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First Time Home Buyer? Here are Four Things to Know about a General Home Inspection

A general inspection is used to evaluate the physical condition of a home prior to purchase. A professional home inspector will evaluate the home and its components, focusing primarily on uncovering any major deficiencies, potentially expensive repairs, or safety issues.

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The potential buyer is then presented with a written report that outlines the inspector’s findings. Knowing the home’s current condition allows the buyer to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with the purchase.

If you are new to the home buying process, below are four important things to know about a General Home Inspection…

1) The Home Inspection is Optional

As the buyer, you are not required to have a general home inspection. Whether you choose to have the inspection is entirely up to you. That said, 4 out of 5 home buyers elect to have a general inspection performed. Why? Because no home buyer wants to enter into a contract they will regret. Even though a home inspection is optional, it is purely for the buyer’s benefit.

Buying a home is a big investment and an inspection provides valuable insight into the property’s condition. A general home inspection will uncover any serious defects before the purchase contract is signed. This helps the buyer determine if the purchase should go forward as planned, be re-negotiated, or abandoned altogether.

2) The Home Inspection is the Responsibility of the Buyer

If the buyer decides to have the home inspected, it is the buyer’s responsibility to choose the inspector and make timely arrangements for the inspection.

Also, since the home inspector is working on behalf of the buyer, the buyer is required to pay for the inspection.

3) The Home Inspection is a Visual Overview

A general inspection involves a visual overview of the home and its main systems. Again, the primary focus of a general inspection is to uncover major issues, potentially expensive repairs, and safety concerns.

As such, a general inspection does not normally include a detailed analysis or exhaustive testing. However, if certain components of the home warrant further examination, the inspector may recommend the buyer arrange to have a more specialized inspection performed.

4) The Home Inspection is not Pass / Fail

Contrary to what many people assume about a home inspection, there is no Pass or Fail, nor is there any grading system. A general home inspection is merely intended to gather important facts about the property. The information gathered during the inspection provides valuable insight to the buyer so that a sound purchase decision can be made.

It is also important to note that the inspector will only provide facts and observations. He or she will never render an opinion as to whether or not to proceed with the home purchase. That decision is solely for the buyer to make.

A general home inspection is an important part of the home buying process because it provides the buyer with the information needed to make good decisions. Even though the inspector will provide a written report after the inspection, it is recommended that the buyer also be present during the home inspection in order to get a firsthand explanation of any concerns that may arise.

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Five Recommendations for Getting More Value from a Professional Home Inspection

The majority of home buyers elect to have at least one type of inspection performed on the property they are considering for purchase. General home inspections are the most common, but other inspections are also available to meet the buyer’s specific needs and circumstances. Certain inspections may even be required by the loan provider, insurance company, or the home’s jurisdiction before a sale can be completed.

Inspections provide information needed to make good decisions, so they are an extremely important component of the home buying process. Below are five ways the buyer can get more value from an inspection…

1) Select a reputable Inspector

Real estate agents often recommend certain inspection providers, but you are under no obligation to use any of the ones being referred. As the potential buyer of the home (and the purchaser of the inspection) you have the right to use an inspector of your choosing. To avoid a conflict of interest, select one that only performs inspections…not one that also offers home repair services. Also, be diligent about checking reviews or references to ensure you pick an inspector that has an established reputation and the proper experience. The inspector should also be licensed (if your state requires it), bonded, and insured. Another plus is if they are certified through a respected organization such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). Before selecting an inspector, you might even ask to see an example of the written report they typically provide after an inspection. This will help you gauge the inspector’s thoroughness and professionalism.

2) Be present for the Inspection

It is in your best interest to attend any inspections you arrange to have done. However, bear in mind that a good inspection is not a quick process. How long does a home inspection take? Well, depending on the type of inspection and the size of the property, it will likely take several hours to complete…so be sure to plan accordingly. By accompanying the inspector, you will gain valuable insight about the condition of the home and its subsystems. In addition, you will be able to see firsthand exactly what the inspector sees and can be given an immediate explanation of the findings. You will also be able to learn more about the property, such as where the shut-off valves are located for the water and gas, as well as the location of the circuit panel. This knowledge will come in handy should you decide to purchase the home.

3) Ask a lot of questions, but try to ask most of them at the end

It is important to have all of your questions answered, but you also don’t want to distract the inspector from doing a thorough job. For this reason, it is better to ask the majority of your questions at the conclusion of the inspection. With this in mind, it might be a good idea to carry a clipboard or notepad with you during the inspection so you can jot down questions as they arise. If you don’t understand any of the inspector’s answers, be sure to ask follow-up questions. Buying a home is likely one of the biggest purchases of your life, so it is important to comprehend all the issues and how they might affect you going forward.

4) Respect the Inspector’s role

The inspector’s job is to report on the current condition of the home, or in some cases a particular subsystem of the home. The inspector is not there to offer an appraisal of the property nor to fix anything that may be defective. Another thing to keep in mind is that the inspector is there to provide facts and observations. The inspector should not be expected to provide opinions on whether or not the home is worth the asking price or if you should buy the home. It is the buyer’s decision on whether to proceed with the purchase.

5) Read the report carefully

After the inspection is complete, the inspector will compile a comprehensive written report. It may take a few days to complete the report, which will contain an objective and detailed evaluation of the home’s current condition. In addition to general facts about the property, the report will outline any existing problems or potential problems that were observed during the visual inspection. In addition to these written explanations, the report should include photos of the home and any defects that may have been found. The report is a custom document prepared just for you, so it should not be casually skimmed over. The information it contains could affect the outcome of your home transaction, so review it thoroughly.

Professional inspections help you learn as much as you can about the home you are considering for purchase. If an inspection identifies areas of concern, it doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t go through with the home purchase. An inspection just helps you know in advance what to expect, so you can make confident decisions about how to proceed.

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