When you see that dream home with the unbeatable price tag, you may already be more than sold on investing your life’s earnings on it.
But don’t rush into it.
At least not until you can have an objective pair of eyes scan the property so your dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Buyers’ home inspections ensure that a professional inspector has offered you an objective visual survey of your new home from the roof to the foundation.
Getting a home inspection also means having that peace of mind that you won’t have to fork out thousands of dollars on repairs after you move in. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), home inspections offer buyers an unbiased evaluation of the physical condition of the home, such as the property’s structure, construction and mechanical systems. They also identify items that need to be repaired or replaced and estimate the remaining life of major systems, equipment, structure and finishes.
“It is really important for buyers to be informed about the condition of the property and any potential unforeseen concerns,” said Peter Muehlbronner, president and owner of Allstate Home Inspections in Philadelphia. The inspection is not an appraisal or geared toward cosmetic issues, but structural and mechanical concerns.
Last year, nearly three in four American homeowners said that having their new home inspected helped them avoid potential problems, according to a poll by the American Society of Home Inspections. Among those surveyed, 64 percent said they saved a lot of money in the long run because of the inspections.
House Inspection Checklist:
- Before hiring a professional, examine the property yourself for any visible potential disasters such as drainage issues, leaky roofs or signs of water entry into the foundation or basement, Muehlbronner said.
- Check the age of appliances, the heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems and the water heater.
- Examine the age and condition of the electrical system, and check for water pressure and drainage speed.
- Ensure that the seller’s disclosure is complete and accurate.
- Hire a professional, Muehlbronner said. Otherwise, you may not have any standing in your requests for repairs.
How to Choose a Home Inspector
- Hire an inspector who’s affiliated with the American Society of Home Inspectors.
- Consult family, friends, co-workers, real estate agents and neighbors for their recommendations on an inspector they trust.
- Interview a few inspectors before deciding to hire someone. Check their credentials and offer them information on the property.
- Ask the inspector about his or her professional history. Ask, as well, for the names and phone numbers of former clients. Inquire if the inspector specializes in residential real estate. Background in construction and engineering is a bonus, but doesn’t replace experience in home inspections.
- Ask for samples of other reports he or she has compiled.
- Choose an inspector who’s committed to continued education, training and certification in his or her area of expertise. This is important if you are buying a historic home or a much older house.
- Ask for a firm price upfront. You should not be charged additional fees on site.
- Plan to attend the home inspection. It typically lasts anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours, Muehlbronner said.
Cost of Home Inspection
Depending on the geographical location, age and size of the home, buyers’ home inspections can cost you anywhere from $300 to $500. The cost doesn’t necessarily reflect quality, according to HUD. The agency doesn’t regulate home inspection fees, so don’t be surprised if the quoted fees vary dramatically for different inspectors you interview.