What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a part of the buying process to inform the buyer of the property’s condition and any issues that might be present. An inspector visits the house and checks it from top to bottom, inside and out. A single-family house takes two to four hours to inspect, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors, but it varies on the size of the house and its condition.
Why does someone get a home inspection?
The homebuyer may request an inspection of the property to protect themselves from unwanted surprises. This process usually happens after the seller accepts the buyer’s offer before closing. According to Forbes, some home purchase agreements include a contingency that allows the prospective buyer to withdraw their offer if significant issues are found during the home inspection.
For minor issues, buyers may try to negotiate with the seller to fix them. The seller must be upfront about the property’s condition.
Lenders do not typically require a home inspection. They’re more interested in the appraisal of the property to ensure that the house is being purchased at a fair price, according to Nerd Wallet.
What happens during a home inspection?
Home inspections are comprehensive. There are roughly 1,600 items to look for during a single inspection, the executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors told Realtor.com.
Here are a few key things that are reviewed during a home inspection:
- Rooms: Some signs will let the inspector know that something is amiss. For example, stains on the ceiling can indicate a leak, and walls that aren’t perfectly upright can hint that there are issues with the framing and structure.
- Plumbing: Inspectors will check that the toilets are flushing correctly, as well as check pipes, drainage, water pressure from the faucet and shower heads, and more.
- Kitchen: With how much goes on in the kitchen, it is important to ensure there are no safety issues. For example, checking that there are no non-GFCI protected outlets within 6 feet of the sink. Or confirming the range hood vents to the outside. For other equipment, like gas stoves, inspectors will look for potential gas leaks.
- Electrical: Again, for safety reasons, there should be no exposed wiring, and electrical panels must be in good condition. Inspectors will also check to ensure there are an adequate number of outlets in each room.
- Exterior: It’s not just the interior but the house’s exterior that gets assessed. This includes the condition of the roof, landscaping, and foundation. The inspector might find that puddles form in the yard, which can indicate water damage somewhere, or defects in the roof that are not normal for its age.
Can you fail a home inspection?
We often hear people say that a property “passed” the home inspection, but it’s not a test, and the house doesn’t need to be in perfect condition to go on the market. The inspection results let the buyer know the condition of each facet of the property.
For example, if the roof is at the end of its life (a roof typically lasts 30 years, according to Angi), that doesn’t mean the seller must replace it before selling it. But if this comes up during the inspection, it could impact the sale price or lead to some negotiating between the buyer and seller.
However, there are situations where the results of a home inspection might dissuade the buyer from moving forward with a sale. If the inspector finds the foundation is in poor condition or discovers major water damage, the buyer can decide that the repairs are too costly and time-consuming. Most lenders will not underwrite conventional mortgages for houses with serious structural defects. These results also inform the seller of changes they may need to make to get the house to sell.
Who pays for a home inspection?
The home inspection is the homebuyer’s responsibility since it’s a part of their due diligence in the purchase process. Inspections usually cost between $300 and $500, according to Realtor.com.
How home inspections differ when you sell to a home buying company
If you opt to sell your house to a homebuying company, they have their process for inspecting homes they plan to buy. For example, at Meridian Trust, our home inspections take roughly 30 minutes to complete — compared to the two to four hours estimated for a traditional home inspection — and it’s also free to the seller.
A representative from Meridian Trust schedules the inspection based on the seller’s availability. They pass all the vital information to the inspector, so they’re prepared before stepping through the front door.
Inspectors will go through the interior and exterior of the house, taking pictures as they go. They’ll also go through a checklist of items, such as:
- The condition of the foundation
- Checking for leaks in the septic tank
- Ensuring that the walls, doors, and windows are properly aligned
- The age of the roof and condition of the shingles
- If there is a pool, and its condition
- What parking is available, as well as if there is a garage
- The type of flooring in different parts of the house
- Noting what repairs are needed, if any
Our home inspection process is quick (often just 30 minutes), although it varies based on the size of the property and the lot. Even then, sellers can expect the inspector to only be there for an hour. This is all at no cost to the seller. The report is ready within 24 to 48 hours of the home inspection. Homeowners can also request a copy, which we can supply.
Meridian Trust works hard to ensure that the process is easy on the seller. A lockbox is installed if the property is vacant so the owner doesn’t have to be present for visits. For properties with tenants, they sign an estoppel to protect their right and lease to the property.
Home inspections are part of the process whether you sell your property on the market or to Meridian Trust. The most significant difference between the two routes is that our streamlined home inspection process is much faster with Meridian Trust — and we buy houses “as is.”
That means if we can buy your property based on the inspection outcome, you aren’t responsible for fixing any of the issues.
Note: This guide is for informational purposes only. Meridian Trust does not make any guarantees about the sufficiency of the content in or linked to this blog post or that it is compliant with current law. The content within this blog post is not a substitute for legal advice or legal services. You should not rely on this information for any purpose without consulting a licensed lawyer in your area.
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