It’s the test that makes both home buyers and home sellers hold their breath: the pre-sale home inspection. Let’s take some of the mystery out of the process, and what you can expect.
What is the purpose of a home inspection?
A home inspection is intended to identify issues that would reduce the value of the home. It’s protection for buyers and lenders. Neither the report nor the inspector provide any opinion on whether you’re getting a good deal, or if the house is worth what you’ve offered.
The inspector’s job is to spot areas of risk and problems requiring repair. He or she is making a visual check, looking for signs that experts are trained to see, but that are likely to slip past the layman’s eye. Inspectors also test systems and equipment to make sure everything works the way it should.
The outcome of the inspector’s report provides buyers with guidance on what investments are likely to be needed in order for their soon-to-be new home to be safe, livable and/or operational.
That said, the report’s results can also shift the whole negotiation, if not the sale itself!
Is the seller required to fix all the issues?
Buyers and sellers may wonder if the seller is required to fix everything that the inspector finds. The simple answer is “no.” The longer one is “it depends.”
Everything is up for negotiation. If the seller decides not to fix an issue, they might offer a concession, reducing the price to offset the additional cost a buyer would incur, but they’re not required to. The buyer can choose to accept, or not.
What happens in a home inspection?
Expect the inspection to take several hours. You’re generally allowed to join them, but a seasoned inspector will be taking notes and photos of everything they find, so if you’re not able to attend you’ll still get sufficient detail to address problems.
Here’s what the home inspector will do:
> Check major systems: HVAC, plumbing, electrical.
- Heating and air conditioning units and thermostats are turning on and off and properly heating and cooling without signs of concern like excess noise or leaking;
- Plumbing is all working without excess noise or leaks, with proper water pressure and temperature;
- Electrical systems—outlets, fixtures and visible wiring—are operational and up to code.
> Check structural elements: foundation, basement, floors, windows and doors, roof, and attic.
- Structural settling—dangerous foundation, wall or ceiling cracks;
- Gaps, crevices or breaks in windows, doors and their seals;
- Missing tiles, seals, gutter issues, leaks and/or rot in your roof.
- They’ll often do a visual check of the basement and attic for cracks, visible mold, mildew and/or signs of pests.
Note that the inspection will NOT uncover anything hidden behind the walls. If you or the inspector spot anything that gives you cause for concern, you could ask about a specialized evaluation: asbestos, termites, mold, hazardous chemicals or septic tank issues are among the deeper issues that sometimes need to be addressed. Some lenders require additional inspections; and while some states require radon testing, North Carolina does not.
What should you consider when choosing a home inspector?
Look for someone who’s experienced, and certified. Check the American Society of Home Inspectors to see if they’re members. Then confirm there are no complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau. It’s also a good idea to check that their experience matches your needs. For instance, if you’re buying a multi-family property, or a historic older home, you’ll want to choose an inspector with that track record in their background.
We work with many home inspectors, and are happy to provide several referrals for you.
The home inspection is a critical step in the home buying process, and you can always count on Alexy Realty Group to be your advocate in the negotiation, whether you’re a buyer or a seller. Please give us a call when you’re ready to make a change in your home status!