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Thousands of Dollars and Years of Regret

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The saving value of a home inspection

A professional home inspection can be a crucial step in the process of buying and selling a home. Not only does a buyer gain more insight into the overall condition of the home he/she is about to purchase, but it can also serve as a negotiating tool.

     Most sellers flinch at the phrase “contingent upon a home inspection,” viewing a home inspection as a deal killer. However, a home inspection can offer some valuable protection from liability claims against the seller by bringing adverse material facts about the property to the seller's attention so he can either fix the problems before putting the house on the market, or disclose the problems in writing to the buyer. In doing this, problems with the home will be less likely to surface in a future dispute after both parties have signed on the dotted line.

     A home inspection also includes the positive aspects about a home, which can reassure a buyer he/she is making a sound investment and encourage her to close the sale.

     Wise sellers will seek out the services of a professional home inspector prior to marketing the property. Wise buyers will seek out the services of a professional home inspector prior to closing the sale, even if a seller has already had a home inspection done on the property. Each party needs to interview and hire a professional of her choice in order to be able to rest assured the home inspection report is current and meets each party's individual standard of service.

     There are a few items to look for when hiring a home inspector in order to make sure the service you receive meets the standard you expect. To date there are no federal or state laws regulating the home inspection industry, allowing just about anyone to hang a shingle and call himself a home inspector. However, an inspector who is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is held to a professional code of ethics and formal inspection guidelines. ASHI can be contacted at (800) 743-ASHI for a list of members across in different locations across the nation.

     When interviewing home inspectors look for someone with a strong background in the building, architectural and/or engineering fields and someone who has an in-depth understanding of the various aspects of construction. It is also important to find an inspector who is familiar with the area in which the home is located so he will be able to foresee potential problems associated with area’s climate and special needs. Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions about the guidelines the inspector uses during the inspection. Most qualified home inspectors don’t mind being interviewed by potential clients. A good inspector will happily provide references from past clients and will give you a sample draft of the report you will be paying for. Be sure to interview at least three different inspectors and his/her past clients before making your hiring decision.

     The actual inspection itself is an overview of the building’s current condition. The job of the inspector is merely to provide a thorough report on the home. A valid home inspection report does not include suggestions on how to remedy problems and absolutely should not refer the client to individuals who can perform the repairs (to do so would be a conflict of interest). A standard home inspection report usually covers the structural components of a home, including the foundation, roof, crawl area, exterior siding, ceilings, floors, walls, heating systems, plumbing fixtures, electrical service, insulation, venting, evidence of rodents or insects, and more.

     Make sure you receive a written copy of the inspection report as soon after the inspection as possible. The report should be written in an easy to understand format using layman language and should provide a detailed, comprehensive narrative about the condition of the home. A qualified inspector will make himself available to his client for additional questions after the inspection is complete.

     The price of a home inspection largely depends on the size and location of the home. Generally, an inspection for an average sized home in our area costs around three hundred and fifty dollars. This may seem like an extravagant expense, especially at a time when ten-dollar window fixtures can often determine whether or not the sale will close. But in the long run, a home inspection could save both buyers and sellers thousands of dollars and years of regret.

      Paige Wilson is a Licensed Assistant with Realty Northwest, a professional real estate brokerage in scenic northwest Montana, five miles west of Thompson Falls.

 

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DISCLOSURE: All information is from sources deemed to be reliable and accurate, but not warranted by Realty Northwest. Information subject to change without notice. Potential purchasers and agents are strongly urged to verify all statements contained herein to their own satisfaction.
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