One of the least comfortable points in buying or selling a house can be the home inspection.
If something needs to be repaired or changed, as determined by a home inspection, the matter has to be settled between the buyer and seller. And that can — and sometimes does — break a deal.
Inspections are necessary for the buyer and the seller, said John Thurman, broker/owner of Heart of Texas Realty.
“Sellers need an inspection from the beginning,” Thurman said, “so they can know the issues early and can work proactively to fix them. Buyers must have them to know the condition of the house.
“The point is not to have the house perfect, but to know what you have,” Thurman stressed. “It’s not the point for the seller to fix everything. With an inspection, sellers can know what they are selling, and buyers can know what they are buying.”
Knowing how to select a home inspector, how much it costs and how the inspection factors into the price negotiation can help the buying and selling process flow much smoother.
The Internet is a good way for buyers and sellers to select a reputable home inspector, said Mark Eberwine, himself a home inspector. The public can scout for a good inspector by reviewing previous customer reviews/feedback of potential home inspectors.
Inspections will cost in a range roughly between $325 and $1,000, depending on the size, age and type of construction of the house, Eberwine said. Inspections on small, new houses may be about $325. For a large, old house, say more than 75 years old, an inspection will be at the higher end of the range, he said.
Thurman and Eberwine agree that the best time for the buyer to have a house inspected is right after the potential buyer signs a purchase, or earnest money, contract with the seller. “As soon as the ink is dry,” Thurman said.
The contract should include a seven- to 10-day exemption period during which the inspection occurs. Once the inspection report is written, the buyer and seller can negotiate about who would pay for changes or repairs and whether not to do them, to sell “as is,” perhaps at a different price.
Problems can include issues such as mold, faulty construction and termites, Thurman said.
If no agreement can be reached, the buyer has the right terminate the purchase contract and receive back the earnest money, Eberwine said.
With an exemption period, the post-inspection negotiation process usually works smoothly, Thurman said.
Eberwine said that in the case of a foreclosed or repossessed house, or a house sold as part of an estate sale, an inspection should be conducted before a purchase contract is signed because banks or mortgage companies usually won’t agree to repairs or changes after the inspection. Such houses normally are sold “as is.”
Eberwine acknowledged that buyers have an option outside of home inspectors, who use state-regulated forms for their services.
If sellers agree, buyers can have structural engineers do inspections of the systems in which they are experts, such as foundations, roofs, siding, electrical lines, plumbing, heating-venting-air-conditioning, swimming pools, sprinkler systems and appliances.
The costs will be higher for the engineer inspections, and the buyer may have trouble scheduling all the engineers into the seven- to 10-day earnest money contract exemption period. “You have to coordinate and pay all of these people, but this is legal,” Eberwine said.
Eberwine compared a home inspection as similar to a patient receiving a physical examination from a general physician.
“If the doctor hears an irregular heartbeat, the patient will need to get an expert. It’s the same for houses. You may need to get a HVAC (heating-venting-air-conditioning) guy to get a definitive answer. Now you would have a total picture,” Eberwine said.
Texas is the only state that has a regulated, mandated form for home inspectors to use, he said. Inspectors in other states can use their own check-off forms. Eberwine said the state regulation stifles the amount of information inspectors can share with consumers by limiting the systems and situations they can inspect.
The Texas Real Estate Commission, which oversees and licenses home inspectors, is studying proposed changes to the inspection form. Some inspectors, including Eberwine, warn the changes would water down the information inspectors can give about house systems that could have problems, even if they are in working condition on the day of the inspection.
Article Written By: David Hendricks at San Antonio Express-News
For residential and commercial property inspections, Mold testing or HERS rating services in the Sacramento and Bay Area please contact Golden State Home Inspections at 800.441.0804 or visit: http://www.goldenstatehomeinspections.com