How To Choose a Home Inspector
August 16, 2022
How to find a good home inspector while buying a house?
Home inspections may seem like a rudimentary task in the home-buying process, but they are actually vital when buying a house. A home inspection will reveal any potential problems with a home, as well as offer suggestions on how to fix those problems before the real estate transaction is closed. Buyers can leverage home inspections to get a lower price on the house or to get out of buying a house that would’ve been a money pit.
Porch did a survey on 1,000 home buyers who hired a home inspector and found out how essential home inspections are to the home buying process. According to Porch, 88% of home buyers used an inspector when buying their most recent house. Of those inspections, 86% of them identified at least one problem in the house that needed to be addressed. Lastly, 46% of home buyers used the inspection to negotiate a lower purchase price with the seller.
It’s clear that home inspections have immense value in the home buying process but there are a lot of home inspectors to choose from. It can be difficult to determine which inspector is worth the money and will do a good job. In this blog post, we detail how to find a good home inspector while buying a home.
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a non-invasive, examination of the structure of a property as well as the systems within it in order to determine the overall condition of a property. In the home buying process, home inspections are usually the buyer’s last chance to unearth any potential problems a property has. If an issue is uncovered in an inspection, buyers have the opportunity to negotiate a better deal or back out of buying the house entirely. Depending on the technology available to the inspector, they may be able to expand what is examined during an inspection but usually, the inspector looks at:
- Foundation and Exterior Structure
- Interior Rooms
- HVAC Systems
- Electrical Systems
- Walls, floors, windows, ceilings, and doors
Home Inspection vs Appraisal
While home inspections and appraisals are both visual examinations of a property, they serve two different purposes in the home buying process. An appraisal is required by the mortgage lender to provide a professional evaluation of the property’s current market value. This is done to make sure that the buyer isn’t paying more for a property than it’s actually worth and to protect the mortgage lender’s investment.
Lenders will only lend up to the amount that the appraisal determines which means if the appraisal comes in low, the buyer might have to bring more cash to the table or look for a different property. Home inspections, on the other hand, are not required by many mortgage lenders but they are highly recommended.
How To Find a Good Home Inspector
There are over 30,000 home inspectors in the US so it can be difficult to determine which inspector is worth the money and will do a good job. Here are a few tips on how to find a good home inspector while buying a home.
1. Start Your Search Early
Home inspections happen soon after the offer for the house is accepted by the seller. By the time they do, buyers won’t have much time to look for an inspector, so it’s critical to get started early. Before starting your house hunt, begin your search for a reputable home inspector that you can trust. This way you’ll already have an inspector in mind when it comes time to do the inspection.
2. Ask For Referrals
One of the best ways to find a reputable home inspector is to ask for referrals from family, friends, co-workers, and your real estate agent. These people will likely have had previous experience with home inspectors and can give you an honest opinion about who they would recommend. It’s also easier to trust the recommendations of people you know and trust.
3. Interview the Inspector
If you want to see if a home inspector is reputable, the best way is to simply ask them. There are a few key questions you should ask to get an idea of their professionalism, experience, and expertise. Here are some examples.
- How long have you been a home inspector?
- Do you have ongoing training and stay updated on new policies, trends, etc.?
- What is a typical inspection? How long does it usually take and what can I expect?
- Do you use any technology during the inspection?
- Are you specialized in any other types of inspections?
- Do you have a sample inspection report that I can review? What is typically included?
- Can I get contact information for some references?
- Are you certified or licensed?
- Are you bonded and insured?
- Are you a member of a professional association, like ASHI or InterNACHI?
- Are you a full-time home inspector?
4. Don’t Look For a Deal
The average home inspection costs around $400 but some inspectors will offer their services for a lower price. These deals may be tempting but be wary of inspectors who are significantly cheaper than their competitors. A lower price may mean that the inspector is cutting corners or not doing a thorough job. It’s important to remember that a home inspection is an important step in the home buying process and you don’t want to skimp on quality.
5. Shop Around
According to the survey done by Porch, 72% of home buyers who had a home inspection done looked at only one inspector before deciding to hire him or her. Comparing multiple inspectors allows you to get a better idea of what services are available and which ones are better for your needs. It’s also a good way to compare prices and find an inspector that you feel comfortable with.
What To Look For In A Home Inspector
When looking for a good home inspector, there are a few signs you can look for to simplify the process. Here is what to look for in a home inspector in order to find a reputable one.
1. Check Certifications and Licenses
The requirements to become a home inspector varies depending on the state you live in. Many states require that prospective inspectors obtain a license to practice but other states don’t require anything. Checking a home inspector’s license should be the first step in the process of hiring one. Many home inspection companies will display their license on their website. You can also ask the inspectors directly if they are licensed.
Certification is different from licensing. Certification is done by professional home inspection organizations like the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). In order to become certified, home inspectors must complete a certain amount of inspections in compliance with the organization’s standards and must pass an exam. Certification is not required to be a home inspector but it does show that the inspector has agreed to the highest standards in the business.
Professional home inspector organizations can also provide recommendations for home inspectors in your area on their websites.
2. Look For Insured Inspectors
Although house inspections may not appear to be a hazardous profession, inspectors must get into all sorts of compromising situations in order to inspect the property. From crawling in crawl spaces to climbing into attics, home inspectors put themselves at risk of being injured on the job. Without insurance to cover these potential accidents, an inspector could sue you if they were to get hurt while on your property. Insured or bonded inspectors are the safest and best option when looking for a home inspector.
3. Inspectors Should Have Good Experience
A home inspector without the experience or track record to back up their services is a huge risk. They are practically a wild card on whether or not they will do a good job and for such a huge purchase, it’s probably not worth the gamble. How long an inspector has been in business as well as the amount of home inspections that they have done is a solid indicator of a good home inspector.
4. Find Reviews Online
There are many ways to find out information on home inspectors these days. With the internet, it’s easier than ever to find reviews for home inspectors in your area. Checking online review sites like Yelp, Angi, Google, or even Facebook can give you some idea of what most customers have experienced working with certain inspectors.
5. Avoid Inspection Companies That Also Do Repairs and Renovations
Conflicts of interest can easily arise when an inspection company also offers repairs or renovations. It’s in their best interest to find as many problems with the property as possible so that you will be more likely to use their services to fix them. Of course, not all companies that offer repairs or renovations are dishonest but it’s something to consider in your search for a home inspector.
6. Thorough Home Inspection Reports
Inspection reports are the main way home inspectors will communicate with you about the condition of the property. A good inspection report will be thorough, easy to understand, and have photos or videos to back up the inspector’s findings. The home inspection report should also be delivered in a timely manner so that you can make decisions about the property. You can find sample reports on many home inspection company websites and if not, you can always ask to see one before hiring an inspector.
What To Do On Inspection Day
Before inspection day comes, it’s recommended to verify with the home inspector if you or someone else can be present during the inspection. Many times, home inspectors will allow you to follow them around and ask questions as they go. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the property and what potential repairs may be needed. You can also keep an eye on the inspector to make sure they are being thorough in their inspection. Although, don’t be disruptive as the inspector is doing their job and needs to focus.
If you can’t be present during the inspection, you can ask your real estate agent if they can attend in your place. If not, home inspectors will be happy to go over the inspection report with you in person or over the phone so that you can ask any questions that you may have.
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