You’ve got your heart set on the home you want to buy, and you’ve hired a reputable home inspector to check it out for you. You’re worried he’ll find problems, and you don’t know what to do about it.
But finding problems is his job. He gives you a comprehensive report on the condition of the home. Remember, you’re hiring him to find any flaws. That’s the first step to finding solutions.
As much as your emotions are already involved, your challenge is to stay clear headed. Don’t panic, even if unpleasant surprises arise. The task ahead of you is to determine what problems are fixable, and which aren’t. But how do you do that when you’re not an expert at home buying?
Start by going with your home inspector when he does the inspection. Stay out of his way, but walk through the home with him and discuss things with him. Take notes, even though he’ll write up a thorough report. He may say some things that won’t show up in his report, and you can compare that final report with your notes.
Sometimes a home inspector won’t find anything major, but he’ll have a hunch about something. He may recommend further inspection by another professional who’s qualified in areas where he isn’t. For example, he might not be trained to do radon testing, but thinks the home should be checked for radon.
When something like this comes up, ask him what the risks are if you don’t have further inspection done. For example, you don’t want to take the risk of being stuck with a $50,000 bill if there are serious septic tank problems.
When your inspector finds problems he thinks can be repaired, find out about how much repairs will cost. What could happen if repairs aren’t done?
When minor problems are uncovered in the inspection, you should be able to negotiate a solution well before the closing. It’s acceptable for the seller to offer a cash settlement at closing to cover the cost of the repairs in question. However, this cash settlement must be approved by your lender because the seller can’t give you money at the closing without the lender knowing about it.
On the other hand, if the seller isn’t willing to give you a credit to fix the items that need to be repaired, he might have the items fixed before the closing or settlement.
But what if the inspection reveals major problems? Examples include asbestos covered pipes, high levels of radon in the basement, a crack in the foundation, water and mold damage, or a termite infestation. You’ll be glad to know that many such problems can still be repaired.
However, this is the time you need to make hard decisions. Is the home’s purchase price worth it when you add on an item like $15,000 for a new roof? And what if you have to spend thousands more for a new furnace and appliances? What if a replumbing job costs $35,000?
If you’re getting the home at a foreclosure or a short sale for something like 40 cents on the dollar, the home may still be worth buying.
Ask yourself some hard questions. Will this house be your new home? Are you willing and able to deal with the relatively minor problems your inspector has uncovered?
It’s up to you now. But where would you be if you didn’t have the home inspected?