If you're buying a property, it's likely that you'll need to have a home inspection conducted as a condition of your purchase agreement. A home inspection is a thorough examination of a property, conducted by a professional home inspector with the objective to identify any potential issues or defects that may exist or can potentially occur in the home.
While home inspections are typically a routine part of the home-buying process, it's not uncommon for home inspection issues to be discovered during the inspection process. After all, most homes, even newly constructed ones, will have different deficiencies and concerns come up. There are so many factors that could impact an inspection report such as the age of the home, maintenance performed by previous owners, and even construction deficiencies from when the home was originally built.
My home inspection identified a number of issues
First, don't panic. Home inspection issues are normal. Feeling anxious or concerned when problems are discovered during a home inspection is natural, but it's important to remain calm and composed. Remember that the purpose of the home inspection is to identify potential issues, so the fact that problems were discovered is not necessarily a bad thing.
What's included in a typical home inspection report?
A typical home inspection report includes a thorough evaluation of the condition of the home's major systems and components. This typically includes the following:
- Exterior: The inspector will assess the condition of the home's exterior, including the foundation, siding, trim, windows, doors, and roof.
- Structural components: The inspector will check the condition of the home's foundation, framing, and other structural components, looking for any signs of damage or wear.
- Electrical system: The inspector will evaluate the home's electrical system, including the wiring, outlets, switches, and service panel.
- Heating and cooling systems: The inspector will check the condition and operation of the home's heating and cooling systems, including the furnace, air conditioner, and ductwork.
- Plumbing: The inspector will evaluate the condition of the home's plumbing system, including the water supply, drainage, and sewer lines.
- Interior: The inspector will assess the condition of the home's interior, including the walls, floors, ceilings, windows, and doors.
- Insulation and ventilation: The inspector will check the insulation and ventilation in the home to ensure that it is sufficient and in good working order.
- Appliances: The inspector will check the condition and operation of any major appliances included with the home, such as the oven, refrigerator, and washing machine.
Most home inspection reports also include photographs and detailed descriptions of any issues or deficiencies found during the inspection, along with recommendations for repairs or further evaluation.
Review the inspection report carefully. The home inspector will provide a written report detailing the findings of the inspection. This report will include a list of any problems or issues that were discovered, along with recommendations for repair or further investigation. Take the time to read the report carefully and understand the implications of the findings. Professional home inspectors can also make themselves available to answer any questions and should have a high-level understanding of what it would take to remedy common issues that are discovered, including an estimated cost to repair.
Understanding home inspection issues and how to remedy them
Once you understand the issues that were discovered and the potential costs to remedy the issues, you'll need to decide on how you'd like to proceed. If your agreement of purchase and sale had a home inspection as one of your conditions, you may be able to seek a mutual release and walk away from the deal (always consult your real estate lawyer prior to making your decision as there may be legal implications). If you decide to proceed with purchasing the property, you can discuss the inspection findings with the other party. If the inspection report raises concerns about specific systems or components of the property, such as the electrical system, foundation issues, or plumbing, you may want to consider hiring a specialist to conduct a more detailed evaluation.
For example, if the inspection report indicates that there may be problems with the property's foundation, you may want to hire a structural engineer to assess the issue and provide additional detail and costs, beyond what a home inspector can provide.
Negotiate a price reduction with the sellers
Once you have an understanding of the issues and potential costs to remedy, talk to the seller about the issues discovered during the inspection, or have your lawyer send respective correspondence to the seller's lawyer.
Try to approach the conversation with facts and evidence of potential remedies and what they may cost, including estimates or written reports you may have received. Your negotiation may involve negotiating repairs, credits, or other compensation. One thing to keep in mind is that most home sellers are highly emotional about their property. They may not always know about a potential issue or concern until after the inspection is completed. Approaching things with a calm attitude and working towards a resolution is the preferred approach.
Be prepared to compromise. In some cases, the problems that are discovered during a home inspection may be significant and may require significant repairs or investments. In these cases, it may be necessary to compromise in order to reach an agreement. For example, if the inspection reveals that the property's roof needs to be replaced, the buyer may ask the seller to credit them a certain amount toward the cost of the repairs.
The last resort: Walking away
If the problems that are discovered during the home inspection are too significant or costly to address, you haven't been successful in negotiating with the sellers, or if you don't see yourself dealing with those issues during or after your possession of the property, you may want to consider cancelling the sale or purchase agreement. This is not always an option and highly depends on the conditions you have incorporated in your agreement.
Walking away from a transaction can have serious legal implications, so ensure you consult with your real estate lawyer prior to making any decisions.
The bottom line
In conclusion, dealing with issues that come up during a home inspection can be challenging, but it's an important part of the real estate process. By following the tips outlined above, you can help ensure that any problems that are discovered are addressed properly and that you make a well-informed decision about whether to move forward with the sale or purchase of the property.