It’s not exactly glamorous, but the home inspection process is one of the most important factors for every buyer or seller. “The inspection period of an escrow can be very stressful,” says Santa Monica–based real estate consultant Tara Rodgers. “Imagine this, you are a buyer who has searched high and low for the perfect property. The offer is accepted and you have officially fallen in love with what you hope will be your forever home. You then hire a large group of inspectors to tell you everything that is wrong with what may be your largest investment to date. It is not a fun process, but it is absolutely necessary.”
But, Rodgers says it’s all about the preparation, and finding the right (and qualified) inspector. Depending on the type of home, here are her no-fail tips for navigating any common pitfalls, perfecting the process, and becoming as informed as possible.
“The general home inspection provides a general overview of the ‘health’ of a home and any key items that a buyer should focus on or revisit. I would not recommend solely relying on a general inspection. This is a huge mistake that many buyers make. Although a general inspection gives you a great overview of all key aspects of a home, it is vital to concentrate on the big-ticket items with a specialist.”
“The condition of the foundation and drainage is extremely important. Significant structural issues can be costly, so it is imperative to understand how the foundation and drainage are performing, what repairs are normal for the age of a certain home, what items are cause for concern, and the estimated cost to rectify key items that may arise.”
“You’ll want to know if the property requires tenting or treatment before your official move-in date, and consider any carpentry work that needs to be tended to in order to prevent further damage.”
“A sewer line repair or replacement can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $40,000 depending on the level of work required, so it is crucial for the buyer to be aware of any required repairs or replacements to avoid any surprise back-ups during the first year of ownership.”
“A roof leak, whether large or small, can be a significant factor. Your roof is essential and something essential to invest in perfecting.”
“No one wants to be surprised by a significant water or mold issue. Mold remediation can be very minor or it can be costly and extensive.”
“I always tell buyers that unless the fireplace was recently rebuilt, you can almost always expect that improvements will be needed and that it is not built to today’s code. This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it’s important to understand what is safe and not safe to use, and future costs to improve when ready.”
“Once inspections are complete, a buyer will then work with the inspectors and their agent to determine if any additional inspections are needed and what budget will be needed to complete crucial repairs. It is vital to understand what can wait and what needs to be addressed right away.”
“Review the property with the agent before officially accepting an offer to discuss all worst and best case scenarios. It will feel much less overwhelming during inspections if common repairs and potential costs have already been addressed and assessed.”
“Discuss the budget for repairs and remodel work in advance of writing, and determine if expectations are realistic for the type of home being pursued.”
“Take a deep breath and don’t succumb to nerves. Take it one step at a time and lean on the agent and inspectors to help compile all of the information needed to make an educated decision. Information is key! The more information received, the more comfortable the inspection process will be.”
“Ask questions and become as informed as possible. And, ask for referrals. The inspector hired is crucial. Do not move forward with an inspector that has not been strongly recommended.”
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