Purchasing a home is no doubt one of the most important purchases you will make in your lifetime, so you should be sure that the home you want to buy is in good condition. A home inspection is an evaluation of a homes condition by a formerly trained expert. It is the best consumer protection service available. During a home inspection, a qualified home inspector will take an in-depth and impartial look at the property you plan to buy.
The home inspector will:
* Evaluate the physical condition of the home including: the foundation, structure, construction and mechanical systems.
* Identify items that should be repaired or replaced as well as alert you to areas that may pose a potential problem for you in the future.
* Estimate the age and current condition of the all of the major systems such as the roof, electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning equipment, structure and finishes.
After the home inspection is complete, you will receive a written report of the findings from the home inspector, usually the same day as the inspection.
Finding a Qualified Independent Home Inspector
As a homebuyer, it is ultimately your responsibility to carefully screen and select a qualified home inspector. I will stress that it is “your” responsibility, and not your real estate agent’s. After you actually purchase your new home, your real estate agent will not be responsible for paying the unexpected repair costs that result from a non-thorough or “patty cake” home inspection. Any unexpected repair costs will be your responsibility.
Understanding the Home Inspector / Realtor Relationship
For your protection, it is strongly suggested to hire an independent home inspector, instead of a home inspector who is recommended by your real estate agent, and here’s why:
Most home inspectors regularly solicit real estate agents for work, in the hopes that the real estate agent will exclusively recommend his or her home inspection services to all of the real estate agent’s clients. Agents work with many home buyers throughout the year, and each home buyer will eventually need a home inspection in order to close the sale. In the past, it originally made sense for an agent to find one or two home inspectors that he/she could regularly recommend to clients. However, this agent / Home Inspector relationship carries a rather large conflict of interest along with it.
(a) Real Estate Agents make their commission when their client actually purchases the home.
(b) A client will only purchase the home if they find the home’s condition acceptable. (Among other reasons)
(c) A negative home inspection can stop a home sale dead in its tracks as well as the agents commission for that sale.
Now, this is not meant to be an accusation of any agents or Home Inspectors. However, in this relationship, the Home Inspector may feel stated or unstated pressure from the agent. There may be pressure to deliver a positive home inspection report or the agent may pressure the home inspector to produce an inspection report in less time at the expense of performing a more thorough home inspection. After all, the agent could easily replace the Home Inspector with another who may tend to write more lenient reports. To be honest, there are many other Home Inspectors who would line up for a chance to get a steady flow of new clients from the agent.
The Bottom Line: Spending Hundreds May Save Thousands
When you make a purchase agreement on a home, you should insist that the contract state that the offer is contingent on a professional home inspection conducted by a qualified independent home inspector of your choice. Independent home inspectors are hired by you, and they do not have a “cozy” relationship with the real estate agent. Hiring a qualified independent home inspector could help stop you from buying a house that will cost you thousands of dollars in repairs down the road. Only after the independent home inspection is complete and you are satisfied with the results of the home inspection, your real estate purchase offer can proceed.