What to Expect During Inspections?

From finding an inspector to dealing with surprises — this is your guide to getting a house checked out.

The first thing you need to know about home inspection: You’ll feel all the feels.

There’s the excitement — the inspection could be the longest time you’re in the house, after the showing.

Right behind that comes … anxiety. What if the inspector finds something wrong? So wrong you can’t buy the house?

Then there’s impatience. Seriously, is this whole home-buying process over yet?

Not yet. But you’re close. So take a deep breath. Because the most important thing to know about home inspection: It’s just too good for you, as a buyer, to skip. Here’s why.

A Home Inspector Is Your Protector

An inspector helps you make sure a house isn’t hiding anything before you commit for the long haul. (Think about it this way: You wouldn’t even get coffee with a stranger without checking out their history.)

A home inspector identifies any reasonably discoverable problems with the house (a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, etc.). Hiring an inspector is you doing your due diligence. To find a good one (more on how to do that soon), it helps to have an understanding of what the typical home inspection entails.

stainless-steel-refrigerator-beside-white-kitchen-cabinet-2343467
Your dream kitchen might end up being a nightmare.

An inspection is all about lists.  

Before an inspection, the home inspector will review the seller’s property disclosure statement. (Each state has its own requirements for what sellers must disclose on these forms; some have stronger requirements than others.) The statement lists any flaws the seller is aware of that could negatively affect the home’s value.

The disclosure comes in the form of an outline, covering such things as:

  • Mold
  • Pest infestation
  • Roof leaks
  • Foundation damage
  • Other problems, depending on what your state mandates.

During the inspection, an inspector has three tasks — to:

  1. Identify problems with the house that he or she can see
  2. Suggest fixes
  3. Prepare a written report, usually with photos, noting observed defects

This report is critical to you and your agent — it’s what you’ll use to request repairs from the seller. (We’ll get into how you’ll do that in a minute, too.)

The Inspector Won’t Check Everything

Generally, inspectors only examine houses for problems that can be seen with the naked eye. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision, to find hidden faults.

Inspectors also won’t put themselves in danger. If a roof is too high or steep, for example, they won’t climb up to check for missing or damaged shingles. They’ll use binoculars to examine it instead.

They can’t predict the future, either. While an inspector can give you a rough idea of how many more years that roof will hold up, he or she can’t tell you exactly when it will need to be replaced.

Finally, home inspectors are often generalists. A basic inspection doesn’t routinely include a thorough evaluation of:

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Septic systems
  • Structural engineering work
  • The ground beneath a home
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

When it comes to wood-burning fireplaces, for instance, most inspectors will open and close dampers to make sure they’re working, check chimneys for obstructions like birds’ nests, and note if they believe there’s reason to pursue a more thorough safety inspection.

If you’re concerned about the safety of a fireplace, you can hire a certified chimney inspector for about $125 to $325 per chimney; find one through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

chairs-inside-living-room-2343466
What is lurking in that fireplace?

It’s Your Job to Check the Inspector

Now you’re ready to connect with someone who’s a pro at doing all of the above. Here’s where — once again — your real estate agent has your back. He or she can recommend reputable home inspectors to you.

In addition to getting recommendations (friends and relatives are handy for those, too), you can rely on online resources such as the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) Find a Home Inspector tool, which lets you search by address, metro area, or neighborhood.

You’ll want to interview at least three inspectors before deciding whom to hire. During each chat, ask questions such as:

  • Are you licensed or certified? Inspector certifications vary, based on where you live. Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed, and licenses can indicate different degrees of expertise. ASHI lists each state’s requirements here.
  • How long have you been in the business? Look for someone with at least five years of experience — it indicates more homes inspected.
  • How much do you charge? The average home inspection costs about $315. For condos and homes under 1,000 square feet, the average cost is $200. Homes over 2,000 square feet can run $400 or more. (Figures are according to HomeAdvisor.com.)
  • What do you check, exactly? Know what you’re getting for your money.
  • What don’t you check, specifically? Some home inspectors are more thorough than others.
  • How soon after the inspection will I receive my report? Home inspection contingencies require you to complete the inspection within a certain period of time after the offer is accepted — normally five to seven days — so you’re on a set timetable. A good home inspector will provide you with the report within 24 hours after the inspection.
  • May I see a sample report? This will help you gauge how detailed the inspector is and how he or she explains problems.

Sometimes you can find online reviews of inspectors on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, too, if past clients’ feedback is helpful in making your decision.

Show Up for Inspection (and Bring Your Agent)

It’s inspection day, and the honor of your — and your agent’s — presence is not required, but highly recommended. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings later on, being there gives you a chance to ask questions, and to learn the inner workings of the home.

Block out two to three hours for the inspection. The inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes checking water pressure; leaks in the attic, plumbing, etc.; if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue); if electrical wiring is up to code; if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working; if appliances work properly. Outside, he or she will look at things like siding, fencing, and drainage.

The inspector might also be able to check for termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon. Because these tests involve more legwork and can require special certification, they come at an additional charge.

Get Ready to Negotiate

Once you receive the inspector’s report, review it with your agent.

Legally, sellers are required to make certain repairs. These can vary depending on location. Most sales contracts require the seller to fix:

  • Structural defects
  • Building code violations
  • Safety issues

Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switchplate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and-diming the seller.

If there are major issues with the house, your agent can submit a formal request for repairs that includes a copy of the inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance: Instead of saying “repair broken windows,” a request should say “replace broken window glass in master bathroom.”

