Home Inspections: 5 Frequently Asked Questions for Buyers and Sellers
When it comes to buying and selling homes, home inspections are among the most nerve-wracking and essential processes. The purpose of the home inspection is to ensure the sound condition of the home and to identify any additional repairs (and related expenses) that must occur. Home inspections can reveal a home’s deepest, darkest secrets: from termites in the basement to malfunctioning oil tanks and electrical wiring not up to code.
There are plenty of reasons for prospective sellers and new homeowners to be nervous about home inspections, but understanding the process and arming yourself with accurate information can help.
Let’s demystify the home inspection process.
Can a home inspection break a pending contract and what is a home inspection contingency?
When two parties begin the home sale process and are confident about the sale, they need a pending contract in place to move forward. Your real estate agent and/or lawyer (if for sale, by owner) will ensure that gets underway smoothly.
The acceptance of offer and contract are just the beginning of the process. The follow up involves a home inspection. Most contracts must include a home inspection contingency in case the inspector finds problems during inspection. This both protects the home buyer and, in some cases, allows the seller time to fix the problem to resume the sale.
It’s important to establish and remain aware of your home inspection contingency dates, as buyer or seller. Additionally, a failed home inspection component does not have to mean the end of the sale: the buyer may re-negotiate with a lower offer.
What happens if I cannot afford a home inspection during the sales process?
The seller is rarely responsible for the home inspection process. Since the process is in place to shield the buyer, the buyer bears the responsibility of home inspection costs. As you cannot skip the process, you should have costs on hand to pay for the home inspection.
As a buyer, you should consider the cost of home inspection before you are ready to make an offer on a new home.
How much does a home inspection cost?
Home inspections vary, but they usually cost around $500 or less in Florida, bundled with radon and mold. The home inspection cost varies based upon the size of the home in question.
How do you evaluate a contractor to perform home inspections?
Your trusted real estate agent should be able to recommend a reputable local inspector. InternACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) and ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) are home inspector organizations; it’s recommended that you find an inspector affiliated with one or both of these organizations.
You should also do your homework: check with the local Better Business Bureau and look up reviews online.
What kind of home inspections must a house pass in Florida?
In Florida and other southern states, it’s imperative to check homes and other structures for termites and termite damage.
- Electrical systems
- Attic (if applicable)
- Basement (though homes rarely have full basements in Florida)
- Doors and windows
- Structural components
Full termite and pest inspections, mold inspections, and radon inspections are not included in standard inspections. If you’re the buyer, we recommend getting these additional inspections as well. Your home inspector will notify you of any obvious signs of pests, termite damage, or mold, but they will not conduct detailed investigations for these issues.
Additionally, many Florida homes also have pools. Please make sure to get an additional pool inspection. Your pool inspector should also check out the fence surrounding your pool. Save these records for your insurance company.
For more information on home inspection components, consult ASHI’s standards.
If a home fails inspection, can I still buy or sell it? How?
Yes. The deal can still go through if the seller repairs what didn’t pass. Sometimes this is written into the contract, but other times, a new contract (or extension/amendment) must be made. The buyer is not obligated to purchase the home if the repairs are not made (and inspection not passed) by the date stated in the contract.
Remember: the home inspection is in place to protect the buyer’s investment, but it doesn’t mean a home isn’t sellable if it doesn’t pass. If you’re a seller and worried about the home inspection process and have the means to pay, consider having a home inspection done prior to listing your property for sale.