Buyers: get this type of inspection

Find the house you want. Get the offer accepted. Schedule inspection and finalize purchase.

Easy as pie, right?

Maybe not so much. (Hold off on sending out those housewarming party invites!) All inspections are not created equal. Additionally, you might even need more than one type of inspection.

So, how the heck do you know? Never fear. We’re here to help.

General inspections

Do you really need an inspection? The short answer is: yes! An inspector is an expert in examining various facets of your potential home to ensure they’re in good condition. The inspector will make notes as they go, specifying any issues they uncover, that you’ll be able to take back to the seller for further negotiation if necessary.

Expect your inspector to take a look at:

  • Home structure (staircases, floors etc.)
  • Roof and gutters
  • Heat and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
  • Attics and insulation
  • Ventilation systems
  • Doors and windows
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

Your realtor should be able to recommend an inspector they personally trust, but you should also plan on talking to the potential inspector before scheduling them. Consider asking friends for their recommendations as well. 

Once you’ve chosen—but before you schedule a visit from your inspector—keep the following factors in mind.

Things to watch

Read the seller disclosures: Most states (double check yours to be sure) require the seller to tell their buyer upfront if they’re aware of anything that’s wrong with the property. State law will also dictate whether this is provided before or after you make an offer. Either way, read it carefully.

Further, just because no defects have been disclosed doesn’t mean they don’t exist. According to NerdWallet’s Kate Wood, “There’s tremendous variation in what states ask sellers to disclose, however, and simply having a disclosure requirement doesn’t necessarily mean the seller will honor it.” 

Yikes. We like to believe the best of people, but let’s be frank. Not everyone is totally honest, especially when large sums of money enters the picture…thus the need for your own home inspection.

Show up: As the buyer, you have a vested interest in this inspection. It’s your right to be there, and most inspectors will be helpful in answering your questions as they go. Do be mindful, however, that this is their job and you don’t want to distract them from it, so stay out of the way. (Ask thoughtful questions, but don’t be a nuisance, in other words.)

Even new construction needs an inspection: Even new houses can have issues. I know, you thought you’d be out of the woods with a brand new build. Still, it’s better to discover these things in advance than to assume the property is in order. Your inspector will double check to make sure that everything in that beautiful new home is as it should be. 

Specialized inspections

Termites (and other nasty critters): These inspectors specifically look for signs of active infestation (ew) or the damage from past infestation. Some states require this type of inspection.

Radon, Asbestos or Lead Paint: These days, you’re probably more likely to find radon than you are asbestos or lead paint, but inspectors are available for all of these issues if you determine it’s necessary. For older homes built pre-1978, you might want to find one. 

Mold: Especially important in damp climates, mold can be extremely sneaky and destructive, causing costly damage both to your home and your health. 

Plumbing, Sewer and Septic: You never know what these might dig up. Better to find out before you buy the house. 

Foundation and Roof: From bottom to top, have an expert take a look at these very important—and very expensive-to-fix—components of your potential home.  

Pool and Spa: These inspectors will take a close look at the elements of these fun features which you usually can’t see, from heaters to water lines. (After all, you’ll want to dive right in once you sign the dotted line, right?)

Look, we’re not saying you need all of these different inspections. Each one will cost money, of course, but it’s helpful to know they’re available. Depending on the property, its features and age, you and your agent can decide what inspections might provide helpful knowledge without breaking the bank.

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