Let’s assume you’re buying a home and you’ve hired a reputable home inspector to inspect the property. It’s inevitable that he’s going to find problems. That’s the nature of his work. He reports to you on the condition of the home. What should you do when problems are revealed?
The first thing is to remember you hired the inspector to find what’s wrong with the home. You may be in for some surprises, but don’t panic. Be clear-headed and determine what’s reparable and what isn’t. The goal of this article is to help you handle the situation if problems are found that can be fixed. Problems that can’t be fixed raise other issues.
Walk around with the inspector as he does the inspection. Stay out of his way, but discuss what he finds and be prepared to take notes. Sometimes he may make comments that won’t show up in his final report. While you must carefully read his report, don’t overlook your notes from the time you spent with the inspector.
It’s possible your inspector may not find anything major, but he’ll have a hunch about something and recommend further inspection by another professional. Ask him why he can’t do the inspection himself. It could simply be that the job goes beyond what he’s qualified to do.
Next ask what the risks are if you don’t have further inspection done. If you don’t ask, you could be stuck later with a serious problem, such as $50,000 worth of septic tank repairs. You don’t want to take that kind of risk.
If a problem is fixable, find out how much repairs will cost. What might happen if you don’t have the repairs done?
If the home inspection turns up a few minor flaws, you should be able to negotiate a solution well before the closing. It’s perfectly acceptable for a seller to offer a cash settlement at the closing table to cover the cost of the repairs. Be aware that this cash settlement must be approved by your lender. The seller can’t give you money at the closing without the lender knowing about it.
Be sure to plan ahead to avoid closing headaches. If the seller is unwilling to give you a credit to fix the items to be repaired, she might have the items fixed before the closing or settlement.
Of course, the inspection could reveal more serious problems, such as asbestos covered pipes, high levels of radon in the basement, a crack in the foundation, water and mold damage, or a termite infestation. Many such significant problems can still be repaired.
However, it’s at this point that you have to decide if the home’s purchase price is worth it when you add on an item like $15,000 for a new roof. What if you have to spend thousands more for a new furnace and appliances? What if a replumbing job costs $35,000?
The home might still be worth buying if you’re getting it at the right price.
Will this house be your new home? Are you willing and able to deal with the relatively minor problems your inspector has reported to you? It’s your call, but think of where you’d be if you had not had the home inspected.