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Home Inspections for First Time Home-Buyers: What To Expect


If you're buying a home, one of the most important ways you can protect your financial investment is to pay for a comprehensive and professional home inspection.


Sure, your dad or handy uncle may come in and be happy to give some advice about the state of the house, but they simply can't spend 2-4 hours looking through the home, nor do they have the experience a home inspector has in finding common issues.


It is almost always recommended to invest in a home inspection. Unfortunately, the lucrative, low interest real estate market of 2021 through late 2022 had buyers who needed to get competitive with their offers,- so they waived their home inspection! According to an August 2022 article by Realtor Magazine:


"Even as late as July, 27% of home buyers were waiving the inspection contingency, according to the REALTORS® Confidence Index"

A whopping 27% of home buyers took the strategy of waiving an inspection to get a house. Hopefully it worked out for them, but a more interesting statistic would be knowing what percent of those homebuyers discovered major, costly issues with the home after they closed on the deal. Thankfully, as the market cools off a bit with higher interest rates, buyers are regaining negotiating power, and offers with an inspection contingency are becoming more commonplace again.


So, if you're in the market to buy your first home, what can you expect with a home inspection?


Understand what a home inspection is (and isn't)


There can often be a misunderstanding between what the role of a home inspector is and what a home inspector can actually do. Often, whatever state or jurisdiction you live in will dictate what a home inspector is and isn't required to do.


At Sighthound Home Inspections, LLC we maintain both a certification with InterNACHI (the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) and a required Florida state-issued Home Inspectors license. Both InterNACHI and Florida have similar Standards of Practice, which outline what a home inspector is required to report on.


So, what exactly is a home inspection?


A home inspection is a visual examination of the home's major structure, systems and components that are visible and safely accessible. The inspector should substantially adhere to a standards of practice that outlines what should be covered during a general home inspection, as well as what is excluded. (Source: InterNACHI)

To reiterate, a home inspection checks for systems and components that are both visible and safely accessible.


A home inspection is non-invasive, meaning the home inspector won't be ripping up floors or roofing shingles to see what underlayment was used (if any). If there is an issue hidden inside a wall, a home inspector won't report on it (unless you can find one that can see any issue while looking through walls. In that case, we highly recommend you hire that home inspector).


Inspectors will also only be able to check areas that are safely accessible. If an inspector opens the crawlspace access panel to find 2 inches of standing water with electrical wires dangling everywhere, the inspector won't risk their life to perform an inspection of the crawlspace.


Home inspectors should outline what they will and will not inspect in their pre-inspection agreement, a contract that is usually required to be signed between the inspector and the client that hires them. It should clearly describe what their inspection report will cover, and also disclaim any parts of the home inspection the inspector is not responsible for.


Find an inspector who has the heart of a teacher


Unfortunately, home buyers may find that many home inspectors simply arrive to the home, complete the inspection, send the report, and move on to the next job.


It's important to find a home inspector that can also teach you about your home, how it works, and what improvements you should consider over the first few years of home ownership.


Sighthound Home Inspections, LLC highly recommends that its clients attend the entire home inspection. For a homebuyer, it may not be feasible to spend 2-4 hours walking around the inside of a home. If that's the case, we recommend that at the very least our clients attend the last 30 to 45 minutes of the inspection to go over certain findings and learn important locations (main water shut off, breaker panel, etc.) along with how to maintain certain systems and components.


Additionally, Sighthound Home Inspections, LLC provides a free book to our clients who choose us for their full home inspections titled "Now That You've Had a Home Inspection in

Florida" published by InterNACHI. The book is a reference guide for new homeowners about appliance lifespan, information about important parts of the home, recommended annual maintenance, and important problems to watch out for in the new home. This book is essentially a free user manual for your new home and is geared specifically to maintaining homes in the windy, humid, and rainy environment of Florida.


Finally, a home inspector should provide you with a copy of the inspection report within 24 hours of the inspection being completed. The inspector should also spend time with the client on the phone to go over various findings, and to be able to answer any questions the prospective homebuyer might have.


