By Steve Gillman - 2007
Do your own pre-purchase inspection? Well, yes and no. You
should inspect a house yourself before you write an offer on
it. You should also put an inspection contingency clause in the
offer, and hire a professional inspector. Why do both?
By doing your own inspection, you can get a better deal. Every
cracked window or leaky toilet you can find is a negotiating
point. Of course, you could just make a low offer, but a seller
is more likely to accept your offer if you have reasons for it
being lower. In fact, you should attach a list of your concerns
to the offer, as an explanation and justification for your price.
Always use a list as you walk through the home. A home inspection
checklist keeps you from forgetting things. You don't need to
know the difference between 12-gauge and 14-gauge wiring, or
become an expert on the building trades, as useful as this would
be. Use what you do know, and make a note if something looks
"odd" or "smells funny." Then have a professional
inspector take a closer look.
Why pay for a professional pre-purchase inspection? Because
unless you really know a lot, it can save your neck financially.
An acquaintance of mine just discovered that the house he made
an offer on was almost beyond hope, because their was so much
termite and other damage. He scrapped the deal, and considering
the tens of thousands of damage found, that he hadn't planned
on, I don't think he's regretting the $300 he spent on inspections.
So do a walk-through inspection yourself, by all means, but
also put that clause in the contract allowing you to have professional
inspections too. How, though, do you choose the right person
to do the inspections? Very carefully.
Pre-Purchase Inspection - Hiring an Inspector
If they are specific inspections that are customary in your
area, you can rely on most reputable companies. For example,
termite inspections are the norm here in Tucson, and it's cheap
to get one done by a pest control company (they hope to get the
job if there are termites to be eradicated). If you see that
the roof has obvious problems, you can get a roofer to take a
look and give you an itemized quote.
In the case of general pre-purchase inspections, though, it
isn't as easy to hire the right person. It is relatively easy
to get licensed for general home inspection in most states. What
you really want, though, is not someone that read the right books
and passed a test, but an inspector with real life experience.
A good idea is to find a former builder or tradesman that has
real experience with everything from electrical work to roofing
to plumbing and more.
Of course, you want to know what is wrong, but also what the
cost to fix these problems will be. Not every inspector will
have that information for you. Ask if they can give you estimates
for repairing any problem they find, even if only in the form
of a range of the possible cost. You may be re-negotiating the
price based on his findings. Call in contractors to get quotes
on big problems, but you need to at least know which are big
problems, and a good inspector should be able to tell you.
Pre-Purchase Inspection - Four Steps
1. Go ahead and do your own walk-through inspection, then
hire a professional.
2. Ask about their experience.
3. Ask if they can note estimated costs next to problems found.
4. If you want to learn more, ask if maybe you can tag along
for the inspection.
Do these things and you'll have a thorough pre-purchase inspection.