A home inspection gives buyers the opportunity to examine every inch of a prospective property. Here’s how home inspections work, why they’re so important, and how you can use your inspection to help you make the critical decision on whether or not to buy a home.
The Importance of a Home Inspection
In addition to finding a reasonable mortgage rate and negotiating a sale price, the home-buying process entails a home inspection. A home inspection is conducted by a certified professional who inspects and assesses the physical aspects of a home, including every element from the foundation and walls to conditions of the plumbing and electric systems.
Home inspections can be stressful because they determine any underlying issues with the property that either take it out of consideration or can be used to negotiate a lower sale price. Because this is the last chance before closing to examine a property from top to bottom, it’s essential not only to find a good inspector but to make sure that any concerns you have are addressed.
In a city full of old properties like Chicago, inspections are especially important. It’s crucial that you find an inspector you trust to give you a thorough report of the property’s condition.
Hiring a home inspector
When you put in an offer on a property, it’s your responsibility as the buyer to find your home inspector. While a seller might claim that their home has been pre-inspected, you’ll want to conduct your own inspection to verify a property’s condition.
Hire your own inspector
It’s best practice to look for someone independently rather than relying on a referral from your agent or the seller. As real estate agents, we often refer inspectors to our clients but encourage them to conduct their own interviews and ask for referrals of the inspector’s past reports. Since inspection findings are so crucial to each buying process, make sure that you find an inspector whose experience you trust.
What to look for in a home inspector
Feel free to get several quotes from home inspectors to compare rates and their scope of work. Inspections can cost up to $500, so make sure that you research thoroughly.
A great way to get honest feedback on an inspector’s quality of past work is to ask for references--especially past clients who have lived in their home for a few months since the inspection. This enables you to hear not only about the inspection itself but to know if homeowners have experienced any problems that didn’t show up in the initial report.
Important parts of a home inspection
Once you have found an inspector and are under contract for the property, you will want to schedule them as soon as possible. Here’s what more inspections will involve:
Before the inspection
Make sure to check in with the inspector about the property before they arrive. If you saw potential issues during your initial walk-through or want to know more about the effects of a property’s age or location, make sure to communicate those concerns. Highlighting any issues will help the inspector provide you with the best feedback from their findings.
What’s included in a home inspection
A home inspection typically takes two to three hours, in which the inspector walks through the entire property and takes notes and pictures. They will examine all aspects of the building, including:
- Structural integrity
- Water damage (to both exterior and interior of the home)
- Roof condition
- Outdated or problematic electric wiring
- Pest damage (insects, rodents, etc.)
- Condition of plumbing
What’s not included in a home inspection?
Think of your inspector not as a wizard who can see all, but as an expert pair of eyes. Since he or she can’t look behind walls to spot knob-and-tube wiring or magically sense the presence of mold, you can’t expect them to find every last problem that might come with the property. Their expertise lies in making deductions and observations based on what they can see from the walk-through.
Note that testing for materials like asbestos, mold, or other hazards aren’t typically covered by a home inspector and might require specialized tests by an expert.
Can I come to my home inspection?
You certainly can attend your home inspection, and it’s a good idea to make your own checklist of questions and potential issues and compare it with your inspector’s report. Taking your own pictures is another great way to document your observations and ask for the inspector’s opinion.
What to do after a home inspection
Your inspection report will contain any issues or required maintenance found by the inspector during their walk-through. This will show you how much money you need to pay for repairs if you choose to move forward with the property.
Depending on the terms of the sale, you can also use concerns noted on the report to negotiate the property’s sale price. If your contract has a home inspection contingency clause, you can back out of the offer if the repairs look too expensive or complicated. If you still want to proceed, you can ask the seller to reduce the selling price, make repairs prior to the sale, or to give you closing credit to help offset the cost of fixing the problem.
Your ability to negotiate based on the inspection report will depend on the seller’s situation and sale terms. If they’re strapped for cash or think they can find a better offer, they might not be willing to come down on price or make repairs. Before bringing your concerns to the seller, meet with your realtor to discuss likely outcomes and potential for renegotiation.
Buying a home in Chicago
In the Midwest, old homes come with both charm and plenty of potential for problems. It’s important to find a good home inspector for your Chicago property whose experience you trust.
Here at Chicago Real Estate Source, we have years of experience representing buyers and sellers of Chicago homes. If you’re considering buying a property in the Windy City, we’re here to answer any questions and to help you start your search. Contact us or check out our blog to read more about the buying and selling homes here in Chicago.