Frequently Asked Questions by Home Buyers

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What is a home inspection?

A Home inspection is a visual examination of the structure and systems of a building. If you are thinking of buying a home, condominium, mobile home, or commercial building, you should have it thoroughly inspected before the final purchase by an experienced and impartial professional inspector.

Why Do I Need A Home Inspection?

The purchase of a home or commercial building is one of the largest single investments you will ever make. You should know exactly what to expect — both indoors and out — in terms of needed and future repairs and maintenance. A fresh coat of paint could be hiding serious structural problems. Stains on the ceiling may indicate a chronic roof leakage problem or may be simply the result of a single incident. The inspector interprets these and other clues, then presents a professional opinion as to the condition of the property so you can avoid unpleasant surprises afterward. Of course, an inspection will also point out the positive aspects of a building, as well as the type of maintenance needed to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase, and be able to make your decision confidently.

What Does A Home Inspection Include?

A complete inspection includes a visual examination of the building from top to bottom. The inspector evaluates and reports the condition of the structure, roof, foundation, drainage, plumbing, heating system, central air-conditioning system, visible insulation, walls, windows, and doors. Only those items that are visible and accessible by normal means are included in the report.

When Do I Request A Home Inspector?

The best time to consult the home inspector is right after you’ve made an offer on your new home. The real estate contract usually allows for a grace period to inspect the property. Ask your professional agent to include this home inspection clause in the contract, making your purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection.

Can My House “FAIL” The Home Inspection?

No. A professional home inspection is simply an examination into the current condition of your prospective real estate purchase. It is not an appraisal or a municipal code inspection. A home inspector, therefore will not pass or fail a house but will simply describe its condition and indicate which items will be in need of minor or major repairs or replacement.

Should I Attend The Inspection?

It is not necessary for you to be present during the inspection, but it is a good idea to be present for the final walk-through. By being available at the end of the inspection, you will see first hand what the inspector has gleaned from the inspection as opposed to seeing it written in the report. As good as our reports are with photos, videos and informative narratives, it is always helpful to see it in person as well. You will also be able to ask questions, voice any concerns you may have and you will learn about your new prospective home and get helpful information on the home’s system, structure and general maintenance requirements. Information that will be of great help to you after you’ve moved in.

Frequently Asked Questions by Home Seller's

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What is a Pre-Listing home inspection?

More and more home sellers are being urged to obtain a home inspections prior to listing their homes for sale. A pre-listing home inspection consists of a non-invasive physical examination of a home’s systems, structures and components intended to identify material defects that exist at the time of inspection and before the house is listed for sale. The heating and cooling equipment is activated along with operating plumbing fixtures, testing accessible electrical outlets and fixture and operating a representative sampling of doors and windows. Visual inspection of the roof, walls and drainage adjacent to the home are also included.

Why Do I Need A Pre-Listing Home Inspection?

Because of the wide range of construction practices and the “normal” wear and tear placed on the components of home, a professional pre-listing home inspection can help provide a wealth of information to a home seller anxious to convey the condition of their home to perspective buyers. Professional pre-listing home inspections can also discover unknown conditions allowing sellers an opportunity to perform desired repairs before placing the property on the market. A professional “pre-listing home inspection” is just good business and it usually facilitates a smoother transaction by putting potential buyers at ease while reducing negotiating points and bypassing annoying delays.

Disclosure Laws in Texas for Home Sales

Seller disclosures in Texas are governed by Texas Property Code Section § 5.008. That statute provides: “A seller of residential real property comprising not more than one dwelling unit located in this state shall give to the purchaser of the property a written notice” of material defects in the property. The statute asks sellers to use the disclosure formdeveloped by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), which is a state agency charged with generally overseeing the real estate market.

This form must be delivered to the buyer “on or before the effective date” of the property purchase contract. In other words, you cannot have the buyer sign the purchase contract a d become bound by it, and then a week later, hand the buyer a disclosure form saying that the electricity in the house does not work. Obviously, this sort of material defect would have influenced the buyer’s decision about the transaction, or at least the price the buyer was willing to pay for the home.

