What Really Matters?
Buying a home? The process can be stressful. A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind, but often has the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a written report, checklist, photographs, environmental reports, and what the inspector himself says during the inspection. All this combined with the seller’s disclosure and what you notice yourself makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?
Relax. Most of your inspection will be maintenance recommendations, life expectancies and minor imperfections. These are nice to know about. However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:
- Major defects. An example of this would be a structural failure.
- Things that lead to major defects. A small roof flashing leak, for example.
- Things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home.
- Safety hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electric panel.
Anything in these categories should be corrected. Often a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4).
Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective. Don’t kill your deal over things that don’t matter. It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller’s disclosure, or nit-picky items.
Three Deadly Mistakes! (from NACHI.org)
Deadly Mistake #1: Thinking you can’t afford it.
Today, buying the home of your dreams is easier than ever before. Many people who thought that buying the home they wanted was simply out of their reach are now enjoying a new lifestyle in their very own new home.
Buying a home is the smartest financial decision you will ever make. In fact, most American and Canadian homeowners would be financially broke at retirement if it weren’t for one saving grace — the equity in their home. Furthermore, mortgage rates are more flexible today than ever and tax allowances favor home ownership.
Real estate values have always risen steadily. Of course, there are peaks and valleys, but the long-term trend is a consistent increase. This means that every month when you make a mortgage payment, the amount that you owe on the home goes down and the value typically increases. This owe less, worth more situation is called equity build-up and is the reason you can’t afford not to buy.
Even if you have little money for a down payment or credit problems, chances are that you can still buy that new home. It just comes down to knowing the right strategies, and working with the right people. See below.
Deadly Mistake #2: Not hiring a buyer’s agent to represent you.
Buying property is a complex and stressful task. In fact, it is often the biggest single investment you will make in your lifetime. At the same time, real estate transactions have become increasingly complicated. New technology, laws, procedures, and competition from other buyers require buyer agents to perform at an ever-increasing level of competence and professionalism. For many homebuyers, the process turns into a terrible, stressful ordeal. In addition, making the wrong decisions can end up costing you thousands of dollars. It does not have to be this way!
Work with a buyer’s agent who has a keen understanding of the real estate business and who is on your side. Buyers’ agents have a fiduciary duty to their clients. That means that your buyer’s agent is loyal to only you and is obligated to look out for your best interests. A buyer’s agent can help you find the best home, the best lender and the best inspector. Best of all, in most cases, the buyer’s agent is paid out of the seller’s commission, even though he/she works for you.
Trying to buy a home without an agent at all is, well… unthinkable.
Deadly Mistake #3: Getting a cheap inspection.
Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection. The cost of a home inspection is very small relative to the value of the home being inspected. The additional cost of hiring a certified inspector is almost insignificant. As a home buyer, you have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals. Do not stop now. Do not let your real estate agent, a “patty-cake” inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here.
InterNACHI front-ends its membership requirements. InterNACHI turns down more than half the inspectors who want to join because they can’t fulfill the membership requirements.
InterNACHI-certified inspectors perform the best inspections by far. InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their fees many times over. They do more, they deserve more, and, yes — they generally charge a little more. Do yourself a favor, and pay a little more for the quality inspection you deserve.