There is a man on a roof with a flashlight peering into a crack near the outside of a chimney. No, this home isn’t being broken into and it sure isn’t Santa. This, dear readers, is your home inspection, which kicks in on your offer timeline right after the sellers agree to your offer. It’s often terrifying for buyers and frustrating to sellers. There should be a Lifetime Original Movie on it at this point – The Silent Killer: A Home Inspection Story, starring Melissa Joan Hart as the buyer and Joey Lawrence as the seller. I’d watch it but it would hit too close to home. (Get it? Okay, I’ll stop.)

That’s because buyers often come in expecting their “perfect” house to work “perfectly” and sellers think their home is just fine. A home inspection is a reality check; you’re never going to like your house more after the inspection. Let me repeat that: you aren’t going like your house more after the inspection. But that’s okay! You should know as much about the house you’re about to buy as you possibly can. Plus, most are actually fixable and maybe you want to do your own home improvement! Let’s first explore what happens during the inspection and you’ll understand why.

Pick the Inspector

If you’ve got a great Agent, chances are they’ve already established relationships with the right inspector for you and will be able to get one ready for that day. These are often tight timelines of 3-7 days, which include scheduling, inspecting, creating the report, and returning items to fix to the seller. Sometimes those inspectors are booked, though, so it’s good to know the qualities of a great home inspector in case you need to find one fast (no, don’t just use the first guy on Yelp):

Inspecting the Home

So, what are inspectors going to look for anyways? They’re going to check out potentially up to 2,000 different items in the home, small and large, primarily using visual inspection. You’ll follow them around and listen to any comments made. As much as any agent would like them to, they aren’t legally allowed to bust open walls to see stuff. Here’s a summary of what they do look at:

They’ll also catch if the seller thought of themselves as a DIY guru, since thankfully there are standards for electrical, plumbing, tiling, appliance installation, etc. You do not have to buy a home that is held together with scotch tape and paperclips. Your inspector should tell you what’s “up to code.”

What Your Inspector Wishes You Knew

(With Andrew Tuzzio of Family Home Inspections)

I’ve sat down with the guy who is #1 on my home inspection speed dial to capture some pearls of wisdom on what he wishes you knew:

Need a smart inspector who will go above and beyond? Email us or talk to me to get some help from our crack team.

The Inspection Report & Response

After receiving the report from the inspector, your agent will review and draw up a list of issues and items that will be sent to the sellers. That begins the negotiation process, where a buyer can either ask that a seller complete the fixes before they move out or ask for a lump sum credit from the sellers to get the fixes done after the new buyers move in. This is the part where emotions tend to run high. Buyers don’t want to incur immediate additional costs on top of their down-payment, and sellers are being told to fix problems they’ve likely lived with for a long time. So I ask you do the following:

Fortunately, there are great agents (like myself, there I said it) and inspectors out there who are ready to be on your crack team. Don’t take this part of the contract lightly, but also remember it’s a standard part of the process and your team should be doing whatever they can to protect your interests. If you wished you had read this before you bought, connect with Maggie to save money to fix your home.

I strongly recommend you get a home inspection. Sellers can offer their homes “As-Is” which means a buyer waives their ability to use a home inspection to leave the contract, or to negotiate with the seller to fix the items. That could put you and your finances in peril, especially if they’re hiding snakes in the walls. If you’re considering this, I sure hope you’re a developer, planning on rebuilding the home, or enjoy snake-skin shoes.*

*You can get an inspector to do a pre-inspection with you before you even put in an offer, but they’re not as thorough and don’t give you any leverage during the contract period.