5 fast facts about your home inspection

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You’ve found the home of your dreams, and the seller accepted your offer to purchase. Congrats! But don’t break out the bubbly just yet.

The prospect of a home inspection might seem daunting, but it’s actually pretty straightforward: You hire a professional to assess the condition of the home and identify any potential expenses that might crop up post-purchase. Hiring someone who is ASHI-certified (that’s the American Society for Home Inspectors) is probably a safe bet. Ask your friends, family, co-workers, real estate agent or loan officer if they know of a reputable inspector, or find someone in your area.

Here are 5 fast facts about home inspections that you need to know.

1. You’ll need to pay up

Lots of buyers don’t realize that a) while home inspections are a good idea, they are optional; and b) the homebuyer is on the hook for the cost of the inspection. The average price of an inspection is about $300, depending on the size of the house and where you live. It may seem steep, but what you’re really buying is peace of mind. After all, you’re considering purchasing something that’s going to cost you thousands of dollars, and your inspector could uncover a major flaw that can’t be seen with the naked eye (like a crack in the foundation, evidence of flooding or previously undiscovered mold and mildew). You may even decide to walk away from a property that could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs beyond the purchase price.

2. You should attend your home inspection

Lots of home inspectors actually recommend that potential homebuyers attend their inspections. That way they can be sure they’re being thorough and answering any questions the buyers might have. If they identify any problems, they can point these out to you in person and maybe even recommend a professional who can do the repair work.

3. You can negotiate the cost of repairs with the seller

Some repairs are relatively minor. When we bought our house, our home inspector told us we needed to install a radon mitigation system and repair a few windows with broken seals. We were able to subtract the cost of that work from our final purchase price on the home. And if worst comes to worst, you can cancel the sale (depending on your specific offer to purchase and whether or not you included a home inspection contingency).

4. Generic home inspection checklists can help you prepare

These can help you become familiar with what an inspector might be looking for. Find them here, here and here.

5. When you’re ready to purchase, schedule your home inspection as soon as possible

If there are any major issues with the home, you’ll want to know right away so you can make an informed decision about whether to buy it or not. Also, you’ll want to make sure you’ve built in plenty of time before your closing date in case the home needs additional inspections.

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