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The Buyer’s Guide to Home Inspections: Everything to Know

Are you looking at buying a home?

Buying a home is an exciting new chapter in your life whether it’s your first or your seventh. But it can also be a stressful one, with so many steps and processes along the way.

One of the most daunting can be the home inspection, which may have you feeling a little on edge. You might wonder how much does a home inspection cost? And how that process even happens.

But don’t worry, it shouldn’t! Keep reading for this buyer’s guide to home inspections to help you know what to expect.

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What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is the report a home inspector puts together as an evaluation of a property. This should give buyers an unbiased opinion based on professional knowledge. It should cover any identified issues with the house to inform their decision on whether to buy or not.

Home inspections usually happen under contract. This means you’ve put an offer in and the seller has accepted it. You have a set amount of time to have this inspection done, go over the results, and decide if you want to go ahead.

The amount of time you have is usually a week to 10 days but this can vary. In most contracts, you can back out of the deal without a financial penalty if costly issues with the home come up.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

For a basic home inspection, you’re looking at around $300-$500. This might seem pricy, but it could end up saving you a lot of money further down the line. It could help you avoid a financial disaster, being stuck with a property that has major issues.

[Related: Buying Foreclosed Properties in Washington State]

How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

To do the whole inspection, you’re looking at around 3 hours for a normal family home. Of course, this will vary depending on the size of the house and its general age and state of repair.

Do You Need to Be There?

It’s a good idea to stick around while the inspector does their work. If you can’t, then arrange for your real estate agent to be there on your behalf. It’s a good time to learn about your home and the systems within it.

If you have any questions, ask them, but make sure to keep out from under the inspector’s feet. You need to let them get on with their job.

Before the inspection, you’ll get a disclosure statement from the seller. This is their opportunity to tell you what issues the inspector might find and be upfront about it.

You can use this to decide what things you want your inspector to be extra thorough about. They can find out how bad the issue is and if it’s as described by the seller.

[Related: 15 Essential Questions to Ask When Buying a Home]

What Home Inspections Cover

The inspector will do a visual inspection of the property. Here is a list of what any good home inspection checklist should include:

  • Heating systems
  • Air Conditioning System
  • Interior electrics and wiring
  • Interior plumbing
  • Visible insulation, attics, and roofs
  • Floors, ceilings, and walls
  • Doors and windows
  • Basements and foundations
  • Structural elements

Your inspector will go through these home inspection elements. They’ll write a thorough report for you to look at.

One of the benefits of home inspections is they flag up issues a seller might have not known about or neglected to disclose. They’ll also tell you the extend of those issues and in some cases the likely cost of the repairs.

You’ll need to factor those costs into your budget and the overall cost of homeownership. It could change whether you can afford the property or not. Even if you can, you need to work out if you have the time to do the repairs, and want the extra stress.

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Hiring a Home Inspector

It’s your responsibility to find and hire your inspector. Start by asking your real estate agent if they have any recommendations. Your friends and family might also have a good inspector they could put you in contact with.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has a search tool to find an inspector as well. It’s best to stay local and pick one familiar with your area. It’s also better if they’re experienced with the type of property, like a fixer-upper or a condo.

Bear in mind that not every state will need an inspector’s certification. As such, make sure you check through their training and accreditation. You want someone who knows their stuff, so find out if your state does need licensing. If so, make sure the inspector has it.

Another sign of a good home inspector is any certifications from ASHI. Some even have them from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. These are signs of a very well-trained inspector.

Make sure you interview the inspectors you consider too. Ask what they’ll include in the report, make sure they’re covering all the basics. How long do they take, will they walk on roofs? Are they willing to arrange an inspection on a day that suits you?

You should hire a flexible inspector who is happy for you to be there when they do the inspection. They should be open, up-front, and honest with your questions. They should also be open to going through the report to help you understand something you’re not sure about.

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What Do You Do With the Inspector’s Report?

This is only a guide, and it’s up to you what you do with that information. Here are some of the options you can take:

  • Go ahead with the sale
  • Ask the seller to make certain fixes
  • Renegotiate the price so you can afford to fix issues yourself
  • Pull out of the sale and walk away

Your real estate agent can help you decide what to do if you’re not sure. If all the issues are minor, this isn’t out of the ordinary, so it might be best to proceed forward.

If you do have the seller make repairs, get your inspector to sign off on them. For major repairs that you can make an agreement with the seller on it’s best to walk away and look for a new property.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?: And So Much More

So, there you have it! Now you know the answer to “how much does a home inspection cost?” and so much more.

Home inspections are a vital guide so you can make an informed decision on a home. It’s a huge financial investment, and you have to be sure it’s the right choice and property. Don’t underestimate how important a home inspection can be.

[Related: Important Tips for Millennial Homebuyers]

If you’re looking for more information on what to expect with buying a home, check out our blog  and online resources for more. Seattle Mortgage Planners has tips on everything from finding a mortgage to choosing the right home for you.

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