Show Up for Inspection (and Bring Your Agent)
It’s inspection day, and the honor of your — and your agent’s — presence is not required, but highly recommended. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings later on, being there gives you a chance to ask questions, and to learn the inner workings of the home.
Block out two to three hours for the inspection. The inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes checking water pressure; leaks in the attic, plumbing, etc.; if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue);
if electrical wiring is up to code; if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working; if appliances work properly. Outside, he or she will look at things like siding, fencing, and drainage.
Get Ready to Negotiate
Once you receive the inspector’s report, review it with your agent.
Legally, sellers are required to make certain repairs. These can vary depending on location. Most sales contracts require the seller to fix:
- Structural defects
- Building code violations
- Safety issues
Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switchplate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and- diming the seller.
If there are major issues with the house, your
agent can submit a formal request for repairs that includes a copy of the
inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance: Instead of saying “repair
broken windows,” a request should
say “replace broken window glass in master bathroom.”
If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests:
He or she must provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer:
He or she will state which repairs (or credits at closing) he or she is willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer, or void the transaction.
At the end of the day, remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to move into the close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.
The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.
That’s something to feel good about.
These Home Appraisal Tips Are for You
What to expect, when to negotiate, and how to deal when things don’t go your way.
Most people have deeply personal reasons for wanting to buy a home.
Maybe it’s the bathroom that feels like a dreamy, modern spa. Or that two-tiered deck just made for parties.
Your lender doesn’t care about the freestanding tub. Or the built-in outdoor fire pit. Their only concern is that the house you buy is worth as much as the value of your mortgage.
To them, a house isn’t a home. It’s collateral. (Harsh, but true.) If someday, for some reason, you can’t make your mortgage payments, the lender can foreclose on the home and sell it to recoup all or some of its costs. (Even harsher, but also true.)
For that reason, a home must be valued at, or above, the agreed-upon purchase price, and this has to happen before you can close on a house. That’s where a home appraiser comes in.
A Home Appraiser Is Neutral (Like Switzerland)
After you sign a home purchase agreement (the contract between you and the seller about the terms of the pending sale), and before your lender approves your loan, the home you’re buying must pass an appraisal — an assessment of the property’s value by an unbiased third party: the appraiser.
An appraiser is a state-licensed or -certified professional. Their job is to assess an opinion of value — how much a house is worth. The appraiser is on no one’s side. They don’t represent you or the seller; instead, this person is a contractor chosen by your lender through an appraisal management company (AMC), a separate, neutral entity that maintains a roster of appraisers.
Appraisers survey a house in person, using five main criteria to determine the value of a home:
- Additions or renovations
- Recent sales of comparable homes