Buying a Home - Appraisal

Home Inspections: Never Buy a House Without One

January 14, 2008 - Having a professional home inspection is an essential pre-requisite of buying a home.  Anyone confident in closing escrow without having a thorough inspection completed by a professional inspector is foolishly putting their investment at risk.  Passing inspection should be a sale contingency noted in the purchase contract in a buyer's market and in a seller's market you may be asked to purchase a home “as is” which should alert you to the possibility that you need a home inspection to be certain there are not any critical repairs to be made which would deter you from continuing with the purchase transaction or which could impact your purchase price.  The two most common inspections requested are termite and general home inspections and they are also the two most critical bare bones inspections you should complete before proceeding with the closing.  Most frequently inspections are requested and performed for existing home sales but a developing trend has been having inspections performed on newly constructed homes as well because they can be both informative and useful while the house is being built before the builder's home warranty protection expires. 

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Completing a general home inspection is comparable to the process of going to a physician to have an annual physical.  A general inspection is not performed by someone who is an expert in every facet of a property, an analogy similar to that of the general medical practitioner vs. the medical specialist.  General inspections can range in price but typically begin at around $300, an amount similar to that of the appraisal inspection fee.  In just a few hours the general inspector will typically examine all of the home's critical systems including: roofing, flooring, plumbing, heating and cooling as well as any electrical and built in appliances in the home.  A termite inspection will normally start around $50 and in addition to looking for pest infestation the inspector will also be looking for wood rot, excess moisture as well as wood/earth contact.  After the general inspection is complete, a home buyer may want to have an additional inspection performed by a specialist if the findings of the general inspection warrant it.  Buyers may want to proceed with requesting an environmental inspection which covers a number of potential land perils including: radon-gas exposure, proximity to fault lines and fissures as well as any hazards from toxic waste sites and any nearby public facilities.  Other specific inspections which may be considered also include: asbestos, lead-based paint, the detection of mold or close examination of the condition of the pool and spa areas.  


When Seeking Out a Professional Inspector or Inspection Company, Look for the Following:

  • An inspector who is certified by the state is held to a higher standard and therefore has a greater degree of accountability. 
  • Determine whether the inspection company has membership in any national or state associations as well any special training and certification programs which may be required as a condition of membership as well as mandatory compliance with the latest industry standards and practices. 
  • Determine which components of the property require the most attention and select your inspector accordingly based upon the area of expertise you are seeking. 
  • Review a sample inspection report produced by the particular inspection company to verify the format is easy and clear to follow and clarify which items are to be inspected in the scope of your particular inspection.
  • Inquire about the inspection company's policy in dealing with overlooked or undetected problems.  Does the company have insurance to protect both you and them in such cases or do they require you to sign a liability waiver protecting them in the event of their mistakes and errors?
  • Request references and be certain to speak with clients who have resided in their homes for a sufficient period of time for any post-inspection problems to have been revealed.  

Nancy Osborne, Nancy Osborne has had experience in the mortgage business for over 20 years and is a founder of both ERATE, where she is currently the COO and Progressive Capital Funding, where she served as President. She has held real estate licenses in several states and has received both the national Certified Mortgage Consultant and Certified Residential Mortgage Specialist designations. Ms. Osborne is also a primary contributing writer and content developer for ERATE.

"I am addicted to Bloomberg TV" says Nancy.

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