After a home is under contract, the buyer typically has between 7-14 days to have the property inspected. During this time, the buyer can hire as many inspection vendors as they wish. Most buyers will opt for a basic home inspection report which typically costs between $375-$550 depending on the age, location, and size of the property, as well as a $60 termite inspection. Buyers may also opt to add additional inspections for radon, air quality, or lead-based paint. Heck, they can even have the feng shui analyzed if they wish. Additionally, the buyer may want to have specialists to look over unique items such as pools, chimneys, and flat roofs. Surveyors and structural engineer services may also be engaged. The buyer is always responsible for payment of inspections at the time they occur.
Once the reports are complete, the buyer has three options:
- Accept the property in As-Is condition and drop the inspection contingency. This is often the case with foreclosed homes and estate properties.
- Cancel the contract with a full reimbursement of all earnest money. If something unanticipated is uncovered during the inspection, the buyer may withdraw from negotiations at this point.
- Negotiate for specific repairs or for a change in contract terms based on inspection results. This is the most common outcome.
Words of Wisdom For Home Buyers
As a buyer, when you find your dream house, you’re usually okay when you notice small defects upon your own visual inspection. You can overlook the fact that the fridge doesn’t have a kick plate or that bathtub needs re-grouting. You won’t let these little things stop you from making an offer. But after a few intense rounds of pricing negotiations, you probably won’t be as flexible when the inspector’s report comes back with a big laundry list of items.
Keep in mind that you can only ask for repairs that show actual damage – not aesthetic issues like wall color or old carpet. Also, the inspector will compare the house to the standards and codes used in today’s building practices. If you are buying an older home, you can’t ask that the seller bring the house up to today’s codes. The home only has to be current as to the year it was built. You can ask for repairs, but not upgrades. I see this come up often with GFCI outlets. If the home was built in 1950, it probably won’t have GFCI protections near every water source. It also likely won’t have ground three-pronged outlets throughout the home.
Finally, be thorough when making repairs requests. Don’t ask the seller to “fix the fan in the bathroom.” Instead ask the seller to “clear all debris on air vent plate, replace missing screws, and ensure that the air is venting to the exterior of the home, not the attic.”
Words Of Wisdom For Home Sellers
We deal with inspection reports every day and nothing can kill a deal faster than the ill will that often results from a bad inspection. Some items might sound like a big deal when in reality it may only cost a few dollars to fix. As a seller, you can easily head problems off at the pass if you’ll tend to these small items before the inspector arrives. Here are a few recommendations:
Exterior Home Preparations
- Make sure all landscaping, mulch, and dirt are at least 8 inches from the siding. If not, re-grading may be needed. If less than 8 inches, it can be seen as inviting to termites and other insects.
- Ensure there are handrails installed on stairs, porches, or decks that are more than 36 inches off the ground. If the inspector doesn’t make note of this, the appraiser will. It’s a safety issue.
- Have you got peeling paint around your wood trim? This can be seen as a Lead-Based Paint safety risk. Make sure you check all windows, doors, and fascia for wood rot. This repair is typically easily completed by a handyman.
- Make sure your foundation doesn’t have any open invites to critters. Culprits could be a misshapen cellar door, a missing dryer vent cover, or loose circulation air vents.
- Do you have dirt in your crawl space? Consider adding black plastic sheathing for ground cover. It will make the space clean and inviting. It will discourage water intrusion. It may also help protect against radon emissions.
- Make sure your gutters are free of debris and that the water downspouts are charging out in the correct places. Downspout extenders are very cheap.
- Cracked window panes. This should be repaired before you even put the home on the market. Not only will the inspector make note, but the appraiser will require this repair before funding a loan.
Interior Home Preparations
- Old house? Make sure that none of your windows are painted shut. This can be a fire safety hazard.
- Missing switchplate covers. A simple and cheap fix.
- Missing junction box covers or incorrect electrical connections. This one will get you every time and the plastic boxes and covers cost pennies.
- Slow drains. Clean all shower and sink drains and ensure that the stoppers are working correctly.
- Replace all burnt out light bulbs. ALL of them.
- Double tapped breakers. This is a big fire concern.
Keep in mind that the inspector will ALWAYS find something. That’s his job after all and he’ll be examining every nook and cranny with a looking glass for 3-4 hours! But I promise the transaction will flow much more smoothly if you’ll knock these small items out when preparing for the home inspection. As a bonus, you can save a bit of cash because I can guarantee that if these items show up on the report, the buyer will ask that you use a “licensed and bonded repair person to make all repairs.” They will also ask for a receipt as proof of repairs.
Getting your home ready for market? Here are a few items you should be on the lookout for.