The Importance of Home Inspections-What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know

Dated: December 18 2023

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The Importance of Home Inspections: What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know

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By Teri Silver

Buying a house is probably the biggest financial obligation you’ll ever undertake.Professional home inspections are very important for buyers, sellers, and mortgage lenders.

“Used” houses are bound to have a few issues here and there. After all, they’ve been keeping families sheltered for years … and nothing lasts forever. Home inspections tell buyers what they need to know before the closing papers are signed.

Professional, qualified inspectors typically charge a few hundred dollars for the service, but it’s money well spent. Inspectors identify problems in the structure, walls, roof, basement, and storage areas. They include insect infestations, mold, and problems with electrical systems, heating, and plumbing.

When navigating the real estate process, here are a few points about why home inspections are a must-have.

Negotiations

Home inspections allow would-be buyers to negotiate a lower price for the property, especially if the issues or damages are severe—but not a deal-breaker. Real estate agents can help with these negotiations.

For example, sellers may cut their listing price if the house needs a new furnace, kitchen appliances, central air conditioning, flooring, or mold remediation.

Contingency

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Buyers’ contracts often require contingency plans which allow them to back out of purchasing the property if the inspection finds serious problems within the house’s structure, plumbing, heating, or roof (among other things).

Inspections help buyers determine how much additional money and effort they’re about to undertake for issues like cracked ceilings, walls, or missing roof shingles. Knowing the hidden problems will help you decide on the overall value of the home.

Safety and Protection

Older houses (and some newer buildings) can be affected by “aging” maladies, such as mold, carbon monoxide, radon, and asbestos. Inspecting for these issues is important, as they may be hazardous to your health and safety.

If the house is meant to be a short sale (mortgage lenders take less than the amount owed on the property), inspections are critical—you’re buying the property “as is.” That could mean the house is full of mold or CO2, has mice living in the insulation, or that copper pipes have been removed from the structure.

Guestimate Future Costs

Plumbing, furnaces, electrical systems, water heaters, and air conditioning units can go awry, especially in older homes. Home inspectors note the condition of the building itself, and how long the current systems have been operating in the house.

Having a heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) energy audit is helpful too, because a technician determines the house’s HVAC energy usage. Knowing the age, “shelf life,” and efficiency of the home’s major systems tells you what, if any, major expenses are coming your way soon.

Illegal or Improper Installations

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Houses with upgrades or add-ons may cost more in taxes, fees, and insurance, especially if they’re not up to code.

For example, Atlanta building construction codes have specific requirements for add-ons. Home inspections determine if garages, storage areas, rooms, porches, basements, attics, and bathrooms were altered without acquiring proper building permits or following construction codes.

Buyers become legally and financially responsible for home systems that were not installed to code. Sellers may be protected this way, too, especially if they didn’t discover these changes until after they bought the property.

Insurance and Mortgage Lenders

Business entities must–and will–protect their interests. Insurance companies vary, but some won’t insure a house unless it has been professionally inspected and noted for possible damage. Subsequently, mortgage lenders, banks, or credit unions may not approve a loan unless the property has been certified as “livable” and a viable investment.

It’s easy to fall in love with the perfect house for your homeowner’s dream. But that dream can become a nightmare if you don’t know what you’re in for, before signing on the dotted line. Home inspections give you peace of mind, and fewer negative financial surprises in the long run. For help navigating the complex home buying process, let Avast Realty take the reins.

Teri Silver is a journalist and outdoor enthusiast. She and her husband live on 5 acres with a vast lawn, three gardens, a farm, a pond, many trees, and a lot of yard work! The best parts of the year are summer and fall when home-grown veggies are on the dinner table.

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