Regardless of whether you are paying cash for your new home, or you are obtaining a mortgage, a home inspection is a necessity. Buying a home without knowing the possible pitfalls can leave you with the proverbial money pit.
In addition to a home inspection, make sure you inspect for termites and other creepy crawlers. While a bank will want to see that you’ve had a termite inspection or that the current owners have a termite contract, you’re on your own if paying cash -- but better safe than sorry.
When you hire the inspector, make sure you are available to accompany him, this way you can walk around with the inspector while he looks at everything in the home. He will also be able to show you how to work things, like central air, and tell you what are major issues and what aren’t.
A home inspector is hired to find problems, so the report will be lengthy and might make you nervous. It will generally have photos, but could become confusing if you haven’t seen everything firsthand.
Generally, the inspector will give you a top line report about the inspection. If there are some complex issues, he will let you know if you’ll need to hire a specialist.
When you get the full report back and have had a chance to read it, talk to your realtor. If the home has many issues, you may feel the need to renegotiate.
Occasionally the owners will not renegotiate, but you should be told that up front. If you can negotiate repairs, consider a credit at closing so you can hire contractors yourself.
And while we are talking about repairs and contractors, be sure to get three bids, so you can compare prices, materials and methods. Give each contractor the exact same description of the work you’d like them to do to ensure that the estimates are all for the same work. Feel free to sketch what you are looking for.
The estimates should include warranties, if any, the timeframe of completion of the work and a payment schedule. The least expensive bid is not necessarily the best bid, so use your judgement.
Additionally, call the Better Business Bureau or the Office of Consumer Affairs, and be sure to use licensed, insured companies.
As always, feel free to send me any questions and I’ll address them in my next column.
Cathy Vingelli, Licensed Realtor, Hal Knopf Realty