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Buying a Home and Conducting a Property Inspection

Updated on October 23, 2017
Nancy Owens profile image

Nancy has experience training her cats to talk and has learned their various vocal cues.

Buying Your Dream Home

When buying a home, inspecting the house and property is important.
When buying a home, inspecting the house and property is important. | Source

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Finding the Home You Want

Conducting an inspection is a major component of finding the home you really want to buy.

For the purposes of this article, we will proceed as if you already know how much money you can get for a home loan, and are ready to begin the selection process of the house you will ultimately purchase. In this section we will cover the process of figuring out what type of home will suit your needs for the money you can afford to pay.

The following is a general list of things to consider before you go house hunting:

  • Consider wants VS actual needs
  • How many bedrooms do you need? How many bathrooms do you need.
  • Are you looking for a starter home or your dream home?
  • No home will be absolutely perfect. Allow some room for a few general repairs in your budget.
  • What location is desirable? Many things to consider here, like school district, proximity to work, traffic, and general neighborhood considerations. Do you want to live on a quiet street?
  • Lawn and lot care. Do you want a yard, or do you want something that is or can be made into an easy maintenance lot. There is always some maintenance, even if you have a completely rock or paved area. Owning a home will require at least some outside maintenance.
  • How large of a home do you need? This can vary depending on the layout of a home. Some homes that are efficiently laid out can be very comfortable on less square footage. Be ware of three bedroom homes built in 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. They can become very crowded very quickly.
  • What other attributes are you hoping for in this house purchase? Do you want a garage, or could you live with a carport instead? Do you need two bathrooms, or could you live with and be happy with one?
  • Do you, or will you have pets? If so, how much room will they realistically need? Very small dogs can thrive in small yards. If you have a St. Bernard, you may have to give up something in order to have a large enough yard for the dog.

Realtors and Home Buyers

Most people work with a Realtor when looking for a home to buy. If you have found some homes you want to look at, it can be better for you not to contact the listing agent to view the home. Why? Because the listing agent represents the seller. If you go through the listing agent to initially view the home, then if you buy it, you are bound by what is known as "Dual Agent" Which means that the listing agent represents both buyer and seller. The listing agent is the person whose name is on the For Sale sign, or in the real estate flyer or booklet.

Contact a different real estate company and have them show you the home. This way, that Realtor represents you, and you only in the negotiations if you decide to buy it. Any licensed Realtor can show you a home. It does not have to be the person or company that lists the home.

How do you feel when you walk in the door?

Take a moment to decide how you feel when you walk in the door of a prospective home.
Take a moment to decide how you feel when you walk in the door of a prospective home. | Source

House For Sale: The First Walk-Through

How to approach the first walk-through of a home:

  • Bring a notebook to make notes, including the address of the home.
  • Take several photos of the home with a camera or cell phone.
  • Walk around outside and check for vents in the foundation, and on the roof. Make note of the general condition of things, such as cracks in the foundation, water faucets, fencing, siding, roofing (is it curling or missing in places?)
  • Walk in the front door and pause. Breathe deeply and get a sense of how it feels when you walk in the door.
  • Make note of any dings and damages you see.
  • Make note of things you would want to change about the place.
  • Open cupboards and drawers, turn on the faucets if the water is on, flip light switches, and flush the toilet.
  • Check for discolorations around the bath / shower areas and in the ceiling.

Okay. That is enough for the first walk through. By this time you have a general impression of the home. Keep your insights close at this point. View only one or two homes per day to prevent the various aspects of each home from blurring in your memory.

View the Electrical Wiring

It does not take an expert to see that this electrical wiring is not good. HOWEVER, the building seems sound and there does not appear to be any rotten wood or water leakage. You can expect to see things like this in shops and garages.
It does not take an expert to see that this electrical wiring is not good. HOWEVER, the building seems sound and there does not appear to be any rotten wood or water leakage. You can expect to see things like this in shops and garages. | Source

Conducting The Home Inspection

Most people hire a licensed property inspector to do the home inspection. However, you are not required to do it quite this way. You can have a licensed electrician, plumber, or general contractor come inspect the home, and sometimes this is cheaper than the cost of a home inspector. I recently paid a licensed electrician $80 to inspect and give a professional opinion on the wiring in a small home I was considering. The available home inspectors were licensed but they were not electricians. They did not have the knowledge I was seeking. Since that was the only major concern I had with the home, I saved some money and got a more qualified expert opinion.

What Does A Home Inspector Do? They flip the light switches, turn on faucets, check rooms for dings, damages and discolorations. They look for cracks in the foundation. They look at the roof, they may go into the attic to look for insulation, and at times may go under the house to check for vapor barriers and the size and accessibility of the crawl space. In some states they are allowed to remove outlet or light switch covers to check for burned or discolored wires. They do check outlets to see if they are working in my particular state. While this is not an all-inclusive list, as you can see, many of these things are easily done by the buyer. The inspectors do go through a training program to become licensed, and their service can be valuable.

Qualifications of the Inspector: Most home inspectors are not licensed electricians or plumbers. Anyone can take a course online to become a licensed home inspector.

Fees: Depending on where you live, home inspection fees can range from about $350.00 to as much as $800.00 or more.

Doing the Inspection Yourself: If you are knowledgeable about remodeling, work for a general contractor, or really good at doing research, you may opt to do the inspection yourself. Most people, however should consult with an expert of some type.

Research Not Covered by the Inspector: The property inspector will not tell you what the electric bills and water/sewer/garbage bills run on the home. They will not give cost estimates. These are things you should check into on your own. Often times, busy Realtors will simply answer, "I don't know" when you ask about these things. After the first walk-through, and before the inspection, you can easily call the utility companies and ask for information about the water bills. When doing this, take note of any unusual spikes in the water bills which may indicate a problem with the main water line leaking into the ground, etc.

Look up the property at your county Assessor's Office online: Simply type in your browser, ________ County Assessor's Office. Go to the Tax tab to find out how much the property taxes run, look at the county appraisal tab to see the assessed home value, recorded square footage, lot size and more. This is free and provides valuable information to the home buyer.

Have the water to the property turned on: There is usually a small turn-on / turn-off fee for this. Just call the city and make arrangements to do this. Make sure that someone can quickly turn the water off again if you find a broken pipe. Many sellers will turn the water off to a property in order to save money on the water / sewer/ and garbage charges in vacant homes. Paying to have the water turned on in order to check for leaks is always a good idea.

Will You Be Happy With Your New Home?

It is worth the effort of making a thorough investigation in order to make sure you are happy with your new home purchase.
It is worth the effort of making a thorough investigation in order to make sure you are happy with your new home purchase. | Source

Evaluating Inspection Results and Comparing Homes

By making a chart similar to the one shown below, you can easily compare the various attributes of the homes you are considering. Write down as much information as you can about each one. Be sure to include the addresses so that you can look them up in the county assessor's site.

Try to spend some time driving around the neighborhood, and I always advise getting a takeout meal and just parking in the driveway on a Friday or Saturday night to see what kind of rebel rousers and other traffic goes on in the neighborhood on the weekends. Take note of the other houses on the street to see if the people who live there take pride in the appearance of their homes.

All things considered, this may seem like a lot of effort to go to in order to make a decision about which home to buy, but in the long run, it really pays off.

Happy house hunting!

Compare Homes for Sale

Home One
Home 2
Home 3
Sale Price:
Sale Price:
Sale Price:
Number of Bedrooms
Number of Bedrooms
Number of Bedrooms
Heating and Air:
Heating and Air
Heