Here’s what to expect from the all-important home inspection
Jan Stapleton - 2023 NETAR President
Here’s another twist that illustrates this year’s housing market will not be like it has been. We’re still firmly in a seller’s market, and it looks like we will be for a while, but buyers are beginning to flex some of their newfound muscle.
The days of online buying, multiple offers, and over-list offers may not be gone, but there are them. And buyers are not so willing to turn their backs on home inspections and other contingencies. So, here’s a brief primer on what to expect from a home inspection from a certified inspector.
You will receive a visual inspection and written report or checklist on the home’s primary systems condition. That includes the heating system, central air conditioning system, the interior electrical and plumbing systems. It also includes checking the attic and its visual insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and windows. Add to all that the roof, foundation, basement, patio, decks, and garage. Be sure to read your inspector’s agreement to see what is included.
It can take an hour and a half for a simple inspection on a smaller property to more than three and a half hours for a larger property. That’s because it’s a pretty thorough process that relies on standards set by the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and the State Standards for Tennessee Home Inspectors Licensing Program. But it’s not a pass-or-fail process.
Inspectors will be familiar with the local building code, but the home inspection is not a code check. Its goal is to evaluate and describe the home’s physical condition at the time of the review. An indication of what may need repair or replacement can be included, but whether or not any of that happens is up to what the buyer and seller agree to in their negotiations. As with all negotiations, there’s a virtually endless list of options.
Here’s a basic checklist of best practices for hiring a home inspector.
- Check their license status. Tennessee’s Home Inspector Licensing Program was enacted in 2005 to ensure that only qualified persons are licensed home inspectors and that those inspectors extend a professional and educated opinion on the condition of the homes they inspect.
- Are they certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors?
- How long have they been an inspector, and the number of inspections they do is also a consideration?
- Understand the inspection fee upfront. Costs usually range from $250 to $500 depending on the property’s location, the type and size of the property, and the scope of the inspection. Some buyers get several cost estimates before hiring an inspector.
- Ask for references, including some previous customers, and talk to them.
- Discuss in advance how long you will have to wait for the report after the inspection is completed.
Finally, while you should expect a checklist of the weak points turned up during the inspection and options you may have to resolve the issues, it’s not unheard of to see the report include some of the property’s strong points.
NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,600+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at https://netar.us