YOU’VE HAD THE HOME INSPECTION – NOW WHAT?

Posted by Lise | Filed under: Buyers

You have successfully navigated through the home search process to find that perfect home for sale in Bethesda. You have your dream home under contract, and you’ve even done the home inspection with a licensed home inspector! But you aren’t quite sure what that home inspection actually meant.  What was the inspector talking about when he said that your condo in Dupont Circle needed to have the brick wall repointed? or that your townhouse in Old Town needs the flashing repaired.   It is scary for first time homebuyers and seasoned investors alike.

Here are some  questions you can use to translate your home inspector’s findings into understanding your new home, how to negotiate with the seller for the important repairs, and how to maintain your home after settlement.

1. Can you show me how that works? Use your inspection as a chance to find out how to operate the major systems and locate the important turn off valves.  Ask your inspector to tag the turn off valves and make sure that everyone knows where they are!

2. Can you show me where that is? Often, when you attend the home inspection, you’ll be distracted by the sheer joy of your new home and not paying full attention to your inspection.  Be sure to ask the inspector to take a few minutes showing you everything that he has identified that needs repair, maintenance or further inspection.  When you get the report, then, you’ll know what and where the various items belong. (One more best practice is to choose an inspector who takes digital pictures and inserts them into their reports!)

3. How bad is it – really? The best home inspectors are very calm and present the facts of the property condition to you.    But sometimes, you, the home’s buyer, still don’t understand what’s important and what isn’t so much – the information you need to know whether to move forward with the deal, whether to renegotiate and what to plan ahead for.

It isn’t always clear from the home inspection whether the issue is a show stopper or whether it is an easy and inexpensive fix.

In many states, home inspectors are not legally able to provide you with a repair bid, but they probably will verbally give you an answer as to whether the issue  is a serious problem (or not), and hopefully a recommendation for whom to call for a repair bid.

4.  Who should  fix that? The  home inspector may just say – “What do you mean?  You don’t need to pay someone to fix that.  Go down to Home Depot.  Should cost you $15 – tops.”  And that’s helpful to know.  Instead of asking for forty easy repairs and maintenance items from the sellers, the buyers can concentrate on the important repair items and skip the DIY-type maintenance items.

And even on the larger repairs, your home inspector hopefully will give you an idea of whether to call a roofer or a chimney sweep, a plumber or an HVAC repair person to get bids from during your contingency period, to negotiate with your home’s seller.

And same goes for any further inspections they recommend – if neither you nor your agent knows a specialist, ask the general home inspector for a few referrals.

In addition, it is important to remember that in many condo communities, even townhouses such as Kenwood Forest in Chevy Chase, MD, the common elements are repaired by the condo association. Be sure you understand what the condo fee will cover before you become too anxious or too complacent!

5. If this was your house, what would you fix, and when? Your home inspector’s job is to point out everything, within the scope of the inspection, that might need repair, replacement, maintenance or furthe inspection – or seems like it might be on its last leg.  But they also tend to be experienced enough with homes to know that no home is perfect.  Many times, I’ve asked this question about an item the inspector described as “at the end of its serviceable lifetime” and had them say, “I wouldn’t do a thing to it.  Just know that it could break in the next 5 months, or in the next 5 years.  And keep your home warranty in effect, because that should cover it when it does break.”

This question positions your home inspector to help you:

  • understand what does and doesn’t need to be repaired,
  • prioritize the work you plan to do to your home (and budget or negotiate with the seller accordingly),
  • get used to the constant maintenance that is part and parcel of homeownership, and
  • understand the importance of having a home warranty plan.

If you work with the Lise Howe Team, rest assured that we have a long list of great inspectors for you to choose from and we will be there with you during the entire inspection.  We even attend the inspection when it is our listing because we think it is that important to understand the condition of the property!

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20 Responses

  1. Francis says:

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  2. Maurice says:

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  3. brandon says:

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  4. Martin says:

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  5. Martin says:

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  6. Everett says:

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  9. joel says:

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  10. Harvey says:

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  11. Elmer says:

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