Picture this!  You have come to terms on a contract for your first home.  You have a seven day option period to get the house inspected.  This option period allows you to get out of the contract if your inspection finds something you don’t like about the property, or you can’t come to terms with the sellers on the repairs needing to be done to the property.   Either way, it is always best, your agent tells you, to hire a professional inspection company to look over the property for any issues, whether big or small.   However, you have never done an inspection before so you don’t even know the first step in the process.   What do you do?

No doubt you will feel a little unease getting your first home inspected.  Luckily for you, you can refer to this list of frequent questions to consider while getting your first home inspected.   It is not really that difficult to get the inspection itself done.  The stressful part comes with the inspection results, which will bring to light some issues with the property.  You can go back to the seller to request repairs.  You can do this, regardless the fact that every residential home sale is an ‘as-is” purchase, because of the option period.  If you don’t get what you want form the seller, you can simply terminate the contract and move on to the next property.   

Here is a list of the frequent asked questions to consider while getting your first home inspected.   When you are done reading these questions and answers, please go here to see some other frequent questions to consider as a first time home buyer.  

What is a home inspection – A home inspection is “a non-invasive visual examination of a residential dwelling, performed for a fee, which is designed to identify observed material defects within specific components of said dwelling.”  Every buyer should have a home inspection done before purchasing a property.  It just makes sense to have a licensed expert look over the property for any hidden defects that you did not observe during your viewings of the home.   Home inspectors are very comprehensive in their analysis and will advise on any defects they find.   Some of the more complex systems, like electrical, plumbing, roof or foundation, they will just tell you that something is not right about it and advise that you bring out the respective expert to evaluate it and give you a quote on fixing the issue.   

Where do I find a home inspection company? – There are a lot of inspectors in the field today so you shouldn’t have any issues finding one.  I would ask family and friends for recommendations since, as with every other field, there are good inspectors and bad inspectors.  Online reviews are also another great place to go to get an idea on the quality of a home inspector.   Your realtor will also sometimes have a close relationship with specific inspection companies so make sure to ask them as well.   In the long run, a lot rides on the home inspection so I wouldn’t just call one and get it done.  You need to do some research before you actually put any money towards it. 

How much does it cost to do a home inspection?  Does the seller pay for it?  – The inspection cost will be the buyer’s responsibility.    Inspections can run from a couple hundred dollars up to six or seven depending on the inspection company and what you require the inspector to do.  There are additional costs if you require the inspector to look at items beyond the basic household systems (aka a well, sprinkler system or septic system)  Most inspectors will also inspect for termites, which some lenders will require.   

What will the home inspector look over during their inspection? – Inspectors look at all the basic systems in the house including windows and doors.  It is always amazing how much an inspector can find when doing an inspection.  It is always best to go into the inspection knowing that the inspector will make note of any issues no matter how small.  It does not mean your future home is going to fall down around you once you move into the house.  Inspectors are just very careful to make sure you are aware of all issues.   They do this for your, and their own, protection.  It is up to you what you do with the information he or she provides.    

Do I need to be there during the inspection? – Most inspectors don’t like clients, or realtors, to be there during the first two hours of the inspection.   It can be distracting to the inspector to have the client looking over their shoulders every step.  If you are not there, they can focus on doing the job at hand so they can give you a more comprehensive report on the property.   It is best to show up at the property the last 30 minutes so the inspector can give you a quick summary of what he or she discovered.   

What happens after I receive the inspection report? – You have some decisions to discuss with your realtor once you receive the report back from the inspection company.  You need to look to see if the inspector recommended further inspection of a major system (plumbing, roof, electrical, foundation, etc).  I always tell my clients to make sure to follow the advice of the inspector and call out the respective vendor to look over the major system.  It is in your best interest to know if the system is truly severely faulty or just needs minor repairs.   Be aware that some vendors will charge a fee to go inspect a system and give a quote on repair.   The other decision, of course, is if you want to move forward with the purchase of the property.  If you don’t, your agent will have you sign a termination form and a form to release earnest funds back to you.  If you do want to continue the purchase, you will then need to determine what repairs to request of the seller.   You do this through a repair amendment that your realtor will fill out for you.  

How do I decide what repairs to request of the seller?  – This is the $20,000 question.  Repair amendments are not fun for either side of the transaction.  Sellers don’t like to hear that their house is not perfect and buyers like it even less so on a house they are about to purchase.   You have weigh very carefully how to approach the repair amendment.   Hopefully, you were able to get the inspection(s) scheduled early in your option period so the seller has amble opportunity to consider your repair amendment.  If you rush the seller, you will often get a flat no so it is always best to give the seller’s plenty of time to answer, or offer to pay more for an extension to the option period.   No matter when you send the repair amendment, you need to be sure not to just carbon copy the inspection report summary page to the repair amendment.  When you do this, the seller will only pick a few of the repairs in reaction to be asking to do so much.   It always works best to pick one or two of the more expensive repairs, either in money or your time to repair it yourself, and add a few more repairs that you don’t want to do yourself.  Sellers will much more open if you give them less to repair.  If you are in a situation where there are many critical repairs to be done, you could also ask for a sales price reduction or an allowance to fix the repairs yourself (be sure to speak to your lender for what is allowed when it comes allowances).   In this way, you can be sure the repairs are done correctly.   These are other tactical steps you can take with a repair amendment so be sure to ask your realtor to go over all the options when it comes to submitting the repair amendment to the seller. 

Does the seller have to do the repairs? What happens if they don’t respond?  After getting your first home inspected, you will hopeful have cooperative reasonable sellers to find middle ground on the repairs.   However, you will at times come across a seller that does not want to do the repairs at all.  Please remember that all residential real estate purchases are “as-is” purchases so the seller has the right to say no, just like you have the right to terminate the contract during the option period.   One tactic I have seen sellers take is not to respond to the repair amendment at all and leave the decision to terminate in the hands of the buyers.   In cases like this, discuss the situation with your realtor.  Most likely, they will recommend you send over the repair amendment again with a termination form.  You tell the seller that if they don’t respond within a certain time period, the listing agent can consider the termination letter to be in effect.   This step will usually be enough to get a response from the sellers.   

Who will be making the repairs? – All repairs have to be made by licensed technicians well versed in their trade, or someone who does not have a license but can prove they possess the expertise to make the repair.  If you so choose, you can also negotiate with the seller to allow them to do the repairs themselves, but this is not recommended as you want to make sure the repairs are done correctly before purchasing the property. 

How long does the seller have to make the repairs? – Sellers have until the day you close on the house to make the repairs, but most will work to get it done sooner.   Sellers don’t want to risk having the contract terminated for failure to do repairs.  

What happens if the repairs are not done before our closing date?  If repairs are not done by closing date, you as a buyer have the right to extend the closing up to 5 days to allow the seller to complete the repairs.  Be sure to always have your realtor schedule a final walk through to inspect the repairs done and bring your own licensed individuals to make sure they are done correctly.   Real Estate contracts are perpetual in nature so even if you discover a faulty repair after closing, you can still request the seller fix the broken item.  However, this is difficult to enforce after the fact so it is better to catch the faulty repairs before you sign the paperwork.  

Now that you are done reading these Frequent Questions to Consider, go here to see the other ones.  If you like what you have read, be sure to sign up for my monthly email newsletter so you can have real estate information delivered to your inbox every last Saturday of the month. 

 

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