I was attending a seminar yesterday where the topic of home inspections came up. A fellow agent chimed into the conversation saying, “Twenty years ago buyers rarely did a home inspection before buying a house.”
Although it might have been the norm to skip doing a home inspection prior to buying a house a couple decades ago, the norm has definitely changed. I thought I would share some important tips to remember regarding home inspections and why I feel they are important.
The main objective of a home inspection is to help uncover any defects with the property (this includes the house and the land immediately surrounding it). Usually, the average buyer or seller is not trained to identify the technical components in a house that could cause physical or financial harm immediately or down the road. Therefore, it is extremely important to hire a qualified home inspector to do a thorough inspection for you.
Why Should You Do a Home Inspection?
- The primary reason to do a home inspection is to find out if the home has any major issues. If the home inspection does identify substantial issues usually the seller and buyer will come to an agreement to amend the purchase price to reflect the cost you will incur to fix the problem(s) when you take possession. However, if the problems are too major you would need to decide if you want to walk away from this property which would leave your offer null and void. You would be able to do this if you had a home inspection condition in your offer.
- In a hot seller’s market (which is what we have been experiencing lately), there are more buyers than there are sellers. Often this means that properties are receiving multiple offers at a time and things can get a little intense. This is definitely the case in the Toronto market, especially when it comes to detached homes in hot neighbourhoods. One strategy I like to suggest if I know you realllly like the house is to get a home inspection done prior to submitting an offer. This means that we can submit the offer to the sellers without a condition on a home inspection (because we have already done it). This can make your offer look more attractive than the competing offers since the other offers might still have their home inspection condition included.
What To Expect During The Home Inspection
- A professional home inspector will examine the interior and exterior of the property, including the roof, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, foundation, grading, and the attic. He/she will likely have several gadgets that they use to measure temperature and moisture.
- I ask that all my clients attend the home inspection and you and I will be the home inspector’s shadow. If you observe everything the home inspector observes you will be able to ask any questions that you may have as they arise. If you are going to end up buying this house, it is a great opportunity to learn some great home maintenance tips from the home inspector.
- After the home inspection, the home inspector will provide you with a full report about his/her findings, including photos. This is a great document to keep on hand for future reference.
Should I Do a Home Inspection With a Condo or New Home?
- Ultimately, the decision is up to you if you want to do a home inspection for a condo or not, and I know a lot of people decide not to do an inspection if they are buying a condo or a new home. However, I think it is definitely beneficial to still do a home inspection, if for nothing else than to familiarize yourself with the technical side of your potential new home and to learn some home maintenance tips.
- A special note on new homes – there is a perception that if a home is new (a couple of years old or less) that there hasn’t been any time for something to go wrong yet. However, this is not always the case. For example, foundation cracks and broken pipes happen in new homes and old homes. Just because a home is new does not make it immune to problems.
Remember that no house is perfect and even a house that has been really well maintained may have a few things that need to be attended to. Finding these things out before you remove your home inspection condition and take possession is the best way to protect yourself as a home buyer.
The cost of a home inspection typically depends on the size of the house, but on average would be in the range of $300-$500. If you are contemplating spending several hundreds of thousands of dollars on your new home, this is a small investment in the grand scheme of things, and a smart step to include in your home buying process.