Having a home inspection contingency is essential when you are buying a home. But in Northern Virginia, I have seen a wide gap in the quality of the written inspection reports that home buyers are given by their inspectors. Specifically, it is the detailed description of the inspector’s concerns that he may have discovered and reported per the sales contract. Selected concerns are put on an Addendum and submitted to the Seller along with the Home Inspection Report.
Home Schooled in three hours!
I am a firm believer that my home buyer clients will learn more about their home in three hours with an inspector than over the next three years living there. And when a writer from SmartMoney Magazine called me in 1994 to ask me if I thought home inspections were a consumer rip-off and then asked a half hour worth of slanted negative questions at me, I knew there was an issue. And after that interview, I understood that she totally misunderstood the purpose of a home inspection. A good home inspection will give insight into the quality of the home’s systems from the foundation to the top of the chimney.
In fact, Smart Money’s recent article still maintains the position that home inspections are rip-offs, but gives home buyers no other options to help understand the house they are about to buy at a reasonable cost. For example, in my experience, a roof can be inspected from the attic where the sub-roof or underlayment can be inspected for water stains and rot which will have left their marks… folks, your inspector won’t see this if he climbs a ladder onto the roof like SM recommends. My point is that there are levels of experience and communication, and your inspector should have a sample report on his web site for you to examine ahead of time.
The quality of the written report became apparent recently when I was the listing agent, and the buyer’s agent brought in a home inspector. They did a good inspection, but delivered an inspection report circa 1998 using a form checklist that was unclear and literally created issues because the inspector had to abbreviate his comments. Although the other agent is an experienced agent (really), she was completely unable to explain any of the issues. Maybe that is what the SmartMoney writer was driving at?
You can see that this first report has a lengthy checklist and a small area where the inspector can write a detailed description. But it takes a lot of words to describe a “hand rail on the right side of the front porch that is not secured properly because the non-structural column is not secured” in the comment section is only ten lines long. It simply leaves too much room for interpretation by the home buyer or home seller who can easily get an unclear picture of the issue.
Here’s a much better Home Inspection Report
Now, the Northern Virginia home inspectors that I recommend to my buyer clients use digital pictures to document items that are of concern and need to be addressed. Combined with a customized report with photos and easy to understand explanations including an organized checklist, there is little room for misunderstanding that a valve is leaking or there is a missing piece of roofing.
Getting your head under your kitchen sink isn’t what most people ever do, but a home inspector will be checking for evidence of leaks, drain hose connections or improper wiring. And a few digital pictures with a clear, written description of the problem makes the home inspection report just that much more powerful when negotiating to get something fixed or when asking for a dollar credit for a future repair.
My clients understand that I look at our business relationship as a team effort and having a thorough home inspection and well written report is 1/10th of the process. If the house is sinking then let’s get the heck out of the contract, but if there is a leaking water valve then let’s get a licensed plumber in there to fix the problem. In almost twenty years as an agent, I know that no house is 100% perfect!
Bringing together the best people for my Northern Virginia home buyer clients to work with is one of my goals. Confident home inspectors, mortgage lenders, repair men, settlement agents and many others service providers help my real estate clients achieve their real estate goals.
Related articles by Zemanta
- 12 Hidden Costs of Homeownership (usnews.com)