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Girl with magnifying glassOnce an offer on a property is accepted, most buyers hire a professional home inspector to assess the condition of the home. The inspector will write a detailed report for the buyer to use in deciding how to proceed with the purchase. Should the buyer cancel the contract and terminate the purchase; ask for the seller to complete repairs; or request a price reduction or purchase credit from the seller to cover repairs?

Unfortunately, many buyers fail to realize the importance of the home inspection. Keeping the factors below in mind can help ensure that you get the most value from the process.

Attend the inspection

Many buyers let their real estate agent handle the process and don’t even attend the inspection. This is a huge mistake. Most real estate sales professionals are going to do a great job for you, but if you rely on them to handle this process alone, then you aren’t going to hear the inspector point out any issues that might cause you to think again about whether it is the right property for you.

Check the inspector’s credentials

In many states an inspector doesn’t need any formal inspection education and may not have to be licensed or bonded. In order to make sure your inspector is a competent professional, you should do a little research on your state’s requirements, certifications and professional designations. Then question, and verify, the experience and knowledge of your inspector. If you don’t, you might get a really bad inspection report that fails to find important issues.

Inspect the home for yourself

Most of the time a home inspection is only the second or third time a buyer has walked through the property — and probably the first time with a few hours to really look around. This is the most expensive purchase you will ever make. Doesn’t it make sense to do many detailed reviews of the property before you make the final decision to proceed forward with your purchase? Bring a friend or family member along for an additional set of eyes. If you discover something that makes you second guess whether it is the right property for you, you’ll be glad you found it before you closed escrow.

Make a list of costs

At the home inspection, separately from the inspector, you should add up all the costs of items you want to repair, replace, paint, improve, landscape, etc. Adding up all those costs, plus getting bids and estimates to make those repairs and upgrades, will give you a better feel for how much you will be spending on the property once you take ownership.

Negotiate repairs

With your inspection report in hand — plus your list of needed improvements and the assistance of your real estate sales professional — you can request that the seller make repairs. The seller may say no, give you a purchase credit or repair some items. But the more detailed your list, the better the chances the seller will at least give a little — and maybe a lot.

Related:

Leonard Baron, MBA, is America’s Real Estate Professor®. His unbiased, neutral and inexpensive “Real Estate Ownership, Investment and Due Diligence 101” textbook teaches real estate owners how to make smart and safe purchase decisions.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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