Friday, October 22, 2010

When Buying or Selling Real Estate, Why Are Home Inspections So Important?

Buying a new home is an exciting time in a person’s life. New buyers have prepared themselves with a house feature checklist and they have walked through dozens of houses, inspecting them before putting money in escrow and arranging financing. Before they close, they elected to have the property inspected by a third party – but how do they choose which house inspector or inspection company to use? Finding a certified home inspector is the answer.

Why is the home inspector such an integral part of the transaction and why are they such an expert?

Becoming a home inspector is a relatively straightforward process, dictated by the law of the state in which the inspector intends to operate. Becoming certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), however, requires a solid commitment to ethical practices and a keen understanding of construction methods. Choosing a certified home inspector is well worth any added cost for the professional service you as the buyer will receive.

Every state requires that a home inspector either be licensed or registered with the state. State laws require that before offering their services that a home inspector receive minimum levels of education and sometimes actual field experience. Most states require that a home inspector pass the National Home Inspector Exam®, or a similar qualifying exam of the state’s own design.

Both ASHI or NAHI require that a home inspector pass a thorough series of coursework before becoming a certified member of either organization. These courses cover the details of home construction from top to bottom, focusing on roofs, plumbing, electrical systems, and structural components. Obtaining certification from either organization is a commitment of time and money on the part of the home inspector, with no guarantee that they will be able to pass the examination at the end of the coursework. Both organizations offer – and require – continuing education from their members to remain certified.

ASHI and NAHI have set high standards of competence for their members, and take certification very seriously as an emblem of quality for a home inspector.

How do you know which inspector to hire?

Before signing a contract with a home inspector, ask to see a sample of a report and make sure you understand what you will receive. Will the final report include pictures of problem areas? How detailed will the recommendations for corrective action be? Are cost estimates included if problems are found? An ethical, certified home inspector may recommend several contractors who are qualified to make repairs and give you cost estimates, but they will never suggest that they could do the work for you. A certified home inspector must remain objective and free of conflicts of interest.

Is there anything the seller can do to prevent problems?

As the home owner, you should do a bit of preparation in advance of a visit from a home inspector. Thoroughly clean the entire home – first impressions count. Remove any obstructions that might make it difficult for the inspector to observe your furnace or hot water heater.

The inspector may ask you a few questions during the inspection, especially if he observes significant changes that are significantly newer than the house.

Do not try to hide defects. This will only send up warning flags that you have something to hide.

For more information on buying or selling real estate or hiring a home inspector visit or call 562-882-1581

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