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Pre-Purchase Inspection

By - 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.


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Houses Under Fifty Thousand | Pre-Purchase Inspection