Congratulations, getting a home inspection is arguably the one most beneficial step a prospective homebuyer undertakes. A contract with a Home Inspection Contingency is for your utmost benefit, so move quickly. During this time, you generally have upwards of 14 days to get your home inspection completed.
Home inspectors examine readily accessible areas, systems, and conditions of a home. Using both visual and normal operating controls in accordance with state and association Standards of Practice. But you may be unfamiliar with what a home inspection entails and the significance of it. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to provide you with insight from a home inspector’s perspective.
As lawsuits were becoming more prevalent following real estate transactions, the need for home inspections increased. Real estate attorneys, agents, lenders and others involved in the transaction process will strongly recommend you have the property inspected. Documents you will review and sign over the course of your transaction also include a written disclaimer to do so. Home inspectors are not tied to the real estate company, appraiser, or your lender; only to you.
Home inspectors are one of the key people involved in the real estate transaction. They provide clients with a written professional, unbiased evaluation of the subject property’s exterior and interior systems and condition. Primarily looking for major defects, and other conditions that will or is already impacting the home and safety of occupants. In addition to educational information on the subject property; e.g. quality of workmanship, pros, and cons of a forced-air heating system. Or the problems caused by too many layers of roof sheathing.
To clarify, homebuyers do not receive all the pertinent details upfront when looking at a home you intend to purchase. You receive information that assists sellers and real estate agents in attracting qualified buyers. Let’s call these the strengths of the home. However, a home inspector will provide you with a report that highlights the current state on the home’s observable conditions. In short, this will lend to both the strengths and weaknesses of a home its age.
As a result, this leads to why many deals are closed after the home inspection report on the subject property appears favorable. Just as many deals fall apart due to an unfavorable report of the subject property. Home inspections shed light on the hidden cost of homeownership.
How Do I Quickly Spot a good home inspector?
Look for someone who can deliver the report within 24 hours, with digital photographs included. Ask if they carry both General Liability and Errors and Omissions insurance. Also, check to see if they hold a current membership with the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). This is indicative that the inspector you intend to hire is staying current with industry changes, educational requirements, following a Standards of Practice, and adhering to the strict code of ethics, in addition to state licensing standards. The option to view a sample report in advance is also very helpful, as not all inspection reports are written in an easy to understand format. Also, if an inspector does not make it clear what advantages they offer, just ask them, as some services are of far more value to you than others. Scan through the company website, a website with no content of usefulness to you may be indicative of a report with little information packed inside to assist you in making an informed decision.
While sellers should document any known defects both past and present in a Property Condition Disclosure Statement (More info here) it is optional and the questions are limited. Current owners of the property are not always 100% honest on conditions, or aware of all issues prior to their ownership of the home which makes sellers reluctant to produce this document.
A home inspection in NYC is commonly performed on behalf of the buyer(s). However, pre-listing home inspections have gained traction with sellers. Your report, accompanied by the Seller’s Disclosure Statement, when readily available, gives the buyer(s) the greatest overview of the subject property. But, the Property Condition Disclosure Statement (sample doc here) is not a substitute for a home inspection and this is written into the document itself.
In short, home inspections are not based on a pass or fail assessment.
Rather, the inspection and subsequently the report will address problems with the home, and safety concerns to occupants, that were observed. The report is a useful guide on the home in general, especially for first-time homebuyers.
In fact, most homes sold here on the East Coast were built in the early to late 1900s. Now imagine the upkeep required to maintain these homes today, factor in the life expectancy of components, etc. Even with new construction, no home will be perfect.
It is then up to you, the home buyer to weigh your risk tolerance using all readily available information. This is another important reason for getting a home inspection in NYC. With a home inspection report in hand, buyers usually, negotiate, back out of the deal, or accept the home as-is.
One buyer may opt to overlook the issues addressed in the inspection report because they love the neighborhood and home. Another buyer may back out of the deal if presented the same report. A home inspector’s duty is to observe and report. It is usually the clients that concluded if the home passed or failed.
