The 5 W’s of Home Inspection-
My background is marketing and still, to this day, I ask myself the 5 W’s (sometimes the H) when I’m putting together a new ad, a client party invite, even just a basic social media post. Because, whether the consumer realizes it or not, these are the questions people want answered in the 10 seconds they are viewing your ad or invite. We’ve all learned this method, right? I want to say it was a third grade lesson, and if nothing else I’m sure you’ve at least bought those cheesy stock party invites where you fill in the blanks- that may be more 1990’s, pre computer days- but I always enjoyed choosing my theme in the discount store aisle weeks before the party so I could hand them out at school! Ok, a little off subject. This is a real estate blog, people.
Inspections. Who do you go to for an inspection? What is a home inspection and what is the cost? When in the process do you have the inspection? Where does this all take place? Why do I need one? And bonus: How is the information presented to me after?
I’m a licensed real estate agent in the state of South Dakota, the items or legalities of this information may be different in other states. Please refer to your state laws or contact a real estate professional with any questions beyond this post. Now, let’s dig in.
Who does a home inspection?
In the purchase agreement from the Black Hills Association of REALTORS®, you are not required as a buyer to use a licensed home inspector, but it does recommend it. That being said, the inspection clause of the contract exists really more to state the timeframe for inspection results and negotiations. Our team, as a general principle, always recommend a home inspection to our buyers. The only exception is new construction (which can go either way) and is, of course, ultimately up to the buyer.
So, who does this home inspection we recommend? Well, I’ve seen family members do them, I’ve had contractors come through with clients, and just recently, we had the client perform his own. But I would say 93% of the time (total guess), a professional, licensed home inspector performs the home inspection. We work very closely with a handful of inspectors and give each client options to choose from when they have an accepted offer on a home.
Some inspectors may have more experience with foundation issues or work better with first time home buyers; some are a little more relaxed in pointing out flaws (cosmetic vs serious) and others are extremely detailed. For the same reason there are a lot of real estate agents (because there are A LOT of personalities), there are many inspectors to choose from – typically the inspectors we recommend will reflect the personality of our buyers to help customize and create an enjoyable experience throughout the entire transaction. Bet you didn’t think we thought so hard about these details, did you? Welcome to the White & White Team experience!
What Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an examination of the condition of a real estate property. It usually takes place in connection with the property’s sale. A qualified home inspector assesses the condition of a property, including its heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical, water and sewage, as well as some fire and safety issues. In addition, the home inspector will look for evidence of insect, water, or fire damage or any other issue that may affect the value of the property. That’s a Google definition.
In layman’s terms, a home inspection is an opportunity to look closer at items that would affect the buyer’s ability to enjoy the property as they intended when they made the original offer. We like to tell our buyers that the home inspection is intended to identify more major concerns with the home (typically with electrical, plumbing, foundation, etc..). Items you wouldn’t SEE just walking through the property during your initial viewing *before* the offer was submitted. Depending on the size of the home, an inspection typically lasts 2-4 hours.
A home inspection, by a licensed home inspector, is just part of the recommended inspection. If the home is older (pre-1990), we may be able to call the county and get more information on the sewer line. If they show it hasn’t been replaced in the past 30 (or so) years, we will recommend a sewer line scope where they can put a camera down a… hole… and view the sewer line from the house to the city main in the street. If there are major issues such as a broken pipe, large tree roots, bellies, standing water, etc., you may have an opportunity to ask the seller to repair/replace. Or if it’s not too bad, it’s good that you know the condition of your pipes. They also provide you with the video, in case you weren’t grossed out yet!
Another inspection for certain properties is a well/water test and septic inspection. These are for homes generally outside of city limits. Each county in our area has their own procedures and requirements, you will want to talk with your agent if you are purchasing a home that is not on city water or city septic to decide the best course of action. Typically, the seller will pay for these items to be done prior to closing and provide invoices that the work is complete and satisfactory. We have also recommended scopes from the home to the septic tank, depending on the age of the property.
Radon is another test that can be performed during a home inspection. We suggest asking your inspector if they recommend the test, but if in doubt, run the test. It’s about $100, but likely worth that in piece of mind alone. There is more and more research on the effects of Radon, I won’t go into all of it because I also believe there are a lot of opinions – I suggest you do your own research or you can read more here. A radon test is a 48 hour test, set by the inspector either 2 days prior to the home inspection or picked 2 days after. Results are typically instant from their test kits and the reading is an average of each hour the test was running in the home. This short-term test is really a snapshot, if the results are above EPA recommended levels but below a certain point – we may ask for a 90-day test to be done to get a more accurate reading.
