Purchasing a home is an exciting milestone. However, when house hunting becomes a love affair, it’s easy to get swept up in emotions and make critical errors regarding home inspections. While tempting to cut corners, skipping inspections or using unqualified inspectors can prove financially disastrous. Protect yourself by avoiding these common homebuyer mistakes.
Here are the mistakes of homebuyers:
There is too much room for error to get it perfect. Home buyer education can prepare you for your first home-buying journey, but a homebuyer curriculum only gets you so far.
Not Getting an Inspection
Some eager buyers, especially when facing bidding wars, will forgo an inspection to make their offer more appealing to sellers. This enormous mistake can leave buyers vulnerable to expensive hidden defects and repairs that pop up after closing. Never waive the inspection contingency without full awareness of the home’s condition. A few hundred dollars now is nothing compared to thousands later.
Rushing the Inspection
Quality home inspections take 2-3 hours on average for single family homes. Rushed inspections can miss issues. Make sure the inspector has adequate time to thoroughly evaluate all areas and systems. Pay close attention throughout the inspection and never hesitate to ask the inspector to re-check any concerning items.
Using an Unlicensed “Inspector”
Would you hire an unlicensed doctor to perform surgery? Then don’t hire an unqualified inspector either. Only use properly certified professionals that belong to an established inspectors association and carry errors and omissions insurance. Avoid taking “free” advice from your real estate agent’s brother or a contractor friend who offers to glance things over. There are no deals when it comes to inspections.
Not Attending the Inspection
The buyer should attend the home inspection whenever possible. You will gain firsthand insights about the home while issues are explained. Build rapport with the inspector to understand their competency. Ask questions as you go, look over the inspector’s shoulder, and probe on any vague areas in their report after. Virtual inspections should be a last resort.
Ignoring the Need for Specialist Inspections
Standard Home Inspection Fredericksburg VA provide a helpful overview but cannot identify all hidden defects. Evaluate the need for specialist inspections like roof, sewer/septic, pool, mold testing based on age, materials, location and inspector’s findings. Budget a few hundred extra dollars for these deeper dive inspections that can uncover expensive problems.
Not Reading the Full Inspection Report
Never skim over the home inspection report. Read every page closely including notes on both positives and potential issues. Follow-up immediately for clarification on any vague areas. Sometimes minor problems indicate larger issues beneath the surface, so scrutinize every detail.
Downplaying Safety Hazards
Address all health and safety hazards like exposed wiring, broken railings, sagging roofs, cracked foundations, or leaking plumbing as priority repair requests. Do not downplay these hazards simply because you like other features of the home. Dangerous defects must be properly corrected by licensed contractors.
Ignoring Signs of Mold
Any damp, stained areas or musty odors warrant mold testing. Likewise if the inspector flags moisture issues or poor ventilation. Mold remediation is extremely expensive so it’s critical to identify any exposure before moving your family into a new property. Do not turn a blind eye to potential mold hazards.
Making Assumptions About Permit History
Do not assume necessary permits were obtained for any renovations or additions made by previous owners. Request documentation of proper permitting for any questionable work. Unpermitted projects can pose safety risks and create headaches when trying to sell the property down the road. Read more.
Not Factoring in Age of Systems
Even well-maintained systems have maximum lifespans that should be confirmed. If the water heater is 11 years old, it may need replacement soon despite functioning during inspection. Prepare financially for upcoming replacements of aging systems like the roof, furnace, appliances etc. within the next 5-7 years.
Skipping Follow-up Inspections
Ensure all agreed upon repairs and corrections are properly completed after closing, either by the sellers or your own contractors. Do not pay repair invoices until you see firsthand that issues like cracked walls or faulty wiring have been fixed to your standards by qualified pros.
Failing to Negotiate Repairs
Inspection findings give you powerful negotiation leverage regarding repair credits and fixes. Never accept sellers simply saying issues will be addressed later. All agreements should be in writing before closing. If repairs are done after closing, hold back funds in escrow until completed fully.
Not Understanding Your Rights
Educate yourself on state laws and disclosure requirements governing real estate deals. Know your rights relating to required repairs, credits, and ability to terminate after receiving the inspection report. Realtors may not fully explain all available buyer protections.
Declining Property Protection Coverage
Optional home warranty plans and property protection packages can provide coverage for defects and breakdowns of major systems/appliances for the first year of ownership or longer. First research policy limitations but evaluate the potential value such plans could provide. Read more.
Trusting Seller Disclosure as Gospel
While legally required, seller disclosures only provide their perspective about property condition, not proven facts. They may honestly not know about underlying issues. Verify any concerning claims from the seller disclosure during your own inspection.
Choosing the Cheapest Inspector
A budget inspector who underbids competent competition likely will also cut corners on the inspection itself. Pay fair market value for a thorough inspector with strong credentials and great reviews. Saving a few bucks now simply does not pay off.
Not Asking Enough Questions
Good inspectors encourage client participation. Never be shy about asking plenty of questions before, during, and after the inspection, no matter how minor the issue may seem. A home is a complex machine with interconnected parts, so learn all you can.
Failing to Review Available Records
Go beyond the home inspection by requesting all available documentation from both the sellers and local municipal offices. Look for permits, home history, flood zone status, deed restrictions, renovation records, and any other relevant property details.
Trusting Online Inspection Photos
Many homes for sale include sample inspection photos from the seller’s report. However, these may be older, low quality, or hide issues through selective framing. Always get your own complete set of clear, date-stamped photos that thoroughly document concerns.
Ignoring Your Instincts
If something feels off about the inspector or you develop doubts about their competency or thoroughness, trust your gut. Do not proceed until you are 100% confident in the skills and reliability of the chosen home inspector.
Home inspections may seem bothersome and expensive, but they often uncover critical issues from minor to major. Protect yourself by using qualified inspectors, hiring specialists as needed, attending in person, understanding the full report, asking questions, negotiating fixes, and re-inspecting repairs. Do not let the excitement of buying a home result in future headaches that could have been avoided. Your family and financial wellbeing over the long haul are worth the time and investment of a quality inspection.