Home Inspection: What to Do if a House Doesn’t Make the Grade
A home inspection is an essential part of the process of buying a house. While you don’t technically need to hire someone to inspect the house you’ve made an offer on, having a professional come in and assess the state of the home can save you a considerable amount of stress and money in the long run. A home inspector can find issues that the average person wouldn’t notice in a home and will outline the process involved in fixing those issues.
So what happens if the home inspection unveils a surprising number of problems with the house, from pest damage to structural concerns? You have a few options if your potential dream home doesn’t put its best foot forward during the inspection.
1. Go forward with the sale and pay for repairs yourself. Even if the inspection turns up a variety of problems with the home, you might be so enamored of the property or might be getting a good enough price on it that you decide to continue with the purchase and will cover the cost of repairs out of your own pocket. Before you decide to take care of any problems with the home on your own, it’s helpful to actually read through the inspection report to get a sense of what needs to be done. Contact several licensed contractors, and ask them to provide price quotes on the type of repairs that you need. Use that information to determine if going ahead with the sale makes sense for your budget and your peace of mind.
2. Work with the seller. It’s fairly common for buyers and sellers to work together and to negotiate who will pay for what when a home inspection turns up a lot of problems. If there are structural problems with the home, if the furnace or air conditioning are broken, or if the home isn’t up to code, it is usually in your best interest to get the seller to cover at least some costs for repairs. Be careful about expecting a seller to pay for minor problems or cosmetic issues, as most won’t. A seller might cover costs in a variety of ways, such as doing the actual repairs him or herself, issuing you a credit for closing costs, or reducing the price of the home to make up for the cost of repairs.
3. Walk away from the home. Provided that your contract with a seller had an inspection contingency clause, you have the option of going nuclear — abandoning the home and the deal — should the inspection reveal more problems than you want to deal with. Look at the anticipated cost of making repairs to the home versus the value of the home. If the cost of those repairs is more than 2 percent of the home’s value, it’s usually not worth going ahead with the sale.
When it comes to having a home inspection, the value of your inspection is only as good as the person who performs it. Ask people you know if they can recommend an inspector or consult the American Society of Home Inspectors to find a dependable and knowledgeable inspector.
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