Buying or selling a home is a huge step and it’s natural to feel a little nervous about the process. From inspections and appraisals to offers and counteroffers, it might feel like there’s a lot you don’t know. Through our new “Ask the Expert” series, I’ll chat with industry experts to walk you through every step of the home buying and selling process, to educate and empower you to make the best decisions for you and your family.
For our first article, I sat down with Curtis Spain, owner of Buckeye Pro Home Inspections and one of my preferred home inspectors. We talked about why it’s important to have a home inspection, what is typically included in the home inspection and why it’s important to use your real estate agent as a resource to help you navigate this important part of the home buying process.
Having a home inspection prior to purchasing a home is a must these days. The caveat, ‘Buyer Beware’, is never more true than when purchasing the most expensive item you will ever buy, your home. You need a professional to go over your prospective home with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it is a sound investment. I wish I could say that there was a ‘one size fits all’ rule of thumb for negotiating a remedy, but, as every home is different, so is every home inspection. Typically, I recommend that my clients ask a seller to ‘remedy’ any safety issues (including mold and radon), plumbing and electrical issues and any items that are the result of deferred maintenance. Every buyer is different so a lot depends on how handy you are and what issues are important to you and your family.
If a home is not brand new, it will likely have some maintenance issues. That’s just part of home ownership. When you pay for a home inspection, you will receive a detailed report of any and all items that the inspector finds. The report is laid out by room and also by systems, exterior and interior. Often times the inspector will make note of items to keep an eye on for future problems, as well as any items that need immediate repair or just plain don’t work. They will test your mechanical systems, crawl up on your roof (weather permitting), check the HVAC, plumbing and electrical, check your basement for moisture and even make sure your appliances are running smoothly. If the buyer is present during the inspection, the inspector will often educate the buyer on the home’s mechanical systems or point out items of concern while walking around the home with the buyer. Then, they will make notes on EVERYTHING.
What’s in the report?
The report will be very thorough and it can be a bit overwhelming. You may not care that there’s a light bulb out in the upstairs bedroom closet, but you might be a bit more concerned about standing water in the northeast corner of the basement. It will all be on there!
A home inspection report on a typical home can run up to 30 or 40 pages or more. Each item of mention usually has a photo to document the problem, as well. Because the report is so detailed, it is important that you read it carefully and consult closely with your real estate agent. He or she will be able to help you determine which items are most crucial to include on your ‘Request to Remedy’ and whether or not you need to bring in an expert to further inspect a potentially more involved problem.
How do I choose an inspector?
As a real estate agent, I have a list of home inspectors that I regularly recommend. You should always ask your agent for a recommendation. There are certain inspectors that specialize in historic homes or new homes or homes in a certain area.
A good home inspector will be thorough without scaring the daylights out of you. A good agent will assist you with the report and help you choose the important items to ask the seller to repair. The ‘Request to Remedy’ is a negotiation. That said, this process does not have to be a nightmare. The buyer should choose the most important items to ask the seller to remedy and the seller should try to accommodate as best as they can. Usually, with some reasonable ‘give and take’ and with some guidance from experienced agents on both sides, both buyers and sellers can reach an amicable agreement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Curtis has answered a few common inspection questions below. Be sure to leave your own questions for him in the comments.
- What are the most common issues and/or least concerning issues that come up during a home inspection?
Typically, we come across neglected maintenance issues more than anything else. Whether it is a clogged dryer vent, overgrown bushes or a deteriorated caulking, these issues can be found on nearly every inspection report we publish. While most home maintenance issues can be easily rectified, if they are continually neglected they can lead to much more severe problems down the road. We frequently perform home inspections for people who just want a list of maintenance items that need addressed.
- Which items do you recommend using a professional for and which items could be repaired by handyman or handy homeowner?
At Buckeye Pro, safety is always our top concern. Anything that could result in injury should always be completed by a qualified professional. This includes any electrical work, roof repairs, etc. Beyond these safety issues, it really comes down to what the handyman or homeowner is comfortable with. Items such as repairing drywall, replacing a leaky faucet, or caulking around a bathtub can usually be safely remedied without the need for hiring a professional. When in doubt, call the professional.
- Do you always recommend a pest inspection and why or why not?
Since we are looking for evidence of pest infestation during our General Home Inspection, we will only recommend further testing/inspection if we deem it to be necessary following our inspection. While it doesn’t hurt to have a pest inspection done initially, it is typically not needed.
- Are there any items of concern that you would consider a ‘deal breaker’ when purchasing a home?
The short answer is “no.” It is important to remember that anything can be repaired or replaced; it ultimately just comes down to cost. Think of the worst-case scenario. Imagine that the foundation is crumbling, the roof is caving in, and someone stole all of the copper piping from the house. If the buyer is comfortable and has the budget to repair the foundation, replace the roof, and have new plumbing installed, then it’s not a deal-breaker. If they are not comfortable with having these things addressed or do not have it in the budget, then it is a deal-breaker for that potential homebuyer.
- If an item, say a roof or HVAC is considered at the end of its useful life, does that mean it needs replaced if it is still working properly? Also, what is the average ‘useful life’ for roofs, HVAC, water heater, etc?
Generally speaking, there is no reason to replace items such as furnaces or air conditioners if they are still functioning properly, unless the homeowner is looking for energy efficiency. For example, A/C condenser units have an expected lifespan of approximately seven years, however, it is common to see these units still going strong after 20+ years.Some things, like roof coverings, should be more proactively replaced. I would not recommend waiting until the roof has completely failed before addressing the issue. This would likely lead to other larger issues if it were not replaced prior to failure.Below is a list of expected lifespans for common items:-Air Conditioners: 5-10 years-Furnaces: 15-20 years-Heat Pumps: 15-20 years-Water Heaters: 7-10 years
-Asphalt Shingles: 20-30 years
-Windows: 20-30 years
-Sump Pumps: 5-10 years
- How much does an average home inspection cost?
Pricing can vary quite a bit, but the average cost is in the $300-500 range. Some companies charge more, some less. Like most other things in life, you get what you pay for.
Theresa is a real estate agent in Marysville, OH dedicated to helping you find your dream home. You can contact her at email@example.com.