A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Make
I advise all my buyers to hire a home inspector. I tell them it’s the best investment they’ll ever make. If the inspection uncovers issues so serious that they decide to walk, it can feel like money wasted. But if it helps them avoid big surprises they would have encountered later, then it’s definitely money well-spent. That’s why I very rarely write up offers that don’t include an inspection contingency.
I even advise buyers to hire an inspector when they’re considering a foreclosure or other distressed property that’s being sold “as-is.” More information can help them, in the words of that old song, “know when to walk away… and know when to run.” Or, they can move forward with confidence, armed with solid information about just what they’re getting into. And even when a home is being sold as-is, that doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t be a little negotiating if an inspection uncovers major issues.
It’s also important to remember that a condition report is very different from an inspection report. Yes, sellers sign on the dotted line to signify that they’re telling the truth. But even though they’re completing the condition report to the best of their knowledge, they may not know about all of their home’s issues. So no matter how much you trust the seller’s condition report, it doesn’t take the place of an inspection.
If an inspection uncovers major issues, you have two choices: you can walk, or you can ask the seller to “cure.” The seller can resolve the situation by either fixing it or giving you a credit at closing. I almost never advise my buyers to walk away without trying to negotiate a solution. The only exception would be in the case of serious mold or structural issues. Almost anything else can be fixed. If this is a home and a location that you like, work with the seller to reach a fair outcome.
Most homes outside the city limits have their own well and septic, and those need to be inspected, too. Some inspectors are specialists, while others can take care of all three inspections in the same visit. Ask your Realtor for recommendations.
Don’t procrastinate on this step; start working to schedule an inspection the moment you have an accepted offer. The best inspectors can be very busy; here in northern Wisconsin, that’s especially true during the summer months. So you’ll have plenty of time for any negotiations that might need to take place between the inspection and the contingency deadline, make sure you schedule your inspection for the earliest date possible.
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