Buying a home usually is the largest single investment you will ever make and you have to be able to cut through the sales hype and real estate terminology to know if the home you are considering is worth the investment. To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the newly constructed or existing house before you buy it and a buyer typically gets that information with a home inspection.
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation and detailed in an inspector’s report. The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and all major structural components.
Home inspections are as applicable to newly constructed homes as they would be to an existing one, as a home inspection may identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights or shoddy workmanship, as well as the need for maintenance to keep the house in good shape. After the inspection is completed, you will know more about the house you are interested in buying, which will allow you to make a purchasing decision with confidence.
Typically, a home inspector is contacted immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. However, before you sign, be sure there is an inspection clause in the sales contract, making your final purchase obligation contingent on the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms and conditions to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.
The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically throughout the United States and very often varies depending on a number of factors such as the size of the house, its age and possible optional services such as septic, well or radon testing if it is required in the local real estate market and by state law. The typical home inspection price range in Southern California is between $200 to $450 depending on the size of the house and amount of detail required in the report.
However, do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection or in the selection of your home inspector. An inspector’s fee is usually nominal when you compare it to the amount of potential financial outlay for major repairs you potentially would have had to shell out after you had purchased the home. The sense of security and knowledge gained from the home inspection is well worth the cost, so be wary of hiring an inspector based solely on price as the lowest-priced inspection is not necessarily a bargain. Use the inspector’s qualifications, including his experience, training, compliance with your state’s regulations, if any, and professional affiliations as a guide.
And what should you do if the home inspection finds problems? If the inspector identifies problems, it doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect and whether some of the items found can be negotiated with the seller. If your budget is tight, or if you don’t want to become involved in future repair work, this information will be important to you as to whether you will go forward with the purchase of the home. Furthermore, if major problems are found, a seller may agree to make repairs and or adjust the final sale price of the house to reflect the repairs needed.
However, even if the home inspection doesn’t find any major problems, other than general wear and tear, a homeowner will know for certain and have the security that his or her home purchase was a worthwhile one!
Nef Cortez has been a licensed real estate broker and has held various positions in the real estate and mortgage industry for over 25 years. If you would like to read more of Nef's timely advice (with the latest FREE info on local foreclosures), visit his website at Chino Hills CA Real Estate or read his blog at A Slice of So Cal Real Estate