Are they a good idea?
We often get asked about home inspections and whether we recommend them. First, a home inspection is different than an appraisal, which we’ve covered before, in that lenders won’t require an inspection but might require an appraisal. An inspection helps uncover conditions as they relate to the structure, systems, appliances, and other elements of the building you’re hoping to buy, as opposed to assessing “value” of a property. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a not-for-profit professional society, is set to release their latest revision of the new Standard of Practice for Home Inspectors in March 2014 which lays out what they should look for.
We definitely recommend considering paying for this valuable service – it offers quite a bit of peace of mind and can also give you a roadmap of areas of your new home that might new attention. The cost is usually relative to the size or complexity of the property, so make sure you get quotes from a few sources before selecting your inspector to compare prices.
Often, our clients will include obtaining a satisfactory inspection as a subject in the purchase agreement, which protects them in case something unexpected comes up and gives them the opportunity to withdrawal their offer.
First, find an inspector. A referral from a friend is a great place to start, or you can check out these tips by Service Alberta for how to find one and what to ask when interviewing potential inspectors. A quick look through the listings on the Better Business Bureau’s website shows dozens of BBB accredited home inspectors able to help you decide when in the process of buying a new home.
Once you’ve found an inspector you’d like to use, your real estate agent can make the arrangements for the inspectors to have access to the home obstruction free (meaning, for example, no big boxes in front of the furnace) and for a set period of time. The inspector will often meet the agents for the buyer and the buyer at the property and goes through the property in a systematic way, conducting tests and making observations.
What you’ll get back – usually within a day or two – is a room-by-room accounting of the property and its conditions. You might uncover minor things, such as “tile in laundry room cracked” or “panel missing from fence”, which might be a place you can negotiate to have them remediated before the sale completes. Or, you may uncover a deal breaker, such as a major deficiency in the roof or foundation that might make you rethink your whole offer.
When you get your report, go through it with the inspector and your agent. Be honest with yourself about what’s a big deal and what’s not. Unless you’re buying a brand new property, there is likely to be some deficiencies noted, and only you know what your tolerance is for having them fixed.