After you find the home you like, and your offer to purchase is accepted, your real estate agent will talk to you about your home inspection. This is typically scheduled as quickly as possible. Attorney Mortgage recommends a home inspection as this will help ensure that there are no major problems with your new home.
If the market is competitive, you may think waiving an inspection will help you strengthen an offer. But some issues could be hiding beneath the surface, and being aware of any potential repair or replacements could factor into negotiations with the seller, and help you understand what is needed to keep your future home in tiptop condition.
“Most houses have things that need to be addressed,” says Rich Baker, owner of New Hampshire-based Baker Home Inspections, Inc. “The question is, what are those things, and does the prospective buyer know about them and understand?”
What Is a Home Inspector?
A home inspector is certified to look at a home’s systems and determine if they operate as they should. Plumbing, electrical, heating and other mechanicals will be observed, and the home inspector will check the structure of the home from the foundation to the roof. The home inspector may offer other facets of home inspection at an additional cost, such as radon measurements, or water testing.
A home inspector looks at all the major components of a house, noting structure, function, and safety. For example, an inspector will look at the parts of the roof – the flashing, the chimney, the shingles – for any possible issues. From the outside, the inspector will observe windows, foundation, siding, etc. From the inside, the home inspector looks at components such as doors, foundation, flooring structure, walls, ceilings, etc. The inspection will include all the systems that are part of the house, including heating, electrical, plumbing, and even appliances such as stoves and refrigerators.
The home inspector is not responsible for fixing any issues, and is not able to offer opinions on how long a system will last in its present state, or how much it might cost for repairs. Their job is to take note of the condition of the house and point out any potential problems to you. Your agent and Attorney Mortgage team up to help you understand the process and take steps to negotiate solutions.
“When someone plans to purchase a house, their general focus is on whether they like the house – is it big enough, does the layout fits their needs, etc.,” says Baker. “The details of its condition can get lost in the shuffle. If they walk by a deck and it is falling down, that is going to stand out to them. But other things may not be noticed, and could be an indication of something else going on.”
Home inspection reports can be lengthy, with up to 70 pages of information about the house. Sometimes potential homebuyers are overwhelmed by the size of the report, and might assume that the house is in disrepair. This isn’t necessarily true. An in-depth home inspection report outlines the overall health of the house, and the home inspector can help you understand the observations he made.
Baker says it is helpful if the potential home buyer can be on-site during the inspection, so they can see and understand any issues. The report becomes a big book of things that may need to be done at some point in the future, or outlines certain issues that can be brought up to the seller for negotiation. For instance, if the home inspector finds a corroded pipe under the bathroom sink, or the chimney is in need of a cleaning, your agent could ask the sellers to resolve those problems before the closing date.
How To Choose a Home Inspector
Home inspectors have different backgrounds that they bring to the home inspection profession. Some have experience in certain areas of a home, such as plumbing, electrical, or roofing, and their view of those specifics may vary. “My brother is a high-end custom cabinet maker. If he were to become a home inspector, he would be looking at it from the perspective of a high-end custom cabinet maker,” says Baker. “How many houses would live up to his expectations? His focus would be in craftsmanship as well as structure, function, and safety. A home inspector is a generalist. They need to have knowledge and an understanding and experience of the house as a system, rather than being a specialist in a particular area.”
Baker is a member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, or INTERNACHI. This organization provides training and certification for home inspectors. Every state has its own requirements for licensing or certification. However, notes Baker, classroom learning should only be used as an extension of the home inspector’s knowledge. “It’s difficult for someone who doesn’t have experience to help put things in perspective.”
Attorney Mortgage is available to help you through your lending process and offer information on home inspectors in your area. Talk to your real estate agent and people you know who have used home inspection services. Ask home inspectors about their background or experience.
Knowing the Language of Home Ownership
“When people are looking for a home inspector, there is a feeling of pressure, and often a client will choose the first inspector who answers their phone,” says Baker. “’I think an inordinate amount of weight is put on online reviews. But a big part of the home inspection is not just the qualifications of the home inspector, but also their ability to deliver the information in a way that is more digestible to the average consumer. If someone has a question about the report, how readily can they talk to that inspector?”
Baker says that the home inspector should be ready to not only offer the results of the inspection, but to present it in a way the new home buyer can understand. “There is a lingo in that profession, and it is very easy to get lost in that lingo, thinking that everyone knows what you mean,” he says. “I have made a conscious effort to describe things in a way that even someone who has never seen a screwdriver would still know what I am talking about.”
If you are a newly degreed attorney, an established attorney looking for a home, or if you are ready to refinance your home, Attorney Mortgage can help you navigate the loan process. Begin to build long-term wealth and create financial flexibility through home ownership today. Contact us or call (816) 456-7478.
Ready to find out more?
If you are a newly degreed attorney, an established attorney looking for a first home, or if you are ready to re-finance your home, Attorney Mortgage can help you navigate the loan process. Contact us or call (816) 860-1686.