Whether you’re purchasing a new or used property, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspection and to make your offer contingent on the inspection. Then, if the inspector finds too many costly problems with the house, you can negotiate or walk away from the purchase and ask to have your earnest money refunded.
A complete home inspection usually takes two to three hours and involves checking the interior and exterior of the home, including the plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, heating system, roof, siding, attic, basement, windows, foundation, appliances and garage.
Keep in mind that, although the inspection is very thorough, it does not cover certain items. It’s meant to be a visual inspection, so anything the inspector cannot see is off limits. The inspector will not bore holes in walls, remove paneling, move boxes or furniture out of the way, or look under carpets. Inspectors also will not test for mold, insect infestation, radon or other hazardous substances. Most inspectors will recommend having a specialist inspect the home if they suspect any of these problems.
Be prepared to pay the inspector’s fee at the time of the inspection, rather than at the closing. Fees differ, but usually run between $300 and $375, depending on the inspector and the size of the house.
Inspectors generally do the inspection before the buyer and Realtor arrive at the home. This allows them to concentrate on their work and complete their written report. When you arrive, the inspector will walk you through the house, explain her findings, and give you the written report. You’ll be able to ask questions about repairs, and the inspector will give you tips on how to maintain your new home. You can also invite parents or friends to attend the inspection.
The inspector’s job is to make you aware of the home’s defects. He will not tell you whether or not to buy the home, or if he thinks the home is worth the amount you are offering.
After the inspection, you’ll have several options:
1. You can negotiate repairs. If the inspector finds serious, expensive, or hazardous problems, you can ask the seller to do one or more of the following: repair some or all of the defective items; lower the sale price; or contribute an amount to your closing costs.
2. You can cancel the Purchase Agreement. If the repairs seem too overwhelming, you can cancel the contract. Because you will have made your offer contingent on the inspection, if you cancel the contract within the terms of the inspection addendum, your earnest money should be returned.
3. You can proceed with the sale. If the inspection just reveals normal “old home” items or small, inexpensive issues, you can ignore them, remove the inspection contingency and proceed with the sale.
As yet, there are no licensing requirements for inspectors in Minnesota, so in choosing a qualified inspector, consider a full-time professional who is an experienced member of a national trade association, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Your Realtor has likely worked with several reliable inspectors, so she should be able to recommend one.
An inspection is one of the most important steps in purchasing a home. Don’t be tempted to forgo it—this is a small, up-front investment that may save you thousands of dollars!
Janet Contursi has been a Twin Cities Realtor® for more than 10 years. She is expert in all types of residential real estate, including short sales and foreclosures, and she especially enjoys working with first-time buyers and sellers. Contact her at (612-655-1207) or: email@example.com
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