Friday, January 16, 2009

Buyers!!! Are you really getting a great Home Inspection?

It's rare that a purcahse offer is accepted without allowing for a home inspection contingency. Just because they are advertising "As-is" does NOT mean that you are not entitled to investigate the condition of the home. If the home is a bank-owned, this investigation is especially important because they do not give you disclosures, they do not have any first hand knowledge of problems and you will have to discover them completely on your own.

This brings us to the next problem. There are many people out there who advertise as home inspectors. And it's sad to say that you may not get the best direction from your agent. Many agents, especially in this market, are afraid to offer a truly GREAT inspector for fear that you might find something out that will scare you out of the home. I understand, but at the same time we agents should be motivated to serve our buyers and their interests. I think we earn loyalty from a buyer who receives a great inspection from an agent and does decide to leave an escrow.
Beware of "visual inspections." Frankly, we can all do that! "Hum, that looks like water once leaked through the ceiling." Is that really the level of inspection you need when purchasing the biggest investment you have, and your HOME? I have an inspector I have used for years and trust completely. He is also one of the few certified mold experts in Southern California. While a routine inspection will not include mold, because of this training, he will alert you to possible mold situations and can recommend further mold investigations if he feels the situation warrants it.

A thorough inspection should include the following:

1) Turn on all appliances and check temperatures.
2) Check the furnace, air conditioning systems and check temperatures.
3) Check the water heater for pressure.
4) Run sprinklers, outside lighting.
5) Turn on all lights and fixtures.
6) Inspect all plumbing and search for evidence of water damage.
7) Check smoke detectors and notice safety issue.
8) Notice cracks in patios, walls, floor and ceilings and make recommendations if further inspection should be done.
9) Climb onto the roof, crawl through the attic, and check storage areas in garage.

In short...this is just the beginning of a good inspection. Then you should get a complete report of what was done and the results so you can make an intelligent decision. And remember, just because a listing claims to be "As-is" doesn't mean you can't negotiate for repairs. Many banks will make concessions for large issues, such as mold or geological problems. Once the bank is made aware of a problem like this, they will have to disclose it to future buyers, so they do have incentive to work with you. FHA will not finance a home with a mold problem, so that again is leverage to use with the bank.

A great buyer's agent knows that the worst phone call to get is the one after the close of escrow with an unhappy buyer due to a foreseeable problem. The best way to avoid that call is to provide the best possible professionals to advise the buyer in advance. A thorough home inspection is just one of those steps and perhaps the most important.

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