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Which sounds better: moving into a home that you know is sound and you are aware of any repairs needed, or moving into a home and discovering that the ceiling leaks and the electric systems are unreliable?

Being aware of any problems that need to be fixed or have been fixed, of course.

Buying your own home is one of the biggest purchases and investments you will make in your life. As such, it is critical that you know the state of the home and what you are buying. Getting a property inspected before you purchase it will save you a lot of time and money, as it will pinpoint any problems the home may have and repairs needed. It will also give you peace of mind that you are making a good, reliable purchase.

Hire A Licensed Inspector

The first step you should take as part of the home inspection process is the hiring of a professional, licensed inspector. A reputable inspector will have experience, be insured, and be licensed by their state and a professional inspection association, so do your research.

A good inspection usually costs around $300-500 dollars, so it is important that you avoid shopping around for an inspector based purely on price. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you can, get an inspector that is highly recommended by a trusted source like friends or family. Websites like Angie’s List is also a good resource for researching inspectors.

Ask For A Sample Report

Ask for a sample report to familiarize yourself with what it will look like and that it will meet your mortgage lender’s inspection requirements. Your lender will care about the condition of the house since it can affect the appraised value of the property, which can affect your loan amount. For example, if you take out a loan for more than what the property is worth, you risk going underwater.

Remember, a home inspection is not a home appraisal. It merely identifies issues in the home and helps home buyers determine what home loan will work best for them.

Determine Who Pays For The Inspector

When it comes to who pays for the inspection, it is generally the home buyer who will hire the home inspector, as they often feel more comfortable hiring someone they trust. Of course, home sellers can always do a pre-sale inspection so they can address any potential problems before the property is put on the market and avoid legal claims. If a home has had a pre-sale inspection, it can build confidence in the buyer that the property is in good condition.

What You Should Expect From The Inspection

When an inspector comes onto the property, they will typically inspect the following features:

  • Electrical and appliance systems
  • Roof
  • Foundation
  • Basement
  • Chimney, doors, and windows,
  • Plumbing
  • Exterior and interior walls

The inspection is also limited to what is visible, though that may change from inspector to inspector, so be sure to ask your inspector about their process.

If the property gets poor inspection results, don’t panic. You can always work out the details with the seller to determine who will pay to fix any problems – sometimes the seller will pay for some or all of the repairs, or the buyer will have to pay for them. Sellers have no obligation to make these repairs except in cases of state or local law, or what has been set out in your real estate contract.

Get Involved

Since inspections take 3-5 hours to complete, it may be tempting to let the inspector do their job and you can hear the results later. But it is highly recommended that you be present for the inspection so you can ask questions, discuss your expectations and their findings. Being present will also help ensure that they do a more detailed inspection rather than taking a quick look.

Be sure to ask the seller for a list of recent repairs and system replacements so you know what work has been done on the home. It may feel like you’re being too nosy or demanding but don’t worry. You’re ensuring that you are making a good purchase that you will love.

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