Congratulations, a home inspection is arguably the one most beneficial step a prospective homebuyer undertakes. When you reached the stage where you intend to purchase or may have already signed a contract with a Home Inspection Contingency in place, you generally have upwards of 14 days to get your home inspection completed.
Real estate attorneys, real estate agents, lenders and others involved in the transaction process will strongly recommend you have the property inspected. Several documents you will review and sign over the course of your transaction will 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.
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.
A key player in the real estate transaction
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 components. Looking primarily for major defects, and other conditions that will or are already impacting the home systems and safety of occupants. This, 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.
As a home buyer, you 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. Now, a home inspector will provide you with a report following the inspection that highlights the current state on the home’s observable conditions. This will lend to the strengths and weaknesses of a home its age.
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, deferred maintenance issues within these homes often overlooked by untrained eyes, and certainly overlooked during an open house.
Having the home you intend to purchase evaluated by a home inspector lends 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. Inspections shed light on the hidden cost of homeownership.
The issue with only using the Property Condition Disclosure Statement sellers provide
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 is commonly performed on behalf of the buyer(s), but pre-listing 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.
Top reasons to get a home inspection
- First-time homebuyer(s).
- Be informed on items in need of repair, unsafe modifications, aging systems.
- Property is listed as, For Sale By Owner (FSBO).
- Home has been on the market for longer than 60 days.
- Home is listed “as-is”.
- Lender/Insurance request review of report.
- Price seems too Low/high.
- If it is an FHA/HUD/vacant home.
- To compare with Seller’s Disclosure form.
- When no Seller’s Disclosure form was produced.
- Seller(s) offered you a closing credit if you forgo the inspection.
- You only viewed the home once, via an open house or online tour.
- You notice some shoddy Do It Yourself-ers workmanship in the home.
How beneficial is a home inspection report?
- Assurance With a purchase this large, a detailed inspection report adds to your buying confidence.
- Educated in the homestyle strengths and weaknesses, main systems, locations, and how they function. For many people now searching for a home, this will be a first-time home purchase.
- Maintenance/repair/replacement needs with a home inspection report as a reference point, you can prioritize what should be immediate versus future needs of the home you are considering for purchase. Besides closing cost, moving expenses, and new furniture, you may inherit a home needing immediate repair work. A home inspection report is therefore invaluable when looking at your intended purchase objectively. (Sample here)
- Negotiate a better price with the seller if you determine you are justified to do so or at least negotiate a credit from the seller(s) towards the closing cost. With an inspection report in hand, ask yourself are the problems significant enough for you to handle on your own or not, will they affect your use of the home as intended? Are the defects, major or minor? Your real estate agent can assist you in negotiating with the seller for a reduced price of the home as an alternative to repair or replacement of items before closing.
Repair estimates and the home inspection report?
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
Let’s say you opt to skip your home inspection contingency!
If you decided to skip over the home inspection you are not in the clear just yet, if you will carry a loan (mortgage). Now, 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.
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.
What is covered in a home inspection report?
A home inspection or property inspection is defined as the process by which a home inspector observes and provides a written report of the systems and components of a residential building including but not limited to:
- The building envelope, roof, gutters, penetrations;
- Heating System;
- Cooling System;
- Plumbing System;
- Electrical System;
- Interior components;
- Property grounds; grading,
Do not confuse the home appraisal and home inspection reports!
Lenders initiate the request for an appraisal at the expense of the buyer when a loan is needed. 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.
Now, a Buyer or Seller may initiate the request of 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. The report used by a licensed home inspector covers core areas in detail: Exterior grounds, Roof System, Plumbing System, Electrical System, HVAC Systems, Interior, Insulation and Ventilation, Fireplaces, and Attics. Typical on-site assessment time ranges from 2- 3 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).
Neither the appraisal or 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. In some cases, the appraiser and or lending institution may request to review the home inspection report, more common in matters if the appraisal came in low. This is when a home inspection goes from being “optional” to being a key part of your transaction.
Why hire a home inspector versus a general contractor or other specialists?
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.
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.
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 majority of the specialist assessments would require some form of dismantling components of the subject property you do not yet own.
Now, an experienced and educated home inspector has the basic knowledge base of all the above-listed specialist. If needed, 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.
Where to find a home inspector near me?
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.
If you plan on working with us here at Kingsmen Home Inspection Services, you can navigate to our Welcomepage
and follow the suggestions listed on that page.
Who hires the Home Inspector?
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.
What if I cannot be present during the home inspection due to my work schedule/travel arrangements?
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. As long as the pre-inspection agreement has been signed beforehand and payment received, most inspectors know how to proceed without the client present.
How much should you expect to pay for a home inspection in NYC?
The going price of a home inspection anywhere in the five boroughs of New York City and Long Island varies greatly. You will find that many inspector websites do not list a fee schedule 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. 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 $600k 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.
Inspecting your potential inspector
Be aware that not all inspectors use equipment as it is actually 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.
How long does a home inspection take to be completed?
Home inspectors have to identify the conditions anywhere from 300 to 1000 plus data points. On average, a thorough one family home inspection can easily range from 2½ to 3 hours on-site and another 1½ -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.
Inspection report turnaround factors
Depending on the reporting format of the home inspector you hire, his/her reporting turnaround will vary as well. In basic terms, some inspectors will use a general pre-formatted checklist style of reporting, which cannot be customized to specific home styles, can appear cryptic in terms of readability, and leaves much to be desired.
The pro’s of the checklist-style is that your inspection report can be completed on-site, but do not expect pictures to be included or in-depth annotation with each data point.
Some inspectors use a combination of checklist on-site and transfer over this data to software off-site. The pro’s of this is, your inspector may produce for you a summary report on-site or via email before leaving the inspection site; but may need to make numerous edits, worst case scenario a second trip to the home before the final report is produced. As some inspection software requires more data point entries than the generic checklist, and this will require the inspector to remember a lot about the property off-site.
Lastly, other inspectors will use computerized software on and off-site and provide you with a report that is readable with photographs, summary sections, usually within 24 hours.
The benefit associated with this option is that the latest programs are designed to catch common reporting errors. This ensures your inspector is going through every section of the report in a structured manner while on-site. This method, of course, requires a bit more time and structure when in the field, especially with the addition of photographs.
Again, depending on your inspector’s overall speed, the number of issues found in the home to report on, photographs that will be used in the inspection report, reporting style, additional services requested, the time will vary in which the report is completed and then turned over to you the client. Always ask for the average turnaround time, especially when you are short on inspection contingency time and or when you know a seller(s) has or may have multiple offers on the subject home.