Currently, this is not standard practice in New York. However, for agents, buyers, and sellers who are interested in acquiring repair estimates in connection with a real estate transaction, please read our post, Cost to Repair Estimates
If you decided to skip the home inspection you are not in the clear just yet, if you will carry a loan (mortgage). For instance, the insurance company takes notice of this and written into their own underwriting policies, states that they have a right to do their own home insurance inspection before writing a new homeowner’s policy or within a set time after the transfer of the home.
Consequently, the insurance company findings, then turn up many safety, mechanical, structural, and other issues with the home you just purchased or will be closing on. Now, your policy may be canceled if all critical repairs are not made in a reasonable time, or, you’re forced to raise your deductible and if not, pay a higher premium. A home inspector would’ve pointed out all the problems earlier, especially key components also reviewed by the insurance companies, but remember you opted to skip that inspection! These roads are too tricky to navigate on your own, take the help of professionals. For an external article that covers reasons not to skip the home inspection, see Investopedia/10-reasons-you-shouldn’t-skip-a-home-inspection.aspx
A home inspector observes and provides a written report of the systems and conditions of a residential building including but not limited to:
Lenders initiate the request for an appraisal at the expense of the buyer when a loan is needed. Therefore, this assessment is designed for and protects the lending institutions and aids them in establishing the fair amount value of the home in relation to the loan amount requested.
The standard report commonly used by appraisers, independent or not, as seen here (Uniform Residential Appraisal Report) only has 1 section of the systems of the home. Typical on-site assessment time ranges from 30 minutes to 1 hour, this is dependent upon how much comparable data were already at hand, size, and location of the home being assessed. The report belongs to the lending institution.
On the other hand, a buyer or seller may initiate getting a home inspection. This is to protect their own self-interest, become better educated on the home strengths and weaknesses, and or assess current and foreseeable maintenance issues during the time of inspection. Typical on-site assessment time ranges from 3–4 hours on average, your assessment report is customized to the home inspected only. The report belongs to whoever initiated the request for the home inspection (buyer or seller).
In short, neither the appraisal nor home inspection report is a substitute for the other, as they are designed for different purposes. However, both reports are a value of opinion that can aid in pushing the deal forward or stop the transaction until the issues are addressed.
Reasons to have your home inspected by a licensed home inspector is due to the knowledge base they offer buyers & sellers, the unbiased perspective, and affordability of such an in-depth service.
To clarify, imagine having to hire and pay out of pocket for a roofer, electrician, HVAC technician, plumber, engineer, mold and termite assessors; and then having to get them all scheduled on the same date to conduct separate inspections. Then getting back all these reports before the contingency deadline and getting one concise story of the subject property.
In short, this is not a practical approach, it would be extremely costly and a logistical nightmare to oversee. See our home inspector’s inspection versus specialist infographic here. Homeowners themselves would not be fond of that amount of foot traffic, not in one day or one week. Not to mention, the most of the specialist assessments would require some form of dismantling components of the subject property you do not yet own.
On the other hand, an experienced and educated home inspector has the basic knowledge base of all the above-listed specialists. If needed, we will point out items, areas, raising a concern and why. Then point you in the direction of the specialist who would best handle that specific situation. Secondly, a home inspector has no interest in bidding for any projects once you are the new homeowner.
You can start by asking family, friends, co-workers, neighbors you know and trust if they are familiar with a home inspection company. Search online, you can also search through ASHI.(com) and InterNACHI.(com) database for a list of active members and the site will have a link to the individual’s website and or contact information otherwise. These are the two largest and most respected home inspection organizations most home inspectors are affiliated with. You can also ask your attorney or the real estate agent that is assisting you, for a shortlist of inspectors they are familiar with.
You select the home inspector you wish to work with. Efficient agents, lenders, lawyers, and the likes may already have a shortlist of home inspectors their previous clients have used and will recommend if asked to. But buyers need to perform their own due diligence when it comes to knowing the steps involved and the key people involved in a real estate transaction. As you prepare to become new homeowners, building your own network of people that know homes will prove beneficial to you.
