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7 Home Inspection Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest financial transactions you are ever likely to make, so it’s important you understand what you are buying if you’re buying a home, it makes sense to arrange for your own inspection. If you’re selling a home and want to get the best price possible, then an independent third-party inspection is also in order.

Here are 7 tips that will help you get the most out of any home inspection:

Arrange inspections early

Plain and simple: inspections are more thorough when they happen earlier in the process. Some buyers wait until the “final walk-through” before requesting an inspection, but with any home purchase there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding what issues may emerge. The longer you wait after an offer is accepted to request a home inspection, the higher your risk becomes that something will come up that you didn’t get inspected beforehand.

Be willing to address issues

Not every issue uncovered during an inspection needs to be repaired; not by you, and definitely not before the sale is final. But you do want to ensure that all results are documented in writing, preferably with estimates for repair or replacement costs included. If there are several issues, consider setting aside a budget to address them all at once. Also ask the inspector if they have any knowledge of contractors who could help you reduce the cost of repairs by splitting jobs or negotiating rates.

Be respectful to everyone involved

Don’t argue with the inspector over their assessment of the home’s condition. If you disagree with an assessment, wait until the inspection process is complete before raising your concern. The inspector should be willing to discuss their observations and provide reasoning if necessary; but once they move on, it’s best to not revisit the issue again.

Get a detailed report

Don’t settle for a “drive-by” or “cut-and-paste” inspection report. Ask the inspector to provide a detailed assessment of each room, including all visible areas and any crawl spaces or attic access points. Ask for photos if necessary, but ask them to include measurements as well. For example, “…the width of this exterior door is 36 inches”, not “the foyer is narrow” or “the foyer is small”.

Ask about cost of repairs, use of contractors

If the inspector suggests any repairs, ask them how much that repair might cost and if they have a preferred contractor they work with. If you don’t like their numbers or recommendations, then feel free to seek out other estimates on your own – but  be careful about how you go about establishing those numbers on your own. Asking friends for referrals or recommendations is not advisable; some contractors will cost more than others, some are better at what they do, and ultimately it’s up to the buyer to weigh these issues themselves.

Don’t ask for a list of defects

If you’re  not an expert in home construction, don’t ask the inspector to list every single defect they noted during their inspection. You might think you’ve found a faster or easier way to find out what’s wrong with the home, but this process will likely backfire. It’s not uncommon for sellers to provide laundry lists of “issues” that are incorrect or  exaggerated, and it can be a challenge for a buyer to tell fact from fiction – even if they’re an expert.

Get all your questions related to home inspections answered

Even after the inspection is complete, it’s not unusual for buyers to have follow-up questions. Feel free to contact the inspector by phone or email with any additional questions you might have , and be respectful of their time. For questions regarding a specific system or component, you might want to consult the seller’s disclosure statement as well, which should have been provided before the inspection.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of this information, but just remember that inspections are nothing more than a snapshot in time – one that can help  you make a better decision about what to buy, and give you the opportunity to get any issues addressed before it’s too late.

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