A home inspection is a crucial element of any home purchase. Most buyers make their purchase offer contingent on the results of a home inspection so they can decide not to buy if the inspection reveals significant structural problems. In a market with heavy competition for homes, buyers sometimes waive the home-inspection contingency to make their offer more appealing to the sellers. Even in those circumstances, it’s advisable to schedule an “information-only” inspection so you know what you’re buying.
Your home inspection can cost between $300 and $500, depending on where you live and the size of the property you’re having inspected. It’s worth spending a few hundred dollars to learn about the potential pitfalls of your future home.
What to expect from your home inspector
Your Realtor can recommend a home inspector, but you may also want to get recommendations from your lender and an attorney. Check out each home inspector’s credentials and reputation online and ask how many inspections each has completed. Most home inspectors will provide a written report after the inspection, but you should ask to see a sample report and how long it will take until you receive your report before choosing your inspector.
Prep for your inspection
You should always attend the inspection since this is your opportunity to learn about how to take care of your home.
Before your inspection look over the interior and exterior of the property for potential problems and areas you would like the inspector to review carefully, such as dark spots in the basement or underneath the bathroom sinks that could be water damage. Depending on the rules in your area, the seller may be required to disclose known defects in the home. Ask the seller’s agent, your buyer’s agent, and even the neighbors if they know about any issues with that house or others in the community — such as basements that flood.
Prepare a list of questions for the inspector and bring a notebook or tablet so you can take notes.
What to do during your inspection
While your inspector is looking for major issues such as a foundation problem, a leaky roof or mold, you should also use the hours of your inspection to learn how to take care of the home and its systems. Find out where the water shut-off valve is and ask for advice on how to maintain the property. Most home inspectors can tell you the life expectancy of your appliances so you can avoid being surprised when it’s time to replace the water heater. A good inspector will also point out small repairs you should make after you move into the property.
If the inspector finds a major problem with the home you intend to buy, you’ll need to consult with your Realtor and review your contract to decide how to handle the problem. Depending on what the inspection reveals, you may want to pull out of the deal or request that the sellers address the issue. You, the sellers and your agents can negotiate whether you want the sellers to fix a problem, give you a credit at settlement, or cash to make the repairs after you move in.
A good home inspection should do more than look for flaws, it should prepare you for homeownership.
If you have any questions about home inspections, give us a call, text or email. We are happy to answer your real estate related questions!
-Steve and Sandra
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Using the home inspection contingency, must a buyer hire a licensed inspector or can the buyer have a friend or relative, who is a contractor, perform the inspection for the buyer? Aren't there some exemptions to this licensing requirement? If not, what should the broker do when the buyer announces that the buyer intends to bring an unlicensed person to conduct the whole home inspection?
A buyer can personally conduct their own inspection of the home and property. If the buyer personally conducts the buyer's inspection, then the buyer is not required to have a license.
Any other person who conducts a home inspection, other than the buyer personally, must have a home inspector's license. A buyer's friend or relative who has a contractor's license or who used to be an inspector or who has "done a lot of buying and selling" is prohibited, by law, from inspecting the seller's home. There are no exceptions in the law that allow a person of this general type, to conduct the inspection for the buyer. The referenced law is RCW 18.280.010(6) and .020.
The law will allow certain other licensed professionals to participate in the home inspection process within the limitations of their professional license. (RCW 18.280.170) For example, licensed engineers, architects, electricians, plumbers, structural pest inspectors and certified real estate appraisers can each participate within the home inspection process as limited by their own license. An electrician may inspect the electrical panel but would be prohibited from inspecting the roof. A plumber may be able to inspect the water and waste lines but be prohibited from determining whether a home is properly ventilated.
Simply put, there are no categorical exemptions to the requirement that any third party who conducts a home inspection must have a Washington State Home Inspector's license. Said differently, any person who conducts a whole home inspection, other than the buyer personally, must have a Home Inspector's License.
In most cases, the buyer cannot gain access to the seller's home for an inspection except with the assistance of either the buyer or seller's broker. If the buyer announces an intention to bring an unlicensed inspector through the seller's home, the broker should not provide access to the buyer for that unlicensed inspection. Brokers should not assist unlicensed inspectors to violate the law by providing access to those unlicensed inspectors. Brokers should simply have a policy, across the board, refusing to allow access to "inspectors" unless the inspector satisfies the licensing law requirements discussed in this answer.
Do you have more questions about home inspections? Give us a call, text or email. We would be happy to answer any of your home purchase or sale related questions!
-Steve and Sandra
Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
122502 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
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No matter how you slice it, buying real estate is a complicated process that takes time and hard work to get right. Whether you’re looking for your dream home or an investment property to help build your retirement nest egg, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Mortgage interest rates are still low
Mortgage rates have bumped up a little lately, but they are still low by historical standards. Many people have stopped chasing their dream home or investment property because of the recent rate increases, but they’re making a huge mistake. Rates will likely head even higher over the next few years, and you’re going to kick yourself for failing to secure a 30-year fixed interest rate loan before those even higher rates kick in.
It sounds cliche, but real estate is buyer beware
Your real estate agent can guide you to make a smart purchase, but it’s your job to make every decision and do all the analysis that goes along with purchasing property. You’ve got to make sure it is a smart financial move to buy the property. You’ve got to review the title documents, mortgage loan documents and disclosures, homeowners association docs, home inspection reports, seller disclosures, etc. Each document contains important information that you need to understand to avoid problem properties. It’s a real challenge, but you must do the hard work needed to reduce your risk.
You should never buy a property that you don’t love
If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. Real estate is likely the most expensive and complicated purchase you will ever make. So don’t buy a property if it isn’t a great fit for what you want. Don’t buy if your attitude is “we just want to get something even though this isn’t a perfect property for us.” Note: No property is perfect — especially not at the price you’d like to pay — so be realistic when determining which property you “love.”
Shop properties for at least 4 to 12 months
Take your time. Look at dozens of properties. Drive the areas you like during the day, night and on weekend. Talk to neighbors. You’re probably risking your entire net worth when purchasing property, so make sure you are adequately educated on what you are buying — and that takes time!
When you are ready to purchase or sell a home, give us a call, we can guide you through every stage of the home buying and selling process.