conditions
- Signs of insect infestation
- Other structural issues and safety hazards
If certain areas are inaccessible, in hazardous conditions, or under maintenance and repair, the inspector should explain the situation in the report. Also, make sure to check ASHI’s Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics, which outline the details of a home inspection report.
How Should Homeowners Prepare for a Home Inspection?
As a seller, it’s best to thoroughly assess the key areas that will be checked before the inspection date. Likewise, you must provide the inspector with easy access to everything that’s on the list. Here are some tips for how you can prepare:
- Box unnecessary house items, especially the small ones, to provide space for the inspector to move around.
- Clean or replace filters in your cooling and heating systems.
- Do a thorough walk-through of your property. Look for potential defects, especially small ones that you might have not noticed early on.
- Double check (and replace if needed) light bulbs, faucets, and knobs in the house.
- If you don’t reside there, make sure the electricity and water switches for all utilities have been reconnected.
- Leave all keys (e.g. for doors, the basement, electrical panels) where the inspector can find them. Be sure to also label them accordingly.
- Organize your attic, basement, and other storage areas and keep them uncluttered. Make sure the stairs and pathways are left unobstructed.
- Repair broken windows and screens, as well as damaged doorknobs and handles of appliances.
- Schedule a professional exterminator to treat your house if you have bugs.
- Tidy your lawn and clean up key areas of your yard. Be sure to double check the piping, drainage access points, and even the septic tank.
- Trim low-hanging tree branches that might damage the roof or gutters.
- Turn on all lights – even for fireplaces and furnaces –so the inspector can assess the heating and lighting of appliances.
- Keep kids and pets out of the property throughout the duration of the inspection.
- If needed, present receipts of any maintenance services or repair work that you’ve done.
Essentially, keeping your property in top shape, as much as possible, will help improve your inspection report and make the closing process faster and easier.
What Happens After the Home Inspection?
As mentioned, no property is perfect. So, it’s normal for the home inspection to reveal issues about your property. And the inspector should explain the severity of each.
In some cases, the findings might be so minor that the homebuyer won’t object to them. However, if there are major problems, they might want to renegotiate that you handle the fixes before they purchase the property or to cover the repair costs. Also, careful buyers may require specialized inspections, especially concerning the presence of asbestos, lead piping, mold, or termites. Generally, it’s best to closely communicate with the inspector and real estate agent on your best steps forward.
One important point to keep in mind is that home inspections are completely different from home appraisals. Appraisals occur to determine the value of the property. Inspections, on the other hand, provide clients with a deeper understanding of their prospective home, so they can make sound decisions. Likewise, inspectors will not make recommendations relating to the purchase of the property; but they will help clients understand the total cost of ownership.
We understand that it’s a lot to take in. And home inspections can be quite overwhelming. That’s why you should put your trust and confidence in experienced real estate agents who can help you handle the nitty-gritty of inspections. Here at The Brendan King Group, we’re not your ordinary real estate agents – we’re Vegas experts who can guide you along the way. Contact us today to learn more.