For Your Protection Get a Home Inspection is the title of one of the many documents a Tehachapi area home buyer should be asked to sign early in a real estate transaction. This document is often included but less often discussed in the transaction documents package.
Why get a home inspection? The first and foremost reason is that it can help you avoid a bad experience that could end up in a legal battle with the sellers over property problems. It may seem to be a no-brainer, but it’s important to make sure your purchase agreement includes an inspection contingency.
The contingency period will be specified in your contract as some number of days. Your mission during the inspection contingency period is to find out as much as possible about the property and surrounding area. Your investigations should include insurability of the property, permit history, zoning issues and cost to repair defects. Make sure you investigate any issues that could affect whether or not the property will suit your long-term needs at a price you can afford.
Most states, like California, have requirements for home seller disclosure. If you are buying in a state that doesn’t require sellers to disclosure material facts, ask the sellers to disclose in writing any property defects or neighborhood issues they know about.
Also, find out if there are systems that require routine maintenance, such as the furnace, drainage system, skylights and roof. Once you have cleared the inspection hurdle, ask the seller to provide you with contact information for any people who have worked on the property that the sellers would recommend.
Try to find out when major components were replaced and when the house was last painted. Ask the sellers how much they pay for utilities. Ask for copies of proposals and paid invoices for any significant work done on the property.
Basically, you want to know if there were any problems that the seller had with the property, what they did about it, who did the work and when it was done. If the roof was recently replaced, find out if it’s covered by a warranty that can be transferred to you.
If you are buying a newly built home or a custom home that is being sold by the original owner, ask the seller for any construction-related documents including the architectural plans, if they’re available.
Verifying livable square footage is a big issue in today’s cautious mortgage environment. Many lenders won’t count unpermitted additions or renovations that add square footage in the appraised valuation of the property. That means the property could appraise for less than the price you agreed to pay which could have an effect on your ability to get the mortgage amount you expected.
It’s a good idea to check the permit history at the planning department yourself, especially if the sellers can’t provide copies of permits for work done. This should let you know if renovations were done with permits and if the permits received final approval. Make sure you have this information before removing the inspection contingency.
With probate and REOs (bank-owned properties) you will receive minimal, if any, information about the property condition. This makes it all the more important to perform your investigations with due diligence.
Hire a professional. Even if you think you know what you are looking for and what you are seeing, you should still hire a professional, insured, home inspector. Using a professional serves several purposes for you. The first one is that it protects you in the event of injury either to the home inspector or to the property he is investigating. If the property is damaged as a result of your investigations you can be held liable for the cost of repairs. If you use an insured professional, his insurance should cover the damages.
A professional home inspection provides a sound basis for any requests for repairs that you may make to the seller. Quote the findings in the home inspection report to substantiate your requests. This approach will carry greater weight than if you conduct your own inspection.
A professional home inspector has a routine for their inspection. They conduct the same basic tests at each property and are therefore less likely to overlook items.
How do you choose an inspector? Ask your REALTOR® for a few recommendations. He or she will be happy to help. Chances are good that your REALTOR® has worked with several inspectors and can provide information about them to you.
Don’t have a REALTOR® ? I’ll be happy to help. Call, text or email me through the Contact page. As always, share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.