Home inspections are becoming less of a negotiations issue  

Rick Chantry 

One sign that home buyers are regaining bargaining strength is the number of home inspections is increasing. They were one of the things buyers sacrificed during the hypercompetitive market years. 

2022 NETAR President Association spokesperson

Here are the basics of home inspections and what to expect. 

Owners who want to sell their home must give buyers a disclosure of the property’s known defects. It’s the law. Most of the time, the disclosure is made on a form provided by the Tennessee Realtors® to help owners check off the requirement.  

Unless the buyer agrees to an “as is” sale, the next step is a home inspection. Some buyers make their offer contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection. Most of the time, the cost of that inspection is also assumed by the buyer since they are the ones who benefit most from the service. But sometimes, a seller can use a home inspection as an incentive. 

Here’s what to expect from a pre-purchase home inspection from a certified inspector.  

A visual inspection and written report or checklist on the home’s primary systems condition. That includes the heating, central air conditioning, and interior electrical and plumbing systems. It also includes checking the attic’s visual insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and windows. Add to all of that the roof, foundation, the basement, patio, decks, and garage. Be sure to read your inspector’s agreement to see what is included. 

It can take anywhere from 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 physical condition of the home at the time of the inspection. 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 are some of the things inspectors are not required to do: 

  • Walk a home’s roof. 
  • Enter a home’s crawl space. 
  • Look for mold or microorganisms though the report might note their presence, but probably need follow-up by a specialist. 

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 typically range from $250 to $500 depending on the property’s location, the type and size, 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 it 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 1,800+ 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