Note from Nancy: Keep in mind a good real estate agent will help buyers to “pick their battles” with the sellers – as they have the experience to know the best ways to negotiate the sale.
The problem is — no perfect home exists. Air conditioners break, plumbing pipes leak, and roof tiles blow off in the wind.
If you’re buying a home, start with a reasonable expectation of what home inspectors can do. Their job is to inform you about the integrity and condition of what you’re buying, good and bad.
An inspector doesn’t test for pests or sample the septic tank. For those, you need industry-specific inspectors.
Here’s what else you need to do.
1. Make sure the inspector you hire is licensed. The responsibilities of home inspectors vary according to state law and their areas of expertise.
2. Ask what the inspection covers. Some inspection companies have extensive divisions that can provide environmental for radon and lead paint. Be prepared to hire and schedule several inspectors according to your lender’s requirements and to pay several hundred dollars for each type of inspection.
3. Some inspection reports only cover the main house, not other buildings on the property. For specialty inspections such as termites, make sure the inspection covers all buildings on the property including guest houses, detached garages, storage buildings, etc.
4. Attend the inspection and follow along with the inspectors. Seeing problems for yourself will help you understand what’s serious, what needs replacement now or later, and what’s not important.
5. Don’t expect the seller to repair or replace every negative found on the report. If you’re getting a VA or FHA-guaranteed loan, some items aren’t negotiable. The seller must address them, but otherwise, pick your battles with the seller carefully.
A home inspection points out problems, they also point out what’s working well. It can help you make your final decision about the home – to ask the seller to make repairs or to offer a little less, to buy as is or not to buy at all.