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Buyers: How Should You Handle Home Inspections?

What is a home inspection for?

Basically, it exists to protect you as a consumer and provide some leverage in negotiations. How does the whole home inspection process work? First, we’ll hire a professional home inspector to check out the home you’re buying from top to bottom.

They’ll look at the roof, the crawl space, and practically everything in between. That professional inspector will include all of their findings in what’s known as an inspection report. Now, buyers would do well to keep this in mind: Not everything that the inspector notes is an issue, and not every issue is one that the seller will be responsible for.

Thankfully, our contracts here are very clear as to what the home inspection process entails and what items fall within a seller’s responsibility to keep “operational or sound.” There are five major categories of items outlined in the contract, the first three of which simply need to be operable. As you may have guessed, that’s the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. The key word here is operable; it doesn’t matter if the wiring or pipes are old, just so long as they work.

The next category is the roof. Again, the contract isn’t concerned with the age of the roof, but whether it’s actively leaking. Lastly, the contract is clear that the dwelling of the home should be structurally sound. In other words, will the house be sliding off of its foundation anytime soon?

“It doesn’t matter if the wiring or pipes are old, just so long as they work.”

When you receive the inspection report, it’s your job as the buyer to comb through it and determine which, if any, of the inspector’s observations fall into those five categories. If there is an issue with any of the “big five,” then you’re encouraged to list it on what’s called a repair addendum. That document is then submitted to the seller for review.

So long as your requests fall within one of those major categories and the seller agrees to make the necessary repairs, then the deal can move forward. If the seller decides they don’t want to address those issues, then the ball gets put back in the buyer’s court. Do you want to accept the property as is, try to renegotiate, or void the contract?

While there’s certainly room for the inspection period to get dicey, my advice is this: Stay within the “big five,” and the whole process will be a lot more manageable. As always, if you have further questions about this or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email. It’s our pleasure to be your go-to resource.

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