While many homebuyers may hear that it’s all about “location, location, location,” there are other important factors to consider when selecting a house, not the least of which is the structural condition of the dwelling, and the heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems. For this reason, before you close on a home purchase, or at the time an offer is made, you should arrange for an independent home inspection. This article is a brief discussion of the ins and outs of home inspections.
Home Inspection: 101
First, any deal should be contingent on your acceptance of a final home inspection report. If the inspection reveals no defects, you’ve cleared the first hurdle buying a home. If the report is negative, however, you should have the seller pay for the repairs or reduce the offer. If not, you should reserve the right to cancel the deal entirely.
When selecting a home inspector, it is important to make sure he or she is duly licensed to conduct inspections in exchange for compensation. It is worth noting that registered architects and licensed professional engineers (PEs) are exempt from the licensing requirements, although a PE license must be for a business entity, not an individual.
As for the actual home inspection, it is generally a standardized procedure. A home inspector makes observations and prepares a written report of the systems and structural components of the premises, however, inspections for radon and pests are not included. In this regard, it is worthwhile to arrange for a separate termite inspection.
Although the buyer does not have to be present, the seller must prepare the house for the inspection and be available to answer any questions the inspector may have. Additionally, after a home inspection has been conducted, a real estate agent has an obligation to disclose all material affects affecting the value or desirability of a property. If a negative inspection causes a deal to fall apart, the broker is required to discuss potentially negative features of the property with prospective buyers, otherwise he or she could be held liable.
The Bottom Line
Buying a home can be an exciting experience, but also one that comes with many considerations. Ultimately a home inspection could make or break a deal. In any event, the best way for a homebuyer to protect his or her interests is to engage the services of an experienced real estate attorney.