Last summer, we wrote about general home inspection tips. We've decided to take it further this Summer by providing more tips for buyers regarding home inspections, since more home sales are subject to home inspections before closing. So here we go!

Inspector and home buyer check behind insulation to see leakage issue.

Hire a Proper Inspector

Inspector checking natural gas system on exterior of home.

Getting a friend or family member who knows a lot about houses to come in and check the house you're looking at can be tempting. They're close (usually), you trust them and the whole thing is informal. Even if they do possess a great working knowledge about homes, they don't know everything. That's not an insult to Uncle Greg, it's just a fact of life. Please do the right thing and hire a certified home inspector. These are people that have made an entire career of knowing how home systems should be running, what problems to look for and what systems should be revisited in a few years' time. Certification is there for a reason! Tempered with experience, your inspector will have a deep understanding of the region, soil, pests and home builders too. Yes, this costs money. Yes, this will take a larger chunk of time to complete. But, it is SO worth it.

It's Not a Pass or Fail Situation

a road sign depicting only two choices: pass or fail.

It's common for buyers out there to hear the phrase, "if it passes home inspection." This indicates a pass or fail scenario; a test. Inspections aren't a test, but an assessment of existing systems. Home inspectors are paid to find things, from small to medium to large. It is their job to make note of everything in a home that was, is and could be a problem. It is up to you, the buyer, to take that information and decide how to proceed with the home sale. For example, let's say the inspector finds that a window in one of the bedrooms has a faulty seal. This isn't a large enough problem that you can take back to the sellers in order to negotiate price, nor does it make the home "fail" inspection. But, let's say the inspector finds something a bit more serious, like the home having all aluminum wiring instead of copper. Some home builders in the '60s and '70s cheaped out on wiring, using aluminum instead of the copper standard. Electrical connections using aluminum can loosen over time, causing arcs. These arcs can lead to overheating and fires at switches, outlets and even the breaker panel. This issue doesn't necessarily mean that you should condemn it and then move on. It's up to you to decide how to proceed. You can bring this issue up to the sellers, who may have or may not have known about it, in order to negotiate price (since it's a fair chunk of money to fix). Or, if this cost is too much money or time for you to deal with, you can decide to move on. In mainstream terminology, this home failed inspection. In real terms, the inspection highlighted a major issue that needs to be taken care of.

Show Up

A home inspector and home buyer going over a home's list of issues.

This is something we mentioned in the previous blog article about home inspections, and for good reason! Most folks don't make a concerted effort to attend home inspections, since inspectors provide comprehensive reports. Just because they provide an in-depth report doesn't mean that you should forgo the real event. Put it this way: if you had to learn a topic, would you rather read about it or have someone teach you about it? Sure reading gives the same information, but a teacher helps you understand that topic in a way that reading cannot cover. The same principle applies here. Go to your home inspection. The written report given to you after will serve to jog your memory about what you went over in person.

Ask Questions

a hand is raised above a person's head, indicating that they have a question they want to ask.

Most inspection appointments take around an hour to complete. There can be a lot of things to go over, or only a few that require more time to look at. In any case, if you're present for the appointment, ask questions! This is another thing that reports don't allow to do. Don't be afraid to stop your inspector and ask them questions if you aren't on the same level with them. You can even ask them for advice on any fixes, their cost, their level of difficulty and the amount of time those fixes can take if you fix it yourself.

Make Your Own Notes

4 brightly coloured, blank sticky notes are stuck on a blue wall.

Keep a running tally of costs as you walk-through the home with your inspector. Sometimes, an inspection will have lots of little things - a list of those separated costs can help you determine what to go forward with first. Other times, an inspection can have one or two things, but they could be major - a note will help you remember that the fix is a much higher price. This is important for both your budget, and price negotiations.

Use Your Realtor's Skill

A real estate agent going over a house contract with interested buyers.

Like the point above, an inspection can highlight one or a couple of major issues. Major issues are determined by their danger level and cost to remedy. You can use your Realtor's negotiation skills at this point. They can negotiate a cheaper price for the home you're looking at buying, since you're already looking at fixing/budgeting for that issue. This can be a "grey area", and is why using your Realtor to negotiate is a wise idea. They've got the know-how and experience to do so. It's not always up to the sellers to fix or to drop their price as a result of any problems found in the home inspection. Perhaps the sellers knew about it, and priced the home accordingly. Maybe it's just a problem that comes with buying an older home. Your Century 21 Realtor will be able to evaluate if these issues require a drop in price for the sale to go forward, but it's important for buyers to know, this is an option. Be aware this is a path you can go down if large, unexpected things are brought to your attention.

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