Tips for Working with a Home Inspector

With so many foreclosures on the market (in various states of repair) and lenders requiring higher down payments, buyers go into the inspection looking for confirmation that they’re getting a good value.  Anticipation of the home-inspection report is one of the more nerve-racking elements of a real estate sale.  The following tips might help reduce some of the stress.

Review the inspector’s contract up front.  Most contracts contain standard terms describing services and limiting liability (typically to the price of the inspector’s fees).

Study the final report with your agent.  Inspectors should put their observations in writing and provide photos of specific areas of concern.  Reconcile the report with the seller’s disclosure statement.

You may need a specialist.  Be prepared to bring in a specialized expert when an inspector finds a red flag.  You should get estimates for needed repairs and decide what you’d like the sellers to fix or offer as credit.

Discourage seller participation.  It is best that the seller not be present for your inspection.  If they insist, ask that their agent attend instead.  The sellers will receive a copy of the report with the Inspection Contingency Removal Amendment and can address any issues with their agent at that point.

Shadow the inspector.  Thorough inspections cover major systems – electrical, plumbing, roofing, HVAC, and more.  Although inspectors look for things that represent significant deficiencies that are not in view, they cannot pull up carpet or look for hidden defects in walls without the sellers’ permission.  Inspectors will also point out systems and provide buyers with guidance on how to maintain them so all buyers on the contract should be in attendance for this useful and necessary information.

Understand options if the inspector misses a major visible defect.  Many inspectors carry errors-and-omissions insurance, but their contracts often limit their liability to a refund of the fee.  Unless the defect is so blatant that they might be deemed grossly negligent for having missed it, they will rarely pay for needed repairs.

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