Home inspections aren’t required for every home sale, but they’re one of the smartest investments that a prospective buyer can make. An inspection can’t guarantee that any home is completely without flaw or problem, because there are limitations to what any inspector can, and is allowed, to do.
That said, inspections do reveal potentially dangerous and costly problems, where they exist, and can help buyers make a much more informed choice. They can also give you confidence that a house is in great shape.
Here’s what happens in most real estate inspections:
Customers Hire Inspectors
An inspection is different from an appraisal, even though some overlap in the two jobs exists. Where an appraiser is looking for the fair market value of the home, an inspector is looking for the condition of the property and makes note of defects wherever they are found.
One of the most important things to remember about an inspector is that he works for you, the customer. You pay for the inspection report, and his work is done on your behalf.
There are times through the process of buying a house that an ally is hard to find, since even your agent probably represents the seller. Most do. An inspector is a great ally, and everything that he reports – even the defects – is valuable information for you.
Inspections Don’t Cover Everything
One of the biggest misconceptions about a home inspection is that a clean report means there are no possible defects with the house. Inspectors have limits, some of which are imposed by their Standards of Practice, the state, and even by logic. Standards guide inspectors on what to inspect and how to inspect it. For some inspections, such as for termites, you’ll need a separate inspector.
You can read a common set of Standards at the American Society of Home Inspectors to see what’s covered. Typically, an inspection won’t tell you whether there’s radon or hazards such as asbestos, although some asbestos (such as some ceiling tiles) might be both visible to the inspector and included in his report.
That’s the key. Inspections cover what’s visible and accessible. An inspector won’t enter a dangerous area or pull up flooring to see what’s underneath, and he won’t move a heavy chest of drawers to test an outlet.
Inspectors Sometimes Get a Bad Rap
Home inspectors might sometimes be considered deal killers, but that’s not entirely fair. Done right, the whole purpose of an inspection is to let you know about the real condition of the house that you’re planning to buy. Sometimes that information means that a buyer will back out of a sale. But when that happens, the inspector still did his job.
No inspector wants to ruin any deal. It doesn’t benefit him in any way, and it can make some real estate agents hot under the collar. Considering that agents often send inspectors referrals, it doesn’t make good business sense to sour that relationship.
If you inspector finds problems, you should look at them as an opportunity. You can save yourself from buying a house that’s riddled with expensive problems, or use that information to negotiate a much better deal on the house. And if the inspection is all clear, you can buy the house with confidence.
A home inspection should be part of any real estate sale. Lenders get appraisals for similar reasons, because it’s in their best interest. And it’s in every buyer’s best interest to do the same. Unless you’re an experienced contractor, you probably can’t spot the issues that an inspector can. Find an inspector whose credentials you can check, and you’ll have a much better chance of buying a house that you’re really happy with.
Have you ever thought about entering the real estate inspecting industry? ICA School has one of the best programs around, and it’s available in a convenient online format that lets you work when you can and issues a certification when you’re done. Get a free course demo and see what home inspecting is really like.