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February 3, 2016

What To Look Out For On A Home Inspection

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A home inspection is one of the most critical junctures in a real estate transaction. If a deal is going to fall through, this is usually the time at which it happens. The other critical issue that typically sinks real estate deals is financing.

It is highly recommended that every home buyer, first time or otherwise, order a home inspection on the property they are under contract to buy. In fact, it is typically considered a ‘Fiduciary Responsibility’ of the buyer’s Real Estate Agent to ensure their client does a home inspection so the client is protected from any unknown issues the home may have.

Further, almost all lenders also require a home inspection as part of their financing commitment when providing a loan to a buyer for the purchase of the property. Since the house is serving as the collateral on which the loan is secured, it is critical for the lender to understand the quality of that collateral. A home inspection helps assure them that the security for their loan is void of any major issues that will negatively impact the property’s value.

What should buyers and sellers focus on when looking at a home inspection report?  Read on to find out…

Major Areas Of Concern On A Home Inspection

Individuals who are looking at a home inspection report in Washington DC should focus on major, high ticket items that come up as problematic on the home inspection report- such as the foundation, electrical system, plumbing system, and the roof.  Since these are the most important systems in the home, and also the most costly to repair, these are what a buyer should be most focused on. ‘Small stuff,’ like missing screens, doors that stick, missing doorway thresholds, etc, are not usually anything to worry about. And the reality is, when asking for repairs from a home seller, it is best to be judicious with what items you ask the seller to fix- fewer items that are higher price point will often be received better than long laundry list of less expensive repairs.

Foundation/Structural Problems

This is probably the single most important potential problem that may be uncovered from a home inspection, as the entire structure of the home could be at risk with a major foundation issue. Typically, as long as floors, ceilings, and walls are straight, and doors open and close normally, any foundation problems that come up will be more minor- like cracks in the foundation. However, even with these minor issues, it could still cost somewhere between $5K and $15K if something like Helical Piers are needed to reinforce a settling corner of the foundation. A good rule of thumb that we use when renovating properties is that any small foundation issue will take around $10K to fix. If it’s a more significant issue, like a cracked or bowing wall, then the cost will go up dramatically.

On a house we renovated in Lanham, we had to completely tear down and rebuild a basement wall in a 1,000 square foot rambler basement, which ended up costing around $45,000.  If any structural or foundation issue is uncovered by the inspection, the buyer will have the option to walk away from the deal using the home inspection contingency that is in almost every offer. Or, if the buyer would still like to buy the house, write into the inspection addendum that the issue must be evaluated by a structural engineer of the BUYER’S choosing, and any recommended repairs made at seller’s expense.

Leaky Roof

The best way to spot a leaky roof is to look inside the attic.  Any worthwhile home inspector will go into the attic (make sure that the seller has provided some means of attic access), and will also often go on top of the roof. It is HIGHLY recommended to find an inspector with a long ladder that will always physically go onto the roof, as many issues can’t be uncovered unless the inspector is literally on top of the roof. If a roof leak is uncovered on a buyer’s home inspection, the buyer’s best bet is to write into the inspection addendum to have the roof further evaluated by a licensed roofer of the buyer’s choosing and any repairs made by the seller at their expense. If seller will not agree to this and will only agree to use their roofer, this opens the buyer to more risk, but can still be workable as long as seller provides a written report and proof of license from the roofer. Often, the best course of action if a roof has more than 1 or 2  leaks is to replace the entire roof, which can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000.

Electrical Problems

There are 2 main electrical systems in the house- the main electrical meter and panel, which is where the power from the street attaches to the house and is the way all the power is provided to the house, and the internal system, which goes from the electrical panel to all the various outlets and switches inside the house. Any issues with the main electrical panel will be most costly to repair, while a few non working outlets or switches is usually not particularly costly and is something that most seller’s should have no problems with fixing.

Dealing With Major Problems Revealed On Inspection Reports In Washington DC

Those homeowners who find that that they have major problems with their property in Washington DC often decide to simply sell their real estate to an investor who specializes in such sales.  The advantages of doing so are plentiful, real estate investors are able to complete the sale quickly, with cash, and allow homeowners a way out of their property without the stress and headache of costly repairs.