Generally, I always recommend to my buyers that they hire a home inspector to look over any home that they have in escrow that they want to purchase.
In fact, if they don’t hire or pay for a home inspection on a property then I have to have them sign a disclosure form that says they are acting against the advice of their broker (me). This form is supposed to cover my rear end in the event that a buyer attempts to sew me down the road, etc.
I usually recommend a home inspector that I have used for several years that is very knowledgeable. Most of the time buyers are happy to go with my recommendation. Occasionally they may know someone in the industry or have a friend that really liked their inspector so they want that particular one.
But on a more practical level, I like to have my buyers pay for a home inspection because I have found them to be very beneficial to buyers. It helps when you have an inspector that is knowledgeable about homes and inspections and that has seen many similar homes in the neighborhood or ones built by the same builder, etc.
The home inspector’s main role is to give a property a one over and alert the buyer to any problems or potential future problems.
The longevity or experience of a home inspector is worth their weight in gold. I’m usually amazed with what my inspector knows about certain things in a house like which company in town installed the HVAC systems in a house that is 15 years old, etc. This allows buyers to contact the people who know most about the system for any upkeep or maintenance.
Typically the inspector will check out all the mechanical items in a home to see if they are operating properly. If something isn’t working properly or needs to be serviced the item will be noted in their report.
The home inspection report is not designed to be the definitive end all report in regards to the health of a home. I do not appreciate the reports that are 30-50 pages in length as if the longer the report the better it is. Often times the important information about a home can get lost if it is 40+ pages of 8 point font. I like the reports that are 10-20 pages maximum with color photos included of the more important or pressing items.
There is an inspector in town that has a one-page report. He does it on like a triplicate form and retains the pink or yellow copy for himself while handing the original piece of paper to the agent or the buyer. I don’t necessarily like that approach either. I like some colored photos showing any damage or potential problems with a description below the photos.
Since home inspectors are not experts in any one particular area or trade, they should recommend further evaluation by the appropriate licensed professional or technician, etc. So if the inspector notes that the AC isn’t blowing cool enough to meet the standard or if there isn’t sufficient airflow coming out of the vents they should recommend a licensed HVAC company or contractor inspect the unit for further evaluation.
Don’t use an inspector that is a know it all or this could blow up your escrow before it closes.
The inspector should be able to defer and admit that they are not an authority on plumbing unless they are also a plumbing contractor, etc. Which brings up another good point, sometimes contractors dabble in home inspections and I have experienced this to not be ideal. You want a home inspector that is going to spend 2-3 hours looking over an average sized home before writing a report. You don’t want the 30-minute gloss over.
On the flip side, you don’t want a home inspector that will be afraid of any liability and defer everything out to a “specialist” in the field. That would take away from the purpose of getting a home inspection. If the home inspection report is going to say that it is recommended for a plumber, contractor, HVAC company, electrician, soils engineer, structural engineer, mason contractor, and a painter go out for further evaluation then you have basically wasted your money on the home inspection because you could have hired all of those specialists individually without paying any money to the home inspector in the first place.
Are certain homes better candidates for the use of a home inspector?
I would say absolutely the need for a home inspector may vary significantly from home to home. To make a generalization, the older the home the more time that has gone by for problems to occur. For instance, homes with 50-100 year old trees in the yard may have stronger or bigger roots that could cause problems for the walkways, foundation, sprinklers, and fences, etc. Any part of a home’s exterior that has had more years and seasons of exposure to extreme weather conditions will be more susceptible to breaking down or entropy.
The more problems or potential problems with a home could cost thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to a buyer. If potential buyers are not made aware of possible downfalls of owning a particular home then they have the potential of causing legal problems for the sellers and agents involved. Even if buyers are made aware of all the problems it still doesn’t preclude a lawsuit down the road.
There are many homes that are resold within 5 years of being built. Sometimes these homes have very little to report by a home inspector. This often depends on the nature of the seller and how they cared for their home and if it was owner-occupied or rented.
So instead of an inspector pointing out faulty wiring or improper plumbing they may have photos of stains on the carpet or wear and tear on the kitchen tile floor, etc. Time has a way of revealing imperfections and typically the newer the home the less glaring the home inspection report.
How the Home Inspection Could Cause Turbulence or a Cancelled Escrow
If the home inspector’s job or purpose is to point out any problems with a home or potential problems then you bet that their report could open a “can of worms” so to speak. In the California Association of Realtors standard purchase offer form, there is pre-written a 17-day contingency or inspection period for a buyer to complete all investigations, reports, appraisals etc.
It is typically after the home inspection report has been turned into the buyer or their agent that the buyer comes up with items that they would like put on a request for repairs form for the seller to fix, repair or exchange money (seller credit) in lieu of repairs. It is during this early period of the escrow when the buyer is to receive any and all bad reports about the property, including the home inspection report.
