Buying a home is one of life’s biggest purchases. From securing a mortgage loan to finding the right home and making an offer on the house, the home buying process is full of new experiences and challenges for first time buyers and seasoned homeowners alike.
And selling a home can have just as many obstacles, from preparing your home for sale, negotiating offers, to moving out of the place you once called home. But one thing both buyers and sellers can benefit from is a home inspection.
That’s why we’ve reached out to expert home inspectors for their best home inspection tips for both buyers and sellers. So whether you’re planning on buying a home in Houston, TX or you’re selling your Tampa, FL home, scheduling a home inspection can make the journey that much easier.
Tip #1: Find out what to expect from your home inspector
Have a conversation with your inspector before you choose. Find out availability for questions or concerns after receiving your reports. Buying a home without getting an inspection is like going to court without an attorney – you get what you pay for.
Tip #2: Always get a home inspection, no matter the market
This is not a normal market so whatever you do, don’t forsake getting a home inspection. No one should line up to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars or more for the next 15-30 years without knowing the condition of what they’re buying. You’re making an investment and the home inspection is the most important aspect of the due diligence process. The market will change and you don’t want to be stuck in a home you can’t sell or can’t afford to repair.
Tip #3: Don’t skip on a termite inspection
Get a termite inspection. Termites cause $5 billion dollars worth of damage annually in the US. Inspections are key to ensure there is not large-scale damage or expensive repairs that could come as a surprise. Many inspectors also look for other wood-destroying organisms such as carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and wood-boring beetles. – Dr. Nancy Troyano, Board Certified Entomologist and Director of Operations Education and Training at Rentokil serving locations across the US housing market
Tip #4: Termites can hide even in the least likely homes
We always recommend a termite inspection. Even if a house is constructed of concrete block, there is still a possibility of termites in roof systems and furniture.
Tip #5: Ask for a termite treatment and repair warranty
When buying a house, always get a wood destroying organism inspection (also known as a clearance letter or termite letter). Even better, ask for a termite treatment and repair warranty. This is important because even thorough inspections are very limited as termites usually remain hidden until the damage is done.
Tip #6: And don’t pass on a pest inspection either
It is vital to complete a professional pest inspection before closing on your new home. A licensed pest pro can locate hard to find symptoms such as excessive moisture, cracked or damaged wood, rodent droppings, or poorly sealed windows and doors, before they become a costly issue. Most homebuyers don’t realize mice can fit through openings as small as a dime. In addition, many pest control providers will do this for free as a courtesy inspection in hopes you choose them when professional pest control becomes warranted.
Tip #7: A home inspection will tell you more about the home than meets the eye
For a majority of people, their largest purchase in life is buying a home. New paint, new countertops, new floors, etc. makes for a pretty home. But it tells you nothing about the bones and history of the home. Getting under the house, going in the attic, digging into the electrical, HVAC, and plumbing components are going to paint a picture of the history of the home. This is your largest investment in your life so don’t forgo an inspection that usually costs less than 1/4 of 1% of the sales price. The best way to know what you are buying, is to have an inspection on the home prior to your option period expiring.
Tip #8: Keep your eyes peeled for signs of roof leaks
Roof leaks don’t typically come from a failure of the roof covering (shingles). Instead, they usually come from roof penetrations such as chimneys, pipe stacks, or satellite dish installations that are not flashed properly. Your home inspector will look for signs of water penetration in the attic around these key areas where roof leaks most often occur.
Tip #9: Home inspections could save you money in the future
A home inspection is crucial especially in today’s fast moving market. The home inspection can save you potentially thousands of dollars in repairs.
Tip #10: For sellers, schedule a pre-listing inspection
One of the benefits of a pre-listing inspection is that you know prior to putting your house up for sale what might be needed to do. Sometimes if you have deferred maintenance, by getting the termite/dry rot repairs done will make the property look better, and in turn more desirable.
Tip #11: Make sure all of your bases are covered, from scheduling to reviewing reports
It’s a good rule of thumb to account for 3-5 days minimum lead time when scheduling inspections, especially in the warmer months when demand from the non-sale consumer segment is highest. When you receive your report, make sure to read it from front to back including the disclaimers, findings, recommendations, and any notes from your inspector to fully understand the scope and limitations of the inspection report. Discrepancies between listing reports and buyer’s reports are not uncommon- save yourself time by making sure your report includes photos to verify findings and expedite the resolution process. When purchasing a home with recent renovations, you may be able to limit unwelcome surprises down the road by doing investigation to find out if the party who performed the repairs is duly licensed, if they obtained any applicable permits for the larger repairs and what their warranty may include and exclude.
Tip # 12: Make sure the inspection covers all areas of the home, even the hard-to-reach ones
Make sure that the inspection is thorough and covers all areas of the home that are accessible. If areas aren’t accessible which need to be inspected, then an opening or access point should be required by the buyers from the sellers in order to sign off on the inspection contingency. I have seen many times where for one reason or another a part of someone’s home was missed during their initial inspection to buy their home.
For homeowners and especially those thinking about selling their house in the future, don’t wait until the last minute before finding out what is going on in and around your home. Either hire out a professional inspection, or at least get evaluations done by professionals on your home’s needs. Many companies will give free inspections for their area of expertise if you are interested in using their services. When you have your home pre-checked, make sure those inspectors have access to and know about all the areas around your home.
Bottom line is, make sure that whether buying or selling a home you know the condition it is in, the repairs it needs or will soon need, and that the home is built in a way to allow any future repairs or inspections to be done as easily as possible.
Tip #13: Don’t forget about the gutters
“Your new home is beautiful,” says those family members or friends that share your excitement. So with all lights being green, you have your new keys, it would not be hard to overlook a minor thing like “gutters.” Sure they catch the rain and funnel it away, but they aren’t really that big a deal. Are they?
The answer is a resounding yes. Gutters are a huge deal. In fact, investment in professionally installed gutters can be one of the most important preventative maintenance steps you can take to extend the useful life of your home.
The primary job of gutters is to move moisture away from the foundation of the home. Over time, our homes settle. That is a fact that cannot be avoided. The best case scenario is even settlement. Proper installment of gutters push the draining rain water away from the foundation where it can, in different parts of the dwelling, cause the foamed action to settle unevenly. Aside from roof replacement, foundation repair is one of the most costly repairs to make on a home.
Other benefits include, prevention of staining to the sides of the dwelling and prevention of damage to landscaping surrounding the home. One slight drawback is they may require some minor routine maintenance which includes cleaning out any leaves or pine needles to insure they remain clear allowing draining water to move freely. So although they are mostly played down, I am a loud advocate of gutter installation. Coupled with proper grading around the dwelling, your foundation is now equipped to perform as it is intended.
From learning about the condition of the home you’re purchasing to identifying repair needs that could end up costing you a sale, home inspections can be beneficial for both buyers and sellers. Keeping these home inspections tips in mind when it comes time to buy or sell a home can help ease the stress that comes with a home purchase or sale.