So you’ve put in an offer and the sellers have accepted. Congrats! Go ahead and take a moment to celebrate, but you’re not out of the weeds just yet. While this is a huge first step in your home buying adventure, it’s only one of part of the complete puzzle.
While getting your deposit money wired to the escrow agent, you’ll have a short period of time where you will be responsible to get all of your home inspections completed, and you have to do them quickly. During this time, it’s important that these inspections are done to make sure the house is in as good condition as you presumed, or to learn of what repairs may be needed. Having the inspections done is simple but what can be discovered during the process, for a first time home buyer, can become overwhelming and leave you with a case of the “Home Inspection Blues”.
Inspections and requirements are different from state-to-state and even counties. In some cases, like if you’re purchasing a house out-right with no bank loan, you may not be required to have an inspection. If you are getting a loan from a bank, they most likely will require inspections to make sure both party’s investments are worth it.
Generally speaking, home inspectors will be looking for anything that doesn’t match the house records on file, things that are broken, outdated, hazardous, not up to code and anything that is seemingly odd. The goal is to gain as much knowledge of the home in a quick amount of time with their professional eyes and experiences.
Inspectors will conduct tests on all appliances (to be included in the sale) to make sure they’re working properly. They will investigate the functions of all light switches and outlets to make sure they are wired correctly with a proper ground. Windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, the roof, attic, basement, crawl spaces and exteriors will be thoroughly looked at for signs of water damage, cracks, termites and mold. Electrical, plumbing, cooling and heating will be tested to make sure nothing is defective. Even the property, fences, retaining walls, driveways and walkways will be observed.
So, by know you probably get the gist that the inspectors essentially go through the entire shebang with a fine toothed comb looking for anything that you as a buyer should be aware of.
While they are extremely knowledgeable and have a keen eye, inspectors are not, with all due respect, specialists on everything. Their job is to observe, take notes and make recommendations. If they’ve done their job correctly, you will receive pages upon pages of notes on every aspect of the home, good and/or bad, and if done properly, every major or minor issue will be pointed out in those pages. This is when the “Home Inspection Blues” can really start to kick in.
Based on their findings, an inspector may suggest additional attention from specialists on specific matters. For example, if they see what may be signs of mold, they may suggest having mold removal professionals take a further look. Or if they see signs of termites, they may propose a termite professional to discuss your options before you move forward with the purchase.
Different states, cities and counties may also require additional inspections to be performed. For example, in Los Angeles County, California, residents are responsible for the plumbing connection from their house to the municipal sewer lines, that in which requires another visit by plumbing professionals that was not included with the general home inspection.
When having inspections done on our home before we purchased it, the inspection report turned over way more notes than we had anticipated. During the bidding process, we found ourselves in a bidding war with a couple other hopeful buyers. We ended up going over our budget because we fell in love with the house and felt like it was worth it.
On top of having spent more than we wanted..
..we are now paying for an inspector to tell us all of the issues with the house that we had been oblivious to prior. Additional inspections were needed for a closer look at plumbing which then required a clearing and reconditioning procedure to be done from the house to the street. There were signs of potential termite damage under the house, so more professional visits were needed to treat and repair specific areas.
You can imagine the stress, physically, emotionally and monetarily, but on top of inspection results, you now have to decide how to proceed with your offer. Do you try to negotiate a credit for some of the findings? You can, but if the seller’s price is honestly fair for the market, don’t expect them to budge. You may be successful negotiating credits for major findings that the seller may be unaware of, but be wary if attempting to nickel and dime them, especially if there are other offers on the table. In the long run, you will have to think about the big picture and decide if the house is still worth it to you. There is an upside that can help ease the “Home Inspection Blues,” which is not everything needs to be fixed immediately.
…not everything needs to be fixed immediately.
Things that are mandated by law or make you feel unsafe should be repaired as fast as possible, but everything else can be done slowly over time. This tip should help to soften the “Home Inspection Blues” and soften the blows to your precious, and in most cases, exhausted piggy bank.