  • If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests: He or she must provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
  • If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer: He or she will state which repairs (or credits at closing) he or she is willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer, or void the transaction.

At the end of the day, remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to move into the close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.

The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.

That’s something to feel good about.

Article by HouseLogic

Trusted Home Inspectors:

Diamond Property Inspections

Legacy Home Inspections

September Tips for Home Owners

Landscaping Tips That Can Help Your Home Sell

For some properties, landscaping can make or break a deal. Unless you’re selling a real fixer-upper, your home’s yard is an important part of the real estate equation. If you’re looking to put your home on the market, or you’ve already listed and you haven’t had a lot of interest, use these quick and easy landscaping tips to help your property stand out from all the others.

IMG_1613

 

COORDINATE WITH COLOR

If your home has a yard, don’t be afraid of adding accents with pops of color. Many buyers prefer a nice green lawn; if you don’t have a sprinkler system, your local home improvement store will have easy-to-use and affordable sprinkler units you can hook up to a garden hose to help revive any dying grass (unless you live in an area where summer water usage is limited). You can also add color with flower pots: plastic or terra cotta pots filled with annuals are an easy, cheap and quick way to spruce up a drab entryway, driveway or front porch. You don’t have to go overboard, one or two pots can do wonders.

PRESSURE WASH

Sometimes a landscape or outdoor area doesn’t need a complete overhaul to look brand new. When it comes to decks, fences, driveways, and any other outdoor surface that can accumulate dirt and grime, an easy way to freshen things up is with a good pressure wash. Pressure washing is cleaning a surface with a powerful stream of high-pressure water, much stronger than a typical garden hose. The water is strong enough to get rid of months and even years’ worth of dirt and debris on wood, masonry, brick and concrete.

You don’t have to go out and buy a pressure washer – many home improvement stores rent them out, and for the cost of the rental and a couple hours of your time, your home could look like new! It’s important to note that you will want to test the pressure on the washer prior to spraying your home since very high pressure can remove worn paint. Sometimes all a home or a patio needs is a good wash and it looks just like new!

 

 

IMG_3782

LEAD THE WAY WITH LIGHT

While it’s highly unlikely you’ll have many people come and view your home at night, a great and easy way to add to your current landscape is with lights! Whether it’s adding a new outdoor lamp, or putting in walkway or path lights (solar ones are readily available and environmentally friendly!), buyers love to see little details put into homes. Pathway lights are often overlooked by homeowners, but a home with outdoor lighting will always speak volumes to potential buyers. Spotlights are also a great and easy addition – LEDs can highlight specific areas, and complete units can be found for under $30.

DITCH THE DEAD PLANTS

A nice manicured yard always rates highly among buyers. But if half of your yard is dead, despite being landscaped, it’s a good idea to ditch the dead plants. Take a couple of minutes each day to check out your yard – grass, flower beds, pots, etc. – and pull out anything that’s dying or dead. While it’s definitely a plus to have flowers and shrubs, if they’re dead, you’re better off getting rid of them than keeping them around because dead plants do not add to a landscape.

MAKEOVER YOUR MULCH

Flower beds are a great focal point for any yard, especially when they’re a real show stopper. But if your beds look weathered or rough, they can be a definite turn off to potential buyers. An easy, affordable and sure fire way to spruce up a tired flower bed is by adding new mulch or other ground covers like bark chips or gravel to help make the beds look fresh and new. A yard that has fresh mulch will always draw in a buyer’s eye because the yard looks put together and cared for.

IMG_3778

Summer is a popular time for real estate and an even more popular time for your yard. If your home can benefit from a little yard TLC, don’t hesitate. The tips above are easy, quick, and they’ll certainly help your home stand out from the competition. In the past I have put new mulch out in the spring but forgot this year.  The local home improvement store, such as Lowe’s or Menard’s, usually has great sales on mulch in the fall.  Don’t forget to grab some colorful mums to brighten up your front porch.

Not a DIY type, ask your friends and family if they know any local landscapers.  You might be surprised how affordable they are!

The Plaza Art Fair

Once again Fall is quickly approaching and the first thing that comes to my mind is The Plaza Art Fair.  This outdoor event takes place every September on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.  Nine city blocks are blocked off and hundreds of artists booths and Restaurant booths line the streets.  The atmosphere is amazing!  Although the event is considered family friendly, a word of advice; don’t take your small children (especially strollers) on Friday evening. Friday evening is considered the kick-off event and the streets are lined with everyone from the young adults to the older ones enjoying adult beverages.  By 9pm, it’s extremely hard to move around the streets.  Don’t forget to check out the 3 Live Stages with local and national talents.  And wear your dancing shoes, you will need them!

 

My favorite part of the art fair are the restaurant booths!  The top eateries on the Plaza make special hand held sized portions of their main dishes for a great price.  A steak sandwich with herbed goat cheese and balsamic onions from The Capital Grille.  Yes please. Carnitas Tacos from The Oliver.  Sure.  Truffle Bacon Popcorn from Rye.  Hells yes. Did I mention all different types of local beer, margaritas, and sangria? The fact that you are able to walk around the streets of the Country Club Plaza and try award winning food without having to spend an arm and a leg at the establishment itself.  Perfect time to share with a friend and try it all while looking at some of the best artwork in the country.

This year the event takes place on September 21st-23rd.  Parking is crazy so I recommend taking an Uber or Lyft that evening so you don’t have worry about parking.