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Buyers’ Guide to Home Inspections: Tips and Checklist

In weaker home markets in slower times, there was plenty of time for a buyer to perform copious due diligence on a possible real estate acquisition. This could include repeated walk-throughs, visits by friends and family, talking to neighbors, and even formal inspections from a certified inspector.

In hot housing markets, where offers are sometimes made within hours of a home hitting the market, it feels like there’s a lot more hoping and praying that things will be fine, as opposed to taking an opportunity to closely evaluate the condition of a home. Take too long or try to look too closely, and there are good odds that someone will make a better, faster offer. 

Tips for Buyers on Home Inspections that Sellers Can Benefit From

This approach can work out great for sellers, of course. They can probably get a good price quickly and, in some cases, don’t even have to do any major repairs or restoration.

They still could be liable if they or their real estate agent doesn’t disclose certain structural deficiencies or legal entanglements, but they could still get a good price without needing to perform some little maintenance things like repainting that scuff on the wall or weeding the side yard.

This means that a prospective buyer must either cross their fingers and hope for the best or figure out a better method to check things out as rapidly as possible.

Many recommend bringing along an official home inspection checklist with them, especially if an actual inspector can’t get there in time. This list will help focus efforts on certain specific areas that could require attention, rather than generally walking around looking for things that look amiss. Unless you’re an experienced builder or an inspector, you’ll likely miss a lot.

How to Make the Most of Your Home Inspection

A typical inspection can give potential buyers a better idea of what they’re getting into and learn about possible problems that might need to be repaired.

Depending on what they find and how severe it is, buyers could amend the offer to say something like “we won’t close until these items are fixed” or suggest a discounted price because of the number of unexpected fixes and the high costs to repair them.

A home inspection can also be useful for a seller too. They may be aware of some minor items, and they may even be honest and tell prospective buyers and their agent about them.

But an inspection may reveal some items that a seller may not even be aware of. Perhaps they purchased the property without looking too closely or doing their own inspection. Perhaps there has been more wear and tear or settling over time and problems have emerged, such as cracks or other flaws that may not be noticeable if you’re not specifically looking.

For instance, they may know that there are a few roof shingles missing from the big windstorm a few years ago, but they may not know that moisture has made its way into the attic causing mold contamination. A surprise situation like this is definitely something that can lead to a lawsuit, so the sooner it’s discovered, the sooner both parties can either re-negotiate and get things in motion to be repaired/restored, or the buyer can have time to walk away. 

Buyers’ home inspection checklist

Both buyers and sellers can learn from these types of inspections, regardless of whether the sale moves forward or falls through.

A buyer can use the findings of the inspection or checklist as a guide for what projects to tackle first. This could be in terms of cost or urgency (patch roof before reseeding the back lawn).

They also can use the findings as a guide if they sell in the future (Although another inspection won’t be a bad idea if a lot of time or storms passed.)

Prospective sellers can consider working with a traditional agency, or they can work with a company like Sundae.com, an off-market platform helping homeowners sell their home as-is by presenting it in a marketplace where multiple offers are often presented. Sellers can learn more about Sundae.com by reviewing Sundae.com Reviews.

“Your inspection becomes a foundation for identifying what is working in your home and what needs addressed,” says a representative from Sundae.com. “Your home inspection is a driving force behind next steps and can inform your decisions regarding sale, price negotiation, and leverage in closing the deal with or without noted repairs.” 

The Value of Having a Home Inspection Contingency

Taking part in an inspection can take you to parts of a home that aren’t explored all that regularly. It can also provide some opportunities for visitors to learn something about how a home is built. Be sure to take pictures which can be a good way to preserve potential damage.

Some people suggest doing a pre-inspection walk-through first, making note of what you think might be damaged or deteriorated. Then, once the actual inspection is done, you can compare notes to see if anything you noticed appeared on the actual inspection. The more of these you take part in, there more you’ll know what “they’re” looking for and begin to notice more tiny details.

It’s also an opportunity to see the difference between actual fixes and any “cosmetic” fixes that were done mostly to look like they were thrown together to avoid initial detection.

Written by Eric

37-year-old who enjoys ferret racing, binge-watching boxed sets and praying. He is exciting and entertaining, but can also be very boring and a bit grumpy.

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