Everything in an inspection is negotiable for both the buyer and the seller. Just because a flaw or issue comes back in the inspection report, doesn’t mean the seller will automatically agree to repair/replace. That’s where our experience and expertise comes in handy!
When do you do a Home Inspection?
The timing of the home inspection is most typically stated in the purchase agreement. Although it varies with the type of property, the situation of the buyer, and the schedule of a home inspector- we will likely state in an agreement that the buyer is to perform the inspection and have information to the sellers agent within 10 calendar days of an accepted offer.
Because this varies, we will likely accept anything from 5-14 days, but much longer would be questioned. We really want to get through the home inspection contingency BEFORE the appraiser gets to the property, otherwise the buyer could be stuck with an appraisal fee while the inspection could find items that would force the parties to cancel the agreement. So much of our job as a real estate professional is to keep things moving and to look out for our buyer or seller’s best interest. Especially when it comes to timelines and legal contracts. We got you!
Where do you have a Home Inspection?
At the property of which your offer was accepted. Sorry, I don’t have much for this one… I thought I could get clever, but I just can’t get there.
Why should you have a Home Inspection?
Simply put, to protect your investment. Unless you or someone you trust very much is a contractor of some sort, it may be best to look at hiring a professional here. There are items you will not see or even think to look at yourself. It’s $400-$500 (more on larger homes), and in our opinion the best inside look you’ll get of your home before you close and take over all responsibility.
In SD, we have a “seller’s property disclosure statement” where *most* sellers are required to disclose all material facts about a property. However, there are times that we have seen where the seller didn’t realize they needed to disclose something serious or they didn’t know a problem existed at all until the home inspection was completed.
You may have an idea on how long you expect to own the property, or how soon you want to sell. But without knowing the details of your home, you may never know what is happening until it’s too late. If you opt to decline an inspection, you may find when you sell and another buyer has their inspection, you could be on the hook for repairs you didn’t realize existed.
You will be held responsible for repairs from the time you buy to the time you sell. So, educate yourself. Knowledge is power!
How is the information presented?
More times than not, the home Inspector will have a final report to our buyers and the agent within 24 hours of the home inspection. That 15-50+ page report will have pictures, explanations of issues, information on systems, and so much more! At that point, the buyer reviews the information with their agent and decides what repairs are necessary (of the seller) to move forward. There’s no right or wrong, it really comes down to the comfort level of our client and the best way to navigate the results from a professional. At this time, we like to remind our buyers that a home inspection helps you make a more informed decision about the home you’re considering buying. It’s as much informational as it is educational. There will be minor items as well as major items. The trick here is to decipher what the seller should be responsible for and what items buyer can handle after closing – sometimes this is easy, sometimes it’s a very fine line.
Our team has the experience of going through literally 100’s of inspections, so we are comfortable and confident guiding our clients in the best direction possible. We have learned to listen and react to all of the information presented. It’s all part of hiring an experienced expert, as far as we’re concerned.
Once we nail down repair/replace items that the buyer wants to request of the seller, we write up what we call a ‘contingency removal’ (where we attempt to REMOVE an inspection contingency from the purchase agreement). We send that signed document along with pages from the inspection report (that specifically pertain to each request) to the seller’s agent. After that is sent, both parties typically have 3-7 days *depending on the contract agreement* to finish negotiations and from there, we move forward or we cancel the agreement.
Home Inspection Conclusion:
The home inspection is likely the biggest hurdle we will have to make it through during the contract time frame. It can be a lot of time, sweat, and money on a home with a great deal of deferred maintenance. So, if you’re a homeowner reading this, give yourself a break on your next sale- keep up on
your home maintenance, properly address issues as they arise, hire a professional when you don’t know what you’re doing. It doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, but writing ‘no repairs required’ on an inspection contingency removal is a truly glorious day.
If you are considering a move, give us a call. We would love to help you through the home buying process and connect you with some awesome professionals along the way. Call us to get started or to ask questions (605) 646-3336 or start your home search at www.WhiteandWhiteTeam.com