What tips do first-time homebuyers need to know to get a better home inspection?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Here’s our countdown of the “TOP 10” tips that will get you a better home inspection for your money if you are a first-time homebuyer:

1) Go to the websites, check their credentials, and talk to a several home inspectors before hiring one. Want to know what questions to ask? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has prepared a list and we have reproduced it, along with a few additional comments, at our blog post What questions should you always ask before hiring a home inspector?

2) Get a firm price quote. The inspector should be able to give you an exact price after you answer a few questions about the size, age, construction type, and location of the house. But be sure to include anything additional you want inspected, such as a pool or detached barn.

3) Do your research before the inspection. There’s good information on the property history at the local property appraiser’s website and many building departments now have permit records online for you to review. Poke around. Also, because each era and type of home has certain defining characteristics and common defects, check out our blogs that match your future home at the bottom of this page.

4) Make a list of questions. What are your concerns about the condition of the home and what things do you need the inspector to locate for you—such as the water, gas and electrical shut-offs? For a few suggested questions to ask on-site, see our blog post What questions should I ask the home inspector during the inspection?

5) Show up and wear comfortable clothes. Schedule the inspection at a time when you can be there, if at all possible, so you can see for yourself what the inspector finds. If you are a hands-on type, wear comfortable clothes that can get a little dirty. It also helps to bring a few extra items that we recommend in our blog post What should I bring to the home inspection?

6) Try to fit in with the inspectors work style. Some inspectors like to have you tag along and they will carry on a continuous banter while they work. Others prefer to do part, of all, of the inspection, then take you around to show you what they have found. It can be difficult to have a conversation and simultaneously do a meticulous inspection, so find out what works best for your inspector. Also, all inspectors have a regimented sequence they repeat at each house, to make sure they check everything. If your pull them away from their sequence to ask questions about something they have not gotten to yet, it disrupts their focus and they are more likely to miss something. See our blog post Should I follow the inspector around during the inspection? for more on this.

7) Be prepared for defects. No home is perfect, not even a brand new one. There will always be a few things that need to be tweaked or repaired. Our blog post What makes a house fail the home inspection? explains this further.

8) Don’t ask the inspector whether you should buy the house or not. That’s your decision to make, based on your particular financial circumstances and personal preferences. You can, however, ask how the house compares to others of the same age and construction-type that they have inspected nearby.

9) Consult your realtor for negotiation advice after the inspection. If you need to make any repair or price adjustment requests based on the inspection, let your realtor guide you as to what is possible and what strategy to use to get it. Prioritize your needs. Rarely, very rarely, will everything the inspector finds be fixed by the seller.

10) Sleep on it. A lot of emotions and expectations are tied up in buying a first home. You want it to be darn near perfect. But, because many first-time buyers are in the budget price range, it probably won’t be, and the inspection report may be a little disappointing. Before you cancel the contract, do some calculations as to what must be fixed immediately, how much you can afford, and what things can wait awhile. Then give yourself a day to think it over. Once again, your realtor can offer insight on how to go forward.

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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

If we already looked at the house very carefully, do we still need a home inspection?

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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