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You found your home. It’s the one with the perfect layout, great neighborhood, big backyard and the hardwood floors you’ve been dreaming of. It has your seal of approval, and now it’s time for the professional once-over. But getting a home inspection doesn’t have to feel like you’re a contestant on a game show—if you know what to expect, you won’t be surprised.
Believe it or not, getting a home inspection is a GREAT thing. It allows you to get to know more about the house before you buy it, ask the seller for concessions if something needs fixed, and in some cases, uncovers an issue you don’t want to get stuck with.
If everything is perfect in your inspection, you’re good to go. If not, you may have questions about what can be fixed and what can’t. So let’s walk through each result — and at the end, know more about what’s manageable or, in the rare cases, when it’s time to walk away.
Let’s get this out of the way — a home inspection is important. (And sometimes even required.) It’s your one chance to get a professional opinion of the condition of your home before you buy. These pros know exactly what they’re looking for, and what might look normal to you and me could be a glaring error to them. Trust them.
“Our inspector was really great about setting expectations. He said ‘My goal is to spot EVERYTHING wrong with the house—from okay to terrible.’ A good inspector will tell you how dramatic the changes will be to make and could be as simple as ‘this feels a little loose. All you need are some clamps and a caulking gun to fix it.’”
You wouldn’t buy a used car without first making sure it starts, right? Purchasing a home is an even bigger deal, so getting a home inspection, like taking a test drive, is a no-brainer. In fact, 99% of realtors recommend it.
Before you schedule an inspection, there are a few things to keep things in mind.
Congratulations, your home inspection came back without a hitch. You should probably go buy a lottery ticket. For any home that’s been lived in, a home inspection will likely turn up at least a few issues. Speaking of…door #2.
We assume if you’ve had your inspection and everything was awesome, you wouldn’t be here. But it bares repeating — few homes are 100% perfect. Some easy fixes could be missing light switch covers, or loose door knobs and chipping paint.
These seem like minor issues, but when you’re hit with a dozen of them all at once, they can seem like a lot. Take a deep breath and remember you’re buying a house that will be yours for years to come. Little issues like this? They can be fixed before you move in, later down the road, or even before the appraiser goes out (depending on your loan program).
“I have had SO MANY clients that get scared after an inspection on a newly renovated house and want to walk away because they are surprised. However, clients that go into the inspection expecting some issues are the ones who usually fair better, and take the small steps needed to fix the blemishes or negotiate with the seller’s agent when needed.”
What about when the problems go deeper? A bad septic system.(Eeek.) Leaking roof. (Ooof.) Or a failing foundation. (Yikes.) These are all substantial defects that need to be fixed quickly, and can be costly to correct. They’re most certainly serious, BUT they aren’t always a deal breaker. For example:
“We recently bought a house that had a failing HVAC system. Our inspector said it would need replaced in the next year and would cost $15,000. Bleh. It was news no one wanted to hear, but we knew our budget and we were already getting a good deal on the house. We asked the seller for a concession and they gave us a few thousand dollars to take the sting out. In the end, it turned out just fine. Plus, with a new system, we won’t have to worry about it anytime soon, if ever.”
In many cases, you can work with your realtor and the seller’s agent to come to an arrangement on major and necessary repairs. Many sellers are reasonable and in some cases didn’t know the extent of their repairs. Just take your time, hire a professional if you need to get an estimate, and take the process step by step.
If you’ve tried asking for seller concessions and you still want to buy the house, it might be worth looking into a renovation loan. This will allow you to finance your repairs, make them before you move in, and potentially increase the value of your home at the same time.
Most importantly, reach out! Ask your loan advisor, real estate agent or inspector. We all help people buy houses every day and have seen our fair share of inspections. If you don’t know where to go, we’ll point you in the right direction.
See? No guessing games or surprise doors. Just know what to expect and follow the tips, and your home inspection won’t feel like a game show at all. And in the end, you get the house of your dreams.
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