Purchasing a home can be a very smart financial move, but you must be savvy to ensure it’s a sound investment. One factor that will help you decide is the outcome of the home inspection. While the inspection process may not be top of mind, it’s actually a critical step in your journey to homeownership. Below, we’ll discuss the top questions you should always ask your home inspector.
Understanding the Inspection
It can be pretty easy to float through the home buying process, guided by your real estate agent and lender. However, it’s important to ask questions and really understand the process for yourself, because at the end of the day, your name is on the loan and title. With that said, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re not only present at the home inspection, but also following the inspector around and asking questions during the process.
First Things First – Are You Qualified?
You wouldn’t see a healthcare professional without confirming their credentials and license, would you? The same should apply for a home inspector. Ask to see his or her license up front, before the inspection begins. If they don’t have it available, it’s probably in your best interest to run in the other direction and find a new inspector.
It’s also worthwhile to ask your inspector about their work experience and education.
Most states require home inspectors to receive a certain number of continuing education hours annually, and their response can tell you a lot about the type of professional he or she is.
What Does This Inspection Cover?
You’ll want to understand what is covered or not covered during the home inspection to avoid any surprises. If there is anything specific you want the inspector to look for, mentioning it up front means it’s more likely he or she can address it during the inspection. This home inspection checklist highlights things that inspectors commonly look for.
How Much Will It Cost to Fix This?
In many cases, your home inspector will find things that need repair – even if it’s just replacing a light bulb. Sometimes, he or she will find things that are more significant – and it’s a good idea to ask how much it will cost to fix these items. Being prepared is key, so having an accurate estimate of the repair costs will help you determine how to proceed with one of the following options:
- Ask the seller to repair all or some of the issues – Whether or not the seller will actually do this depends on how quickly they want to sell their home, as well as the current market conditions.
- Ask the seller to lower the home price or provide a credit for repairs – Sometimes, a seller will be more willing to negotiate on price rather than make the repairs themselves, since that will save them time.
- Buy the home as-is and pay for out-of-pocket repairs – This is not the ideal option for you as a buyer, but it works if you really want to purchase the home and are willing to shell out your own cash for improvements.
Asking your home inspector how much the repairs will cost can guide your decision-making and determine if this home is the best option or if you should continue your home search elsewhere.
What Could I Fix on My Own?
Sometimes, there are home repairs that you can make without hiring a contractor – which could save you quite a bit of cash. A good way to ask this question is by saying “Who should I have fix that?” A good home inspector will be honest and let you know if it’s something easy can be fixed after a quick trip to your local home improvement store. If the problem is one that should be fixed by a pro, your inspector may be able to give you referrals that you can contact for a price estimate while you’re in the contingency period.
Can You Explain How to Use This?
Every home is different, so the systems in your old home may operate quite differently than the home you’re purchasing. While your home inspector is checking each item, ask him or her to explain how it works if you’re uncertain. Most inspectors will gladly walk you through the steps!
Understanding how to operate the systems in your home is key to ensuring they are properly used once you move in, which can lead to a longer lifespan.
Do You Have Advice for Caring for This?
Along the lines of extending the life of your home systems, it can be very beneficial to ask the inspector for advice on properly taking care of the interior, exterior and mechanical systems within your home. He or she can also advise you on the lifespan of the systems and appliances in the home, so there will be no surprises when it’s time for a new HVAC system or refrigerator.
Asking these questions up front may provide you with information you can use as a negotiating tool with the seller to lower the home price and recoup the costs involved with needed repairs. To learn more about the home buying process, visit the Atlantic Bay blog.