While it may be easier for you to see firsthand, then review the report with better understanding, it is also quite normal that the potential buyer, you, may not be available for various reasons. Just make sure the inspector you plan to hire will write up an easy to understand report. Provide plenty of photographs of everything inspected, limitations, and can validate with further proof the time/length of his or her time at the property you wanted to be inspected.
Furthermore, make sure they can set-up time to go over anything you wish to be explained further. Also, review an inspector’s sample report and ask yourself, is this something I would understand if I did not attend the inspection. If the pre-inspection agreement has been signed beforehand and payment received, most inspectors know how to proceed without the client present.
The going price of a home inspection in New York City and Long Island varies greatly. You will find that many home inspector websites do not list fees while others do. Our research of the local NYC market has turned up prices of $350 ranging upwards to 1% of the selling price, for a single-family home. For comparison, our home inspection prices are listed here.
It will depend on the age and size of the home and not just square footage, but in terms of one-two- three-family or condo styled home. Level of service desired as some home inspectors do the bare minimum inspection while others include a package deal or optional add-on services. The most commonly requested add-on services in NYC by request tends to be mold, termite, thermal imaging, and the cost to repair estimates.
Location is also another important factor, you may find a cheap inspector in one borough, but are they willing to travel out for the same price. Location of the home to be inspected is also another factor, in a zip-code where home prices go for say 700k and up, some inspectors charge more.
Price is also affected by the home inspector you select. Some home inspectors work for a multi-inspector company or franchise, while other inspectors are a one-two person operation. Additional experience, licenses, certifications, choice of reporting format, also lend to an increase in service prices.
Choosing a reliable home inspector in NYC may be tricky. Be aware that not all inspectors use equipment as it is not a requirement. But a thermal camera, digital camera, circuit analyzer, CO sensor, moisture meter, and ladder, go a long way in assisting them to provide you with a stronger assessment of the subject property.
Not all are affiliated with either of the National home inspection organizations. Not all inspectors are properly licensed to perform environmental services that require a specific license in New York to conduct (termite/mold assessment). Nor do they check the roof, crawlspace, outbuilding, and or take photographs or spend enough time on the site. Again, ask your potential inspector questions on what is included for the price of service(s) performed. Usually but not always, the depth of service offered is a key difference between one inspection company quoting you $350 and another quoting you $450 for that single-family home inspection.
Much goes into getting a thorough home inspection. Do not take the term “visually” lightly, home inspectors are considered analytical thinkers. To produce a quality home inspection report in which home buyers use as a decision-making tool, we inspectors must gather as much relevant information on the home that we see and can uncover within a few hours.
Home inspectors must identify conditions ranging from 300 to 1000 plus data points if using modern software as a reporting tool. On average, a thorough one family home inspection can easily range from 2½ to 3 hours on-site and another 2 hours spent on writing or inputting data for your report.
Inspections usually take longer for larger homes, home with additions, homes with above average to severe problems, and due to the speed in which the inspector can move freely through the home without limitations and interruptions.
Depending on the reporting format of the home inspector you hire, their reporting turnaround will vary. Some inspectors will a pre-formatted checklist-style report. This is to say, it cannot be customized to specific home styles. Do not expect pictures to be included or in-depth annotation. Consequently, it can appear cryptic in terms of readability, and as a result, leaves much to be desired. However, the pros of the checklist-style are that your inspection report can be completed on-site. Allowing to you, and your agent to stay competitive among other bidders for the home.
Likewise, some inspectors use a combination of checklist on-site and transfer over this data to software off-site. The pros of this are, your inspector may produce for you a summary report on-site. But, may need to make numerous edits before the final report is produced. To clarify, most inspection software requires more data point entries than the generic checklist. This will require an inspector to remember a lot about the property off-site. Which can drastically change the outlook of the verbal or written summary provided on-site.
Lastly, other inspectors will use computerized software on and off-site. Providing you with a report that is readable with photographs, summary sections, usually within 24 hours or less. This method, of course, requires a bit more time and structure when in the field, especially with the addition of photographs. Computerized reports may be information overload, requiring you to print out your 25+ page report yourself, if hard to read online.