If you fail to deliver the disclosure form pre-contract, the buyer may terminate the contract for any reason within seven days after receiving the notice from you. Given all of the uncertainties and stresses involved in selling your home, you do not want to create this additional layer of uncertainty by allowing the buyer to escape the contract.

Both you and the buyer will sign the disclosure form, as proof that it has been given and received. (Obviously, you should retain a copy for your records.)

Do I Have to Repair Everything Wrong With The House?

A pre-listing home inspection report is not intended to be a “To Do” list for the home seller. Sellers are not obligated to repair conditions noted in the report, nor are they required to produce a flawless house. With a pre-listing home inspection, you the home seller can choose to make repairs on previously unknown defects on your terms, and in advance of listing the home for sale. This also eliminates being pressured to use the first contractor that can fit you into their busy schedule. Conversely, if making the repairs does not make sense you can always present the items “as is” and reflected in the purchase price. Either way, the transaction will go smoother and faster with the buyer feeling secure that you have been forthright. Otherwise, you can count on the buyer’s inspector finding them, at the worst possible time, causing delays, and costing you more money. Sellers maintain the legal right to refuse repair demands, except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance, or the real estate purchase contract.

Is There Anything I Can Do Better To Maintain My Home?

Inspection reports often identify the same neglected maintenance items. Performing some basic maintenance will not only help keep your home in better condition, but will undoubtedly prove to be momentarily worth the effort when it comes time to sell your house by reducing the chance of negative conditions showing up on the inspection report. So to present a better maintained home to perspective buyers, follow the following tips, most of which can be accomplished with little or no cost.

  • Clean both rain gutters and any roof debris and trim back excessive foliage from the exterior siding.
  • Divert all water away from the house that comes from rain gutter downspouts and sump pump discharge locations.
  • Clean or replace all furnace filters.
  • Remove grade or mulch from contact with siding (preferable 6-8 inches of clearance).
  • Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around trim, chimneys, windows, doors, and all exterior wall penetrations.
  • Make sure all windows and doors are in proper operating condition and quickly replace any cracked windowpanes.
  • Replace burned out light bulbs.
  • Keep all toilets, tubs, showers and sinks in good condition and quickly repair any leaks that occasionally appear.
  • Keep garage and basement interiors clean and provide clear access to attic, foundation crawl spaces, heating and cooling systems, water heaters and electrical panels.

How Do I Locate A Qualified Inspector?

It is imperative that the seller secures the services of a qualified home inspector. Make sure to hire an inspector who is both trained and experienced in home inspection, maintains proper insurance, and is a member of a professional association such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). Click here to find a InterNACHI Inspector in your area.

  • Professional Affiliation: Professional affiliation with a reputable home inspection organization is a must. But like anything else, not all professional home inspection organizations are created equal. InterNACHI is America’s elite home inspection association. InterNACHI turns down more than 60% of the inspectors who want to join them because they can’t pass their Inspectors Exam, and they turn down 90% of those left because they can’t fulfill their membership requirements. Membership in InterNACHIrequires obtaining initial training, passing a rigorous membership exam, and mandatory adherence to professional standards of practice and participation in ongoing education (a minimum of 24 hours per year). When you choose a home inspector, you should specify membership in InterNACHI.
  • Inspection Experience: Of paramount importance is an inspector’s actual level of direct experience in the practice of home inspection. A general contractor’s license can be an important credential, but when it comes to home inspection, a license to build indicates very little as it relates to competence as a property inspector. The experience that matters most is specific home inspection training and experience, not building experience.
  • Avoid Price Shopping: Home inspection fees vary widely. A home is the most expensive commodity you are likely to purchase and or sell in a lifetime. One defect missed by your inspector could cost 100 times what you save with a bargain inspection. The best method for choosing a home inspector is to shop for quality. Considering the high cost of real estate today, an inspection fee is a small price to pay. It can save thousands of dollars and years of regret. InterNACHIcertified inspectors earn their fees many times over. As the most qualified inspectors, 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.