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  • Writer's pictureKira Witherwax

Home Inspections

The home inspection is one of the most widely known parts of the home buying or selling process. Everyone involved seems to have an opinion on what is, isn't, or should be. Buyers know they want one and sellers want to "pass" one, but there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the home inspection.


In the state of New York, all sellers must allow the buyer to have a home inspection at the buyer's expense. That does not mean they have to fix anything.


Just that the buyer is allowed to have the property inspected. And most buyers do.

Inspection Overview - What Exactly Are They?


The cost of an inspection falls on the buyer so, therefore, the inspector works for them and the report is given to them. Many sellers will pre-inspect their property so that there are no surprises once an offer comes in. This is a great idea, it's better to known sooner than later what may come up in an inspection. First time buyers often ask me if a proper will "pass" a home inspection, and my answer is always the same - there is no such thing as passing (or failing) a home inspection.


The home inspection is for the buyer's knowledge, and it is only the buyer that decides, ultimately, if the home "passes".


The inspection report is thorough and detailed, often 30+ pages long. The longer it is, you may assume means the more there is wrong with the house; but that is not always the case as most inspectors separate items based on how unsafe or big of a defect it is. Every house has minor things that will be flagged during a home inspection, so you could end up with a shorter report with one major item that would cost $30,000 to fix or a longer report with many small items that would only total $3,000. It's important to keep in mind that all houses have something wrong to some degree.


So the question isn’t, does it pass? The question is, am I comfortable with the items found in the home inspection?


The Seller's Side


If you are a seller, keep in mind that this is very subjective. Just like with anything else in life, buyers are filtering the inspection report through their life experiences, knowledge, advice they've received, etc. One buyer may learn that the wiring isn't up to current code and run for the hills. Another may say my uncle is an electrician, he and I can fix that but we'd like a discount since we need to do it. And a third one may say, I grew up in an old house; it doesn't bother me at all.


The terminology can also be confusing. Some lenders and underwriters call the appraisal an inspection, while the appraiser is inspecting the house for certain things, the appraisal is very different than a home inspection.


First, if you're getting a mortgage the appraisal is required by the lender. No one requires you to have a home inspection, but I greatly recommend it. Second, the cost of appraisal is charged to the buyer, but completed for the lender. The appraisal is done in order to determine the value to protect the lender's asset; but the appraiser does also check to make sure the heat, water, and electricity are working.


If you are getting a loan that has PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) or is backed by the government (USDA, FHA, VA) it will be a little more in depth. This is an important step for your loan, but does not replace a thorough home inspection at the end of the day.


My Best Advice...


For all buyers is to meet the home inspector at the end of the inspection to hear about the results directly if at all possible. Yes, you'll get a report the next day but this is a great opportunity for them to directly show you what they found and answer any questions you may have. If you can't be there in person, call them after you receive the report to ask questions and get their feedback.


A great question to ask if something concerning was found is, "how common is this? If this was found in your home, would you fix it?".


And, as with anything, be sure to always hire a professional. You can search https://dos.ny.gov/home-inspector in order to ensure that your home inspector is licensed and certified in New York.

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