Whether it’s your first or your fifteenth transaction, buying a home is a significant financial decision that demands some measure of caution. Regardless of the property type, it is wise to operate from the point of view that most homes have flaws (even when they’re newly constructed). Hidden safety concerns and significant repairs can add up quick, so it’s a good best practice to avoid surprises and have a prospective home thoroughly evaluated by a certified, experienced home inspector.
A strong case can also be made for sellers to have their home inspected prior to listing. Finding and fixing issues before a buyer’s inspection can help you get a higher price for your home and curtail the opportunity for a buyer to back out.
In today’s guest blog, Farren West of Key Inspection Services, shares three important tips for buyers and another three for sellers. — Chris Kallin, Broker, SeattlebyDesign
Home Inspection Tips for Buyers
- Don’t Skip the Home Inspection
If you think skipping the home inspection is going to save you money, keep reading. A home inspection can actually save you money in several ways:
- You’ll know exactly what you’re buying and if you should expect any major future expenses, such as replacing a roof within a few years.
- You’ll have the confidence to walk away from a deal if a serious issue is found; or you may choose to proceed, but fully informed regarding what you’re investing in.
- If you do move forward on a house in need of major repairs, you can use the findings in the home inspection report to negotiate a lower cost.
Hiring a reputable home inspector will help you proceed through the transaction with confidence and peace of mind.
- Ask Questions
Your home inspector is there to help you ensure you’re purchasing a high-quality house that is free of major defects, so ask any questions that you have! A good home inspector will be more than happy to answer any and all of your questions.
Here are a couple key questions to ask your home inspector:
- What kind of maintenance will this home require?
- It’s really important to remember that, just like a car requires regular maintenance to avoid costly repairs, your home does too!
- What are you most concerned about?
- It is normal to feel uneasy when items are called out in an inspection report. You’ll be surprised to hear that most homes have similar issues and they’re usually not deal-breakers. Remember, no home is perfect and every home requires maintenance/repairs as time goes by.
Be mindful of the common temptation to focus on minor cosmetic issues. Focus on the most critical aspects of the home that could be expensive to repair or replace including electrical, plumbing, or underlying structure. Leverage the expertise of your home inspector by asking questions so that you feel informed to make a sound decision and equipped to take great care of your substantial investment.
- Choose your Home Inspector Wisely
Hiring a qualified home inspector is a great way to protect your investment. No two home inspectors are alike. Some home inspectors crawl through the crawl space, others don’t. Some inspectors peer into the attic from the access door, while others traverse every corner of the attic. Some inspectors finish an inspection in two hours, while others are more thorough and take upwards of four hours to finish an average-sized house. In addition, every home inspector offers different ancillary services and prices their home inspection differently.
Having a home inspection is crucial to a buyer’s decision-making process because it gives you a clear picture of the condition of your potential investment. Choosing the right home inspector will give you a better understanding of the state of the home and how much you can expect to spend on upkeep and repairs.
Home Inspection Tips for Sellers
- Know What to Expect
A home inspector evaluates the overall condition of the home at the time of inspection to ensure that its major systems and components are installed and working properly. Some of these include:
- Water Heater
- Heating & Cooling
The home inspector evaluates the condition and quality of the home objectively and then documents those findings in a report.
Prior to the home inspection, it wouldn’t hurt to go around your house to make minor repairs and look for anything in need of attention. Get your appliances and major systems serviced to ensure they’re in good shape. This may seem like a lot of work, but it means you’ll have less to worry about during the buyer’s inspection and it shows the buyer that your home is well cared for.
- Considering Getting a Pre-Listing Inspection
Avoid surprises by getting a pre-listing inspection. If you’re reading this you might be thinking this is a waste of money. But consider the following advantages:
- A pre-listing inspection can reduce the stress of selling your home. You have the advantage of discovering problems ahead of time with no rush to fix them. You can also decide not to make repairs but disclose them to the buyer upfront.
- Help get top-dollar for your home! If you get your home inspected prior to listing, you’ll know exactly what condition it’s in and what repairs need to be made. Take care of these ahead of time and avoid giving the buyer any reason to negotiate a lower selling price.
- Speed up your sales price. Nothing drags out a home deal like finding unexpected issues during the buyer’s inspection. A pre-listing inspection allows you to fix issues ahead of time or disclose them upfront so there are no surprises.
Selling your home is stressful, but you can limit the level of stress by being prepared. A pre-listing inspection makes the process easier on all parties.
- Avoid Common Deal Breakers
There are a multitude of reasons why some home deals fall through, but most of them are avoidable. Here are some common examples of scenarios that cause a buyer to back out of a deal and what a home seller can do to prevent it.
- Structural Issues
- Overcome potential objections by disclosing structural issues upfront—prior to listing the home—and set the selling price accordingly.
- Safety Issues
- Make the necessary repairs to ensure your home isn’t a safety hazard. For healthy safety, test for radon and mold and if necessary, hire a mitigation company.
- Pest Problems
- Before putting your home on the market, check thoroughly for any signs of termites or other pests that may be inhabiting your home. If you happen to find any bugs or critters, hire an exterminator or pest control company immediately.
Selling your home is a major life-changing process, but it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Avoid these common mistakes and you might close the deal faster than you thought was possible.
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