Once you get your offer accepted this is the second hurdle to cross and the most important of the process of buying a home. The Home Inspections! The buyer has asked for X days – usually 7 -10 in the LA market, but 17 days is the default amount, to complete, consult and negotiate repairs for the property being purchased. (NOTE that the negotiation needs to be completed by the end of the inspection period!)
This is the buyers’ time to understand as much as they possibly can about all current, past conditions, repairs that may have been deferred and future problems that might arise with said property. It is time to understand what can be lived with, what are safety issues, and how much repairs may cost.
Your home inspectors are your most important tool. A great home inspector will know building codes, have ideas about what some repairs might cost and know when professional subs must be called in for closer inspection. More importantly, they know how to gently tell buyers that no house is going to 100% perfect and what to fight for and what to let go.
The serious problems are:
- Health and safety issues
- Roofs with leaks or past leaks
- Furnace – A/C malfunctions (HVAC)
- Foundation deficiencies
- Moisture / drainage issues
- Sewer lines
Generally aesthetic issues and aspects that could be observed by the buyer before writing the offer are considered with the purchase price of the offer accepted.
EVERYTHING that the buyer needs to feel comfortable with their own safety and quality of life living in the home should be inspected. The buyer has the burden of investigation and needs to look into everything regarding the property.
That being said, not everyone can spend $15,000 on inspections before purchasing a house.
Here are the inspections I insist on all of my buyers getting before releasing contingencies on a home and approximately what they might cost.
General Inspection: This is the most important part of your team as this person should be able to lead you to what other systems need further investigation. ($300 up depending on size and number of units)
Foundation: Remember issues with a foundation do not ruin a house. If “something” is found it is not the end of the world, you just need to know what it will take to repair and make the home safe. ($200-$500: based on sq footage, number of structures.)
Sewer: Homeowners don’t check or do upkeep on their sewer connections unless something very bad happens and sellers do not realize that roots or cracks have gotten into the pipes over time. Chances are the seller just doesn’t know if there is a problem. This may take many thousands to repair or it could just need routing. This is a must do. ($150-$300)
Fireplace: Another hidden repair many times home sellers are not aware of issues. You need a professional to send a camera up the chimney and make sure there are no fire safety issues. Remember even a new construction it doesn’t mean that it was installed correctly. ($150 – $200 per fireplace)
Permits: There are agencies that pull the permits on construction projects done to your property. You should know what was done with permits, what wasn’t, and decide what you consider acceptable. ($100 or less with a service)
Insurance: Call your agent and get a quote asap. In LA there are many flood and fire zones and insurance might make the difference with affordability on a purchase. Be sure to get an ALTA with CLUE report from Title.
Wood Destroying Pests: This is usually included in the contract. In LA the seller usually pays for this inspection and current infestation repair (Section 1). Buyers are customarily responsible for repairing factors that can lead to future infestation (Section 2).
Other things you can inspect:
Geological reports: Very important with hillside or land-fill areas (usually $1,000s and can take a couple weeks)
Roof: The general inspector will call this out if they think it needs more investigation.
Plumbing: The general inspector will call this out if they think it needs more investigation
Electrical: The general inspector will call this out if they think it needs more investigation.
Mold: The general inspector will call this out if they think it needs more investigation.
Radon Gas: I have had one property fail this test, however most buyers choose not to do this. The fix cost about $1,000 – $2,000 on the house that had the issue.
HVAC: The general inspector will call this out if they think it needs more investigation. The vendor should charge about $100 to come out.
Megan’s Law Database: Registered sex offenders in the area. I also recommend looking up your current residence as an example. There will be more listed than you think. http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/
The good inspectors get booked really fast and it is very important you get a good one. Book them as soon as you can!
This is a good article on this part of the process: http://homebuying.about.com/od/homeshopping/qt/091107_homeinsp.htm