Buyer Beware: Home Inspections

A home is typically the most expensive purchase a person will ever make. Because of this, as much as you may like that property you recently found, itís critical to get it inspected before finalizing the deal. An inspection gives you an idea of the homeís physical condition, including the heating system, central air system, plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic and visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and structural components.

A home inspection addresses what needs to be repaired now and what might need to be repaired in the future. If you have a property inspected before signing a contract, you might be able to negotiate a lower price that reflects the inspectionís findings. Simply because a house needs repairs doesnít mean you shouldnít buy it. The buyer must decide how much to spend and how much work he or she is willing to do after the purchase.

Home inspections donít cover everything, though. Inspectors arenít required to identify conditions that are hidden or could be considered latent defects. They donít have to move personal property, plants, snow or debris to inspect an item, and they arenít liable if they miss something. Inspectors also donít have to evaluate systems that arenít easily accessible, and they donít have to note whether termites, mold, hazardous plants or animals are present.

Itís not possible to know everything about a house before buying it, but an inspection should give you a good idea about its condition. While the cost of a home inspection is typically based on the size, complexity and number of systems in the property, an inspection can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. Some inspection fees are based on a percentage of the asking price. When calculating the time for lab results, inspections should take only about three weeks to finalize. But that money and time could mean fewer negotiations and surprises, a lower sales price, a decrease in the likelihood of litigation for improper disclosure and an increased chance of closing the deal.

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