Typically after the home inspection report is turned in and the termite report, I will have a meeting with my buyers to go over the findings and formulate a repair request. I have the buyers sign the repair request and send it off to the listing agent.
I attend all of my buyer client’s home inspections unless there are some extenuating circumstances. I also advise my buyer clients to show up typically an hour or 90 minutes after the home inspector gets started. This allows the inspector some time to look things over and run tests to see if everything is in working order before the buyer starts asking them a dozen questions. This tends to delay the inspection period and sometimes an inspector may have 3-4 homes to inspect in a day and they need to stay on schedule or they will have disgruntled clients later in the day. So I ask that they stay out of the home inspector’s hair until they have had ample time to give the house a one over so to speak.
In the meantime buyers usually always want another look at the home in order to take measurements or simply to have a more thorough walkthrough. At some point, the inspector will say that they have concluded the inspection and a meeting of the minds begins between the inspector, buyers and their agent.
This is a chance for the inspector to air out their concerns. During this process the buyers typically always have questions and it allows for the inspector to walk them through the home and show them what will be in the inspection report.
Therefore, before the buyers send a request for repairs to the seller, they should have had a chance to digest any issues with the home while they attended the home inspection and after they have reviewed the final report.
Now sometimes hearing about an issue from the home inspector’s mouth and reading it on paper could invoke two different emotions or reactions from buyers. Perhaps the way that the inspector puts the issue in words on paper could scare the buyers more about the issue.
However the content is received by the buyers, they need to decide what they are willing to accept about the home that they want to buy and what they want the seller to remedy via repairs or dollars out of their pockets. This is one of a few areas within an escrow where it could really go sideways.
The inspector may say that further inspection from a roofer or licensed contractor is needed. Even though this may be a standard way of the inspector writing about the condition of the roof, it could result in a roofing contractor’s bid of $2,000, $5,000 or $15,000 for an entirely new roof! So big-ticket items like roofs can sometimes kill a deal since the cost is more than the buyer or seller are willing to absorb or negotiate around.
Not only may the home inspector suggest further evaluation from a licensed professional but this could prompt both buyers and sellers to get a bid from their own favorite roofer. There is the potential for the home inspection report to say one thing and then roofing bid 1 and roofing bid 2 to say completely conflicting things. You can imagine how the waters could get muddied here really fast. This is where the negotiating and patience of your Realtor could really make or break a transaction.
I’m going to have a blog about home warranties at a later time but I wanted to show what First American Home Buyers Protection Corporation lists as the cost to repair and replace some items within a home. You can view their website at www.fahw.com Now their numbers were probably taken from some national averages so they may be skewed a bit depending on your location.
I want to highlight these figures because if you choose to not have a home inspection done these could be some costs that you incur after you purchase that you may need to come out of pocket for.
Oven/Range $663 $3,070
Water Heater $512 $1,465
Refrigerator $778 $2,486
Air Conditioning $494 $3,036
Plumbing $611 $1,605
Heating System $723 $3,157
Electrical System $387 $654
A few of those items have a price tag of over $3,000 if they need to be replaced. I don’t know many new homeowners who would be thrilled about an extra $3,000-$9,000 going out of their pockets soon after purchasing a home. Sometimes items appear to be working properly to the average untrained person but upon further evaluation by a professional, they may be unrepairable.
If you skimp on hiring a home inspector then there may be some sizable and unforeseen expenses down the road that an experienced home inspector would have been able to alert you about before the house is yours. This would allow you to negotiate with the seller to have them fix the issue, replace the problem item or give you a credit in escrow to deal with it yourself at a later time.
Isn’t it always nice knowing something well in advance rather than being surprised about it later, especially when it relates to your pocketbook?
Nobody appreciates a surprise that can drain their bank account. Now things can break all of the sudden and that is a topic for another blog in relation to home warranties as I expressed above but stuff breaking is all part of owning a home. If you can’t handle it or don’t have a plan when things break then maybe renting is the better option.
By all accounts, I cannot think of a time where I would not recommend having a home inspection done before purchasing a home. There are way too many advantages to purchasing a home inspection that outweighs the cost of spending $250-$350 on an inspection. It may even be better to have your escrow canceled due to the findings of the home inspection report than to not have an inspection done.
If you are looking for an experienced home inspector in the Fresno/Clovis area you can give me, Jason Nenadov, a call at 559-246-8991 and I’ll make sure to refer you to best home inspection specialist I know. If you want to see what homes are actively listed for sale in real time in the Fresno/Clovis area, visit my website!
In case you can not view this video here, please click the link below to view Home Inspections: Do You Need One-What to Expect and Could It Cancel Your Escrow on my YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/2QgNvySdBls.