A buyer’s guide to home inspections: What to expect

You’ve finally found the house you’ve always wanted, you’ve put in an offer to buy it, and have agreed to terms with the seller. But before you go to closing, it’s important to have your new home inspected by a professional in case there are any major defects you need to know about before making that huge financial investment.

Home inspections give you the opportunity to consult with a professional about your house to learn if there are any serious repairs, safety issues or things that will affect the livability or value of the home you are about to purchase. The home inspector also can provide advice on how serious the issues are and the proper course of action to take.

Unfortunately, a home inspection isn’t free. Home inspectors usually charge anywhere between $200 and $600, depending on the type of inspections completed and the size of the house. While cost is an important consideration in hiring an inspector, keep in mind that you often get what you pay for. Make sure your inspector is licensed and has credentials to back it up. Your Realtor can help you find a reputable inspector.

So you’ve hired a home inspector, now what? Be sure to block off a few hours for the home inspection. This gives you and the home inspector enough time to survey the entire house and for you to ask questions. Don’t be shy or embarrassed if you don’t understand terminology. Ask questions, and good inspectors will take the time to explain what they find.

Your inspector should take photos of any defects he finds. And, as you follow along, he’ll explain what he sees. A good inspector also will give you some insights into your house, and give you information about any systems in the house you are unfamiliar with and show you how to operate them.

Once the inspection is complete, you will receive an entire report detailing all the issues, major or minor, with the house. Once you have the report, you and your Realtor will talk about the report and determine how best to negotiate with the seller to get major repaired before closing defects.

Buyers should expect sellers to repair major repairs – those things that aren’t working the way they should. Sellers, however, shouldn’t be expected to repair minor or cosmetic issues. If you expect everything to be brand new, then you may want to talk to your Realtor about building a new home, not buying an existing one, because every home is going to have a few flaws.