The Home Inspection
Nearly all of today’s home purchase contracts include a home inspection contingency clause, which is a provision allowing the buyer to hire a professional home inspector to thoroughly evaluate the house and determine if there are any issues with its structure or systems? Once a purchase contract has been signed, the buyer can book a professional inspector of their choosing, whom they may or may not accompany during the three sometimes four hour inspection.
A typical home inspection includes a check of a house’s structural and mechanical condition but can also encompass tests for radon gas, detection of wood-destroying insects and other services requested by the buyer. Back in 1976, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) standardized the home inspection process and established Standards of Practice dictating what must be inspected as well as how far the professional home inspector needs to go to report their findings.
According to ASHI, the ten critical areas for inspection during the process are the structure, exterior, roofing system, plumbing system, electrical system, heating system, air conditioning system, interior, insulation and ventilation, and fireplaces.
Once the home inspection is complete, the inspector creates a report for the home buyer detailing all that was found. This report will note problems requiring immediate attention and conditions that could lead to more serious issues over time. The buyer will review the findings and decide what items are most important to be repaired or replaced, and what is acceptable. They will have a deadline agreed to in writing to present the findings to you. These items are negotiable, however, the buyer may release the contract without penalty if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the inspection or the seller’s response to the items they wish to have repaired. Our contracts in Virginia allow the seller 5 days to respond without the buyer able to release the contract once the PICRA is given to the seller. After this 5 day period, if the seller has not responded, the buyer may release the contract, or continue to request a resolution with the items they are requesting to have repaired.
How the seller should prepare
There’s no hiding the truth of a home inspector’s findings, so the wisest way to head off potential problems is to evaluate your home before you even put it on the market. Just by deciding to sell your home, you’re entering a competitive market where quality work, steady maintenance and general care for your home will shine through. So, if you can afford to do so, even hiring a home inspector yourself in order to secure a presale profile of your home may be wise. This gives you the opportunity to repair and improve the things you can, and the chance to determine larger issues that should be disclosed up front. Bottom line, you’ll have a reference point by which to compare the results of the buyer’s home inspection a great advantage that could possibly prevent the loss of a sale.
Nobody lives in a perfect house, you may have been in your house for months or years, and there are little things you probably don’t even pay attention to. Be prepared to fix stuff up, because it’s just part of the whole process, and don’t take it personally.
During the home inspection
The key advice here is not to be at home when the inspection happens. The home inspector needs to be able to do a thorough, detailed job without interference or interruption, and if the buyer is along for the ride, they must be free to ask critical questions and to point out areas of concern. If the shoe were on the other foot, you know you’d expect the same, but it can be unsettling to observe this process in your own home. So get your home as ready as possible in advance, and then make it available for this very important part of the process.