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Handling Home Inspections During the Buying Process

July 23, 2013 - Updated: July 23, 2013

If you’re a first time home buyer, it’s likely that you’ve never experienced the home buying process and therefore have never witnessed a home inspection first hand. Home inspections are a part of the real estate process that can’t be avoided: they protect the buyer against defects in the home that can prove costly later, and your mortgage lender or insurance company may demand that one be conducted before they decide to lend you money or cover you and your new home. Not all home inspectors are created equal, so you should have at least an idea of what to expect during the home inspection process.

What to Expect During a Home Inspection

A professional home inspector will conduct an overall inspection of your home, including the interior, exterior and systems such as your plumbing, electrical and HVAC. Your home inspector will not move anything around, but they will likely climb up on the roof and use a ladder to closely inspect parts of the home they cannot reach. The home inspector will look for issues such as cracks in your foundation or a leaky roof and will check to see if there is adequate sloping and drainage in the soil around your home, if the windows open and close properly, if the doors are well-sealed, if the exterior paint is problem-free, if the home appliances such as the stove, refrigerator and dishwasher are working, if the plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems are working properly and much more. The home inspector will also inspect the basement and chimney. At the end of the home inspection process, the potential home buyer will be presented with a report on the home, which will detail any potential problems.

If the Home Inspector Finds a Problem

If the home inspector does find a problem, you may want to have a discussion with your real estate agent on what to do next. The home inspector finding a problem is not the end of the world, but you do have several options. First, you should follow these steps in case of a problem:

  • Determine if the potential cost of fixing the problem is worth it, using contractor bids for the specific job to figure out an estimated cost.
  • Have your real estate agent approach the sellers and ask them if they can either: complete the repairs themselves before you buy the home, OR reduce the asking price by the amount it will cost you to have the repairs done yourself.

Some repairs may be a non-issue, depending on the size of the needed repairs. If the home inspector finds a problem, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid the house. Most homes aren’t perfect; you just need to decide how you will handle a potential problem with the help of your real estate agent.

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