Home Inspection: for Buyers

When do you need them, what to look out for,
how much do they cost, who pays for them?

The When:

The Home Inspection process is one of the first things that happen once you enter into a sales contract. If you're buying a home, or just about to enter into a real estate Purchase Contract: you should make sure to order an inspection of the property as soon as your offer is accepted by the seller. If you are working with a real estate agent, have this discussion with them. Most real estate contracts have a blank "_______" space to fill in for the number of days the buyer has to get the inspection done, after the contract is fully executed (signed by seller/buyer). And often, the contract specifies that if it is left blank, the buyer has 15 days. Is this good? Sounds like it, because it gives the buyer more time to search around and get an inspector.

But consider this:  what if the property you are putting an offer in on ends up getting MULTIPLE offers? What if the Purchase Amount is the same? How do you get your offer to the TOP of that pile of offers?  Tell the seller that you'll get the inspection done with SEVEN or TEN days!!  Why? Because the seller doesn't want to wait around unnecessarily while the buyer googles and searches and finally gets an inspection done and weeks later decides they don't like the results and wants to cancel the contract. And certainly, if the results aren't to the buyer's liking, the contract they use may stipulate they can cancel the contract without any penalty (most likely). So offer NOT to tie up the seller necessarily!  And you're also making sure you aren't wasting your time either! We recommend seeking out an inspection company ahead of putting any offers in on a property. This way, as soon as your offer is accepted you can order the Inspection and have it done within a few days.

The What:

As the buyer, what do you look for from the Home Inspection report? The good news is that these reports can be very lengthy and will attach real-life estimates to most anything they see wrong with the property. For instance, a very common item within Inspection Reports is a missing GFCI outlet (often in a kitchen). Electrical outlets and if GCFI have to do with local codes. If there aren't enough of them, the inspector will add it to the report and assign a basic estimate for the cost of having an electrician come out and install one.

The Report will include each of the components and systems of the property including:

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Appliances
  • Interior (walls, floors, balconies, stairs etc)
  • AC/Heating

A word of advice: if you are handy at all, or if you have family members or friends that are handy, make sure to share the results of any Inspection Reports with them. OFTENTIMES the Inspection Report will assign repair estimates that are designed to give you an idea of the cost. However, in almost every situation, you can get these things done MUCH MUCH cheaper. Also, the items on the report that the inspector includes will most likely not be things that are required by law to have fixed or repaired, or are actually so cheap and easy to fix yourself, that it should NOT be a deterrent for a buyer to buy the property!

For instance, there are two electrical outlets in the house that aren't working. The Inspection Report will likely estimate the repair cost to be $75 (electrical trip fee to show up) plus another $50 for time, supplies. However, you may want to consider doing a little DO IT YOURSELF REPAIR WORK and replace those electrical outlet yourself! They can be purchased at an ACE Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe's etc for under $2.00. And there are tons of youtube videos on how to easily and quickly replace them yourself. So don't let the results of these inspections scare you! Make sure to have friends, family look at them and get other opinions on who can help fix what repairs, and for how much.

Looking for a Home Inspection Company
in Miami/Broward area? Click here:

HOWEVER... IF there's some troubling results within the home inspection report like a bad roof that needs replacement soon... know that will most likely cost you many thousands of dollars. That may be something you'll want to try to negotiate the purchase price with: "hey seller, you need a new $15k roof... let's knock off $14k off the purchase price". Or, depending on the Purchase Contract you are using, you could most likely simply cancel the contract if you aren't interested in adopting that or any other significant impending needed repairs.

The Cost:

Home Inspections costs are normally based on the square footage of the property, type of property and location of the property. The average price range is anywhere from $250-$400 for an average sized condo, townhome or single family home. Commercial property is generally more. And larger luxury homes will be more. The more space and components to inspect, the higher the cost for the report.

Who pays?

Depending on the location of the property... most places in the US make the Inspection Report a buyer expense. Why is this a good thing? Because the buyer owns the report. If the results come back perfect, they don't need to share it with the seller. And if the results come back with some big expenses or concerns, the report can be used as a negotiating tool, or to use to cancel the contract and step away completely. The inspection report is not required to be shared with the seller or seller's agent.

  • Depending on your purchase contract, you may only have a small window (usually 10-15 days) to get out of the contract IF something is found to be really wrong with the property to a point where you no longer want to buy it!
  • It can take anywhere from two days to a week or more to get a confirmed appointment for your inspection, depending on the company you want to hire.
  • Even if you want to buy the property no matter what, you should take the opportunity to find out what needs/repairs you'll be met with once you close and are handed the keys! Home inspections include not only items in need of addressing/repair... many companies also provide an estimate for that type of repair. A great thing to add into your budget-
  • Home Inspectors normally have a background in construction and are up on current Miami-Dade codes. They have a broad knowledge of the inner-workings of the property and can answer lots of questions or concerns. The report will be pages long and extensive, and could be useful long after your closing.

Does the Buyer need to be present at the Home Inspection?

No, but it is HIGHLY recommended that you be present. If you can't be there, send your Realtor or a family member or friend. Take notes, ask questions!

Buying property is a huge investment. Spending $200-$500 on the Inspection is well worth the money.
Know what you are purchasing, keep the report for future reference.

View a Sample Home Inspection Report from homegauge.com here:

How to Pick the Right Home Inspection Company for you:

There are many. But there are some differences that set some companies apart from their competition. Depending on what's most important to you... here are some questions to ask:

  1. Cost for basic inspection, cost for any additional reports? 
    They will ask you for property type, square footage, etc and can give you the cost before you need to hire them. Shop around!
  2. Does the inspector provide the report on site/immediately?
    Some inspectors carry a laptop and printer with them! Others will have the reports ready in anywhere from 1 to 4 business days. Make sure to ask if they'll EMAIL it to you!
  3. If a condo built between 2001-2009... do they offer Defective/Chinese Drywall testing? Depending on the location of the property, Chinese drywall inspections may be needed and will most likely be an additional fee. Testing results are not immediate, those reports will likely take longer. If Chinese drywall is a concern, it's best to include a special addendum directly addressing this subject inside of the Purchase Contract. As the buyer, you may need to specify additional time in order to get that inspection done and get the results back.
  4.  Will the report include photos?
    It should!! Lots of photos!!!
  5. Will the report include estimates of typical/similar repairs?
    Yes, it will give a real-life fair estimate of how much the repair would cost for repair or replacement and any additional recommendations of the inspector.

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