Don't panic at a lengthy home inspection report


You paid for an inspection, and the inspector completed the report. Don't be alarmed when you view the report and find it is over 60 pages long, or longer. While it may seem like an overwhelming amount of information, a long report doesn't necessarily indicate the house you're buying is a disaster.


Real Estate agents often refer to home inspectors as "deal killers". The inspectors referred to in this manner often list all deficiencies in a home without an explanation to the potential

buyer. While a home inspector is required to report on certain items of concern, many of them are primarily recommendations to make the home safer and more efficient. This is why it's so important to hire an inspector with the heart of a teacher-- it can help put the buyer's mind at ease. There are very few "perfect" homes; there are always going to be parts of a home that could use upgrading or improvement, and your inspector may be listing these.


Certainly, if an inspector finds a major structural, electrical, or other safety concern, it will be reported on in a realistic manner. These major issues alone, if the repair is found to be too expensive, are the real "deal killers"- the home inspector was just the person that found them. Home inspectors always recommend a major issue be examined by the appropriate licensed contractor (i.e.,- a structural issue should be assessed by a structural engineer, not a plumber) in the report.


Your home inspector should be realistic and non-alarmist in their report writing. Your home inspector should also know where their expertise begins and ends. They should not provide a financial estimate for a repair, nor should they provide instructions on how something specialized should be fixed. A home inspector should also never offer or accept an offer for them to repair something in the home for a fee; this can be seen as a slippery slope where the inspector is only finding deficiencies, knowing they'll make more money on the repairs too.



When finding an inspector, do your own research


When you're in the home buying process, your real estate agent can be a wealth of information about buying the home. Often, buyers rely on recommendations for a home inspector from their real estate agent. While this may be a good source of information, it's highly recommended to do your own research for a home inspector.


Real estate agents may recommend one or two different inspectors. However, it's important to understand the home inspector works for YOU, not your agent. You need to find an inspector you feel comfortable working with, and who will provide what you expect in an inspection.


Agents may be more familiar with one inspector in particular, but you may find another inspector uses different tools, or takes more of a one-on-one approach while conducting the inspection with you present. One home inspector's approach may not quite suit what you're looking for so be sure to shop around to find one that works for you.


In fact, ConsumerReports.org states in an article titled "How to Choose a Home Inspector"


"A real estate agent wants to close the deal, and that incentive may be at odds with that of the inspector, who gets paid for his report. If the report raises too many issues, or serious ones, it can be used to negotiate a lower price or even scuttle the deal."

Instead, we recommend you contact and interview up to three or four different inspectors that catch your eye. Ask the following questions and compare how they answer them:

  • How much do you charge for a full home inspection?

  • What's included in your full home inspection?

  • What sets your inspections apart from the others?

  • Do you use any special tools (thermal imaging, drones, etc.)

  • Do you charge extra for the use of any of those special tools?

  • How long do your inspections usually take, and how soon do I get the report?

You'll likely come up with more questions, but we recommend you use these as a starting point. The goal is to figure out if the inspector is going to treat you like "just another job" or if they'll take on the role of an advisor and a teacher to help you understand what they're looking for while they inspect your home.


As always, ensure the inspector you hire is licensed in the state you're hiring them in, and see what special certifications they have, if any.



Conclusion

The home inspection phase can be beneficial on many fronts. Beyond just having an inspector locate problems within a home, a buyer can use the inspection as an opportunity to learn about their new home- things that will need to be monitored, parts of the home that need repaired, and useful information about how the house works.


By choosing to not waive your home inspection, selecting the right home inspector for you, and having reasonable expectations of what a home inspection covers, you can go through your inspection contingency knowing you have a strong advocate on your side who will help protect the financial investment of your new home.


Want to learn more about home inspections in the NW Florida area? Contact Sighthound Home Inspections, LLC for a free estimate for your full home inspection, pre-listing inspection, or insurance inspections! Call today at 850-296-8329 or read more at www.SighthoundHomeInspections.com







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