When you are a home buyer and you receive the home inspection report back on a property under contract, here are some tips for what to look for in the report. Some things are major red flags while others that seem major, simply are not.

Health and Safety Items

Electrical wires sticking out of the ruined wall.Mold, radon, gas leaks, improperly vented furnaces and faulty electrical wiring are major items that put you and your family in danger. If any of these items appear on your inspection report, take them seriously and require they be repaired by a licensed contractor when you respond with your inspection objection.

It is important to require a licensed contractor repair these items and that the seller provides proof or an invoice that the repairs were made. If the seller pushes back on repairing these items, walk away from the contract. It can be hard when you feel that you have found your perfect home, but if they refuse to correct major issues like these, there are likely many minor items that will surface after you buy the home.

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Big Ticket Repair Items

If you are looking at a home in an area that is known for expansive soil or has mature landscaping like large trees, have a sewer scope performed on the sewer or septic system. This only applies for older homes that are not built with modern PVC sewer pipe. These repairs can easily cost more than $5,000 so it is worth a $99 check.

Roofs are another big ticket item that could show up on your inspection report. If your inspector suspects roof damage, have a licensed roofing contractor do a free inspection. If he/she also identifies roof damage, check if the seller knows if an event, like hail or excessive wind, caused the damage. If so, ask the seller to file an insurance claim on the home. If the damage is due to old age or wear and tear, negotiate a price reduction in your purchase.

Indoor termite infestation near a stairway.

Additionally, if you live in an area with termites, inspections are cheap and worth the peace of mind. Many states and municipalities even require it now. If termite damage is present, get a handle on the extent of the infestation and damage before moving forward. Repairs are invasive, time-intensive and costly.

Things That Sound Bad, But Aren’t.

Negative drainage is a term that sounds bad, but actually is not worrisome unless you live on a lot where rain will drain directly towards your foundation and window wells.

Furthermore, most plumbing issues that are identified by an inspector, such as leaky faucets and running toilets, are repaired easily and not worth negotiation to have fixed in the purchase process. Focus on the big stuff.

Consider… Are You In a Buyer’s Market or a Seller’s Market?

If you are in a competitive market (right now, most fit in this group) with a low amount of inventory of homes for sale, the length of your inspection objection makes a difference. If your inspection objection list is 40 items long, a seller with multiple offers may figure you will be difficult to work with and simply move on to the next offer.

This does not mean that you should ignore the health and safety of your family or the big ticket items, but instead focus on what is important and decide your absolute deal breakers.

If you happen to be in a buyer’s market or the property you want has been on the market for a long time, you have leverage, as a buyer, to ask for more. Your real estate agent can provide guidance.

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A Word About Home Inspectors.

With the resurgence of the real estate market in many parts of the country, there is a strong demand for home inspections. Be cautious as not all states require home inspectors to be licensed. And in many cases all it takes to set up a business is a quick, online course and the purchase of a software program.

Additionally, home inspectors can often feel pressure to identify problems with the home to justify the fee they are getting paid. This combination of inexperience and pressure can lead to overzealous inspection reports that are scary at best.

Example 1: At one of our properties, the inexperienced home inspector provided a report that there were zero grounded outlets. This particular inspector was unaware that in some older homes grounding occurs at the electrical panel.

Example 2: An inspector recommended a new roof for one of our properties that had just had a new roof installed six months earlier with no recent weather events. Completely unnecessary and would make us appear uneducated with any seller.

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When you choose your home inspector, ask how long they have been in business to ensure you receive an accurate assessment of your new home. The software programs used today look professional, but if your inspector is new, consider moving on to another inspector with at least a full year of experience.