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Cold Feet, Wool Socks, and the Home Inspection

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Posted 09-01-2012 at 11:15 AM by Roy Sanborn

I've been busy this week with three home inspections which is great and means I am selling something. Well, sometimes that is. Sometimes, things come unglued because of the home inspection process. Sometimes not. I gotta remember to bring wool socks to my next inspection. It could mean the difference between a successful inspection or not.

The most important step for a home buyer, after choosing which home to purchase that is, is the home inspection itself. A home inspection gives a buyer the comfort and confidence that someone with a trained eye is evaluating the property on his behalf. Every agent I know highly recommends to their buyers to engage the services of a professional home inspector to completely evaluate the condition of the property. Once a buyer has a home under agreement, agents generally provide a list of quality home inspection companies to choose from but buyers are free to utilize any inspector they want and can pick someone from the yellow pages or other sources if they desire.

The inspections have to be completed within a specific time period that is stated in the Purchase and Sales Agreement. The inspection period is usually between 7 and 14 days. Any significant issues or defects that are found during the process, which were not previously disclosed to the buyer, must be presented to the seller within that time frame if the buyer wants them corrected. The home inspection often becomes another point of negotiations if there are any issues. It is a point where deals may fall apart due to issues found that are too difficult or costly to overcome. The home inspection must be satisfactory to the buyer or he has a right to back out of the deal. A buyer can ask the seller to remedy any defects found either by making repairs or by providing some monetary incentive to satisfy him. That usually means a reduction in the purchase price or cash back to the buyer at closing. Sometimes there is agreement, sometimes there's a compromise, and sometimes the deal sinks like the Titanic.

There is a wide range of inspections and tests that can be done on a home; the general building inspection, basic water tests, radon water and air tests, lead paint test, pest tests, and the septic system inspection if the home is not on city sewer. The cost of a home inspection will vary depending on the size of the home and what inspections are to be done. Basic inspections start around $300-350 for a smaller home, water tests can run from $75 to $150, and radon air or water run a little under $100 each. Septic inspections usually go for $200-300.

This week I had one home that passed with flying colors. There were some very minor issues which my buyer felt he would not bother to ask to have corrected. He understands that every home is likely to have some maintenance issues or flaws that may need to be addressed. But in the interest of keeping the transaction on a smooth path he decided he would take care of any repairs later.

The next inspection seemed to go well until we discovered that there may be an issue with the septic. A septic inspection is very important as this can be a rather costly component of a home to fix. Anyway, as a result of the inspection we need to do some further investigation and hopefully will resolve the issue so that the sale can proceed.

Lastly, I had a great inspection on a very nice waterfront home. The buyer hired reputable local inspectors for the building and the septic. He also brought along his "builder" to take a look at his potential new vacation home. There's nothing wrong with that. Nor is there anything wrong with the home or the septic according to the inspection report. But by the time the builder was through advising his friend, they had $100,000 worth of upgrades or potential "future" costs that might or might not happen. They came up with things like; well, we might want to replace the decking with trex, someday we will need a new heating system, and someday the septic will need to be replaced. The long and the short of it is, the buyer got cold feet. If I had only brought some wool socks for him to wear to keep his feet warm he would have bought the place. He spent a lot of time and money in finding a home and then talked himself out of it.Too bad, he's missing a great deal. But you know what? We'll sell it to someone else...

We are fortunate in the Lakes Region to have a number of very qualified and knowledgeable inspectors to choose from. Most have them have been around a long time which says a lot about the quality of the services they provide. Retain their services and listen to their advice, it's money well spent...

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