Buying a home is both exciting and nerve-wracking. It is often cited as one of the most stressful life experiences, along with having a baby and getting married. Even if a buyer and his real estate agent find the perfect house for sale, there's uncertainty. So what's a homebuyer to do to seek a little peace of mind about this major decision? Hire a professional home inspector.
What Is A Home Inspector?
There used to be a time when buyers did not hire a third party inspector unless the house for sale was old or visibly in need of work. Buyers relied on their own review of the home and the information provided by the real estate agent.
Now inspections are quite common. Most real estate contracts allow buyers to have the home inspected. Even in the case of new home purchases, hiring an inspector is a good idea. An inspector is a trained professional who can identify any problems or potential issues with a house for sale that the buyer or even real estate agent would not be able to discern.
How To Find A Good Inspector
Finding the right inspector is harder than it may seem. There are many to choose from and what they check varies. Your real estate agent should be able to provide a few recommendations. After that, a buyer needs to do his or her research to make the right choice.
The American Society of Home Inspectors is a great resource for finding information about the state requirements for home inspectors. The organization can also refer buyers to local home inspectors who are members. ASHI, and most other professional organizations, provide members with training and certification programs. Be sure to ask about professional memberships and affiliations when interviewing an inspector.
Ask for references of past clients and call them. Make sure at least one of the referred clients have been living in their home for several months or more. Some issues will not show up until months after closing.
It is vital to understand what the inspector will and will not do. Some inspectors check the roof, some will not. What about the swimming pool? Do they check all appliances, or just heating and cooling systems? What about checking for lead and asbestos? Ask for a sample report or checklist. Does it provide standards for each item listed, or is it just a checklist?
Finally, ask about errors and omissions insurance. This insurance essentially covers the inspector if he misses a problem or issue. Not all inspectors carry such insurance and it does not necessarily mean that they're a bad inspector. However, if they do not carry insurance, it's a good idea to get a written explanation of the inspection company's policies when a mistake occurs.
Housing Inspection Costs
The average cost to inspect a house for sale is between $ 300 and $ 400 per inspection. However there can be additional costs. For example, testing for Chinese drywall can cost $ 200. Expect to pay about $ 100 for a radon exam. Asbestos tests can cost $ 50 or more. Make sure the inspector provides a full description of what's covered under the base price, and what tests and inspections are add-ons.
Ultimately, an inspection should save money and headaches. If any issues are found, a buyer should be able to work with his or her real estate agent to renegotiate the price of the house for sale. If the problems are too significant, the buyer may abandon the deal. Even if the inspector finds no issues, a few hundred dollars is worth the confidence that a good inspection can provide.