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The Home Inspection

Understanding Home Inspections

When your home goes under contract, one of the first things a Buyer is responsible for is conducting a home inspection. The Buyer doesn’t have to, but it would be foolish not to. It’s up to the Buyer who he or she wants to inspect your home, but in most cases it will be a certified home inspector. In addition, a Buyer can use the inspection period to bring in a termite inspector, or a cistern inspector. During the inspection period, the Seller must make the home available, given proper notice, to the Buyer’s inspectors. There is a deadline on the inspection period, after which, the Buyer must move forward with the sale. But, if issues arise during the inspection period of enough concern to the Buyer, the Buyer has two choices:

  1. The Buyer can opt out of the sale and get all escrow money returned
  2. The Buyer can propose to the Seller a lower sales price – or other concessions – to account for issues raised in the inspection.

If the Seller declines to adjust the sale price or accept the proposed concessions, then the deal collapses, and the Buyer’s escrow money is returned.

And by the way – this home inspection period is also the Buyer’s opportunity to experience “Buyer’s remorse.” Should the Buyer get cold feet, he or she can pull out of the deal, as long as they provide proper and timely notification to the Seller during the inspection period.

Who Does the Inspection?

It’s up to the Buyer to order and pay for an inspection. The inspection could be done by the Buyer’s friend, mother, father, or anyone the Buyer chooses. But usually it’s a certified home inspector, who will come out and test every appliance, turn on the ACs, flush the toilets, open the faucets, get up on the roof, and basically inspect any and all systems, examining every nook and cranny. A multi-page document, replete with photos, will then get sent to the Buyer to help the Buyer ascertain whether the home is in the condition the Buyer anticipated, or at least close to it, and is worth the price the Buyer is paying.

Sellers can certainly hire a home inspector ahead of marketing their home, so the Seller is not presented with any surprise issues, and if there is a surprise, sort it out before selling. Having a clean inspection report from a respected home inspector sitting on the kitchen counter during showings is an excellent way to encourage offers from prospective Buyers. The cost is in the range of $1,000 give or take. But it’s money well spent.

What Happens When You Get a Bad Inspection Report?

First of all, don’t panic. Remember, the inspector’s job is to find EVERY possible thing of concern in your home. They’re the Buyer’s advocate and they look for everything.

If, for example, the home inspector declares your central AC system to be malfunctioning, and the Buyers are now weak-kneed at the prospect of inheriting this expense, get a second opinion. Hire an AC contractor the Buyer agrees to, and assess the problem with a specialist.

Inspectors are not perfect. They can get it wrong sometimes. The best approach to take to the entire home inspection process is to be flexible, willing to compromise, and get a second or even a third opinion if necessary.