Lisa Harrison Rivas - Lifestyle


What to Expect from a Home Inspection

For most people, buying a house is the biggest investment they’ll ever make. People often spend months searching for their dream home, and when they finally find what appears to be it, they can’t wait to buy. But we all know looks can be deceiving, so before the packing starts, it’s a good idea to get a home inspection.


Here’s what you can expect from a home inspection.


First of all, an inspection will be done after the home is under contract, meaning a signed offer has been accepted. If you are working with a real estate agent, he or she can provide a list of licensed inspectors for you to choose from. The house will be inspected for structural defects and pests (crawling critters, not annoying family members).


All lenders require a Wood Destroying Insect Report on pre-existing homes before funds will be advanced for the sale. The report will state if the home has an infestation or damage from a previous infestation and if the house has been previously treated for termites.


Sheds are a haven for termites, so they also should be inspected. One client of mine had an old shed on a property torn down at the buyer’s request. Sure enough, the shed was full of termites and, as is often the case, the house was also infested. The shed was removed, and the seller paid for the termite treatment, which was not cheap.


Keep in mind the Wood Destroying Insect Report must be done within thirty days of closing, so it’s a good idea to have this inspection done last in case there’s a delay in closing.


After the structure of the house is examined, the inspector will issue a report on the roof, foundation, heating and cooling system, electrical system, plumbing, and other visible defects. Common issues inspectors find include damage from moisture, aging roofs, heating/cooling defects, termite damage, and improperly installed insulation.


Cracked or shifting foundations also are common in South Texas. I recall another client who had found what she thought was the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood. The photos online were stunning, and the home looked flawless at the showing. An offer was made and accepted, and she was anxious to move forward with the deal. At last, she would be getting the home she had been waiting for. But then, the inspection report came back, and to her disappointment, that beautiful house in the perfect neighborhood had a cracked foundation. This is a perfect example of looks being deceiving and the precise reason a good licensed inspector is crucial.


In older homes, especially in rural areas, the wiring can be a problem. It’s not uncommon for inspectors to find this to be outdated. In general, they will check to see if the house has sufficient electrical capacity needed to power today’s appliances safely.


Once the inspector finishes the report, you and your agent will receive a copy of it. A decision will be made about which items need to be addressed before moving forward with the deal. The buyer’s agent will send repair requests to the seller’s agent, and both parties should sign off on which items will be repaired. If you are the seller, make sure you keep all of your repair receipts. If you are the buyer, make sure you ask to see them during the final walk-through.


I’m originally from the Midwest, where there are four seasons, so it’s taken me some time to get used to the fact that summer seems to last until mid-October in South Texas. The extra-long summer means air conditioning systems are running most of the year, so potential buyers often request that sellers pay for routine maintenance on the heating and cooling system before closing on the house.


And while it might be tempting to save some cash and have your uncle with a tool belt take a look at the system, I’d recommend that, unless he’s licensed, you politely decline the offer and hire a licensed professional. Remember the state requires a licensed professional, so make sure you check. Inspectors say a lot of the problems they see are caused by unlicensed Mr. Fix-its. I remember one house where the owner tried to “fix” a problem by stuffing a towel in the furnace vent flue. You get the picture.


The buyer, unless he or she is financing with a VA loan, usually pays for both inspections, but like anything else, this is negotiable. The cost varies depending on the size of the house, but expect to spend from $250 to $400. Pest inspections cost around $80. Depending on the inspector, these costs can be paid upfront or at closing.


So now you know what to expect from a home inspection.


Lisa Harrison Rivas is a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Don Johnson, Realtors.®


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