Houses in the area are still moving at a crisp clip, with contract signings in our region up more than 4 percent from this time last year.
Suppose you found a home and made it through the bidding process to sign a contract. Good for you! Hopefully, you didn’t waive your right to an inspection in your effort to get the house, though. It’s essential to have a home inspection on your checklist to protect you before you commit to buying.
A home inspection provides the critical information to help you decide if the house is worth the price you’ve offered. Once you’ve signed a contract, you should schedule an inspection to uncover any major problems before the sale proceeds to the funding stage.
Let’s take a closer look at inspections and what you can expect from the process.
What an Inspection Is and Is Not
A home inspection is simply a visual check of the house and its various systems to see that things are working and sound. They take anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the size of the house and how thorough the inspector is. You’ll get a written report later, often with pictures showing the inspected areas.
A home inspection checks for problems that might become major issues and safety hazards that you need to be aware of in the future. Problems could be a big thing like a cracked foundation or a small thing like a dead battery in a smoke detector.
It’s important to uncover these issues before purchase to have a good idea of what you’re getting into with that house. Then, you might be able to negotiate with the seller to have them repair the issues or reduce the price.
Also, if you have a contingency clause in your contract, you could walk away if the problem is more than you want to deal with or pay for.
Note that an inspection is not the same thing as a home appraisal. Those tell the bank what the fair market value is for the home to avoid lending more than the home value. Appraisals compare your potential new home to others in the neighborhood.
What’s On a Home Inspection Checklist
Nearly 86 percent of home inspections find something that falls short. Many of these are minor things. An inspection isn’t meant to find every flaw in the house. Instead, the inspector will look at the major systems, focusing on safety and big problems.
The general categories on the inspector’s home inspection checklist are:
- Heating and air conditioning
- Attic and insulation
- Walls, ceilings, floors
- Windows and doors
- Foundation, basement
- Structural components
The complete detailed list has some 1,600 different items on it, which should reassure you that the house is safe and sound.
Note that the homeowner should do what they can to make the inspection easy and thorough, but there’s always a chance your inspector will be unable to see certain portions of the home. For example, this might be an outbuilding that’s locked or an attic full of items.
What’s Not Included
Even with so many items to look at, an inspection has limitations. That’s because it’s non-invasive and solely visual. So, unfortunately, the inspector can’t tell you if that bathroom remodel you fell in love with used the right backing board behind the shower tile or if a pinhole leak is developing in a pipe.
The inspector also doesn’t check for mold, asbestos, radon, lead paint, or termites. Based on their experience, they might mention if they see something that makes them think there’s an issue. But you would need to arrange for an expert to come to do a further inspection.
Regulations for what the inspector does and does not have to check for vary from state to state. For example, in New York state, inspectors are not required to walk on the roof, evaluate water quality, or check the alarm system.
How To Choose an Inspector
Most home buyers get a referral from their agent when they start to look for a certified home inspector. You want to get someone who is bonded and insured and only does home inspections.
In New York, a licensed inspector goes through 140 hours of coursework or does at least 100 home inspections under the supervision of a licensed inspector. Only then can they take the licensing exam.
When you make the appointment, ask the inspector what they include in their reports and how long they usually take to do the inspection and get the report to you. It’s also good to ask what additional inspections they might recommend you go ahead and schedule based on their working knowledge of the area.
They might know homes in specific neighborhoods have a history of foundation trouble or asbestos.
Your home inspector may offer additional inspection services. Still, it’s more likely you will need to hire a professional in one of seven other areas to pinpoint structural, pest, or toxic substance issues.
Need Help With a Home Inspection?
A house is a huge purchase, so it makes sense to do everything you can to ensure you’re making a wise one. A professional home inspection goes a long way toward reassuring you that there’s nothing major wrong with the property or allowing you to get it fixed before you commit to purchase. While the real estate market is hot, it’s still wise to keep a home inspection on your buying step checklist.
Need help navigating the buying or selling process? Contact us to talk about your options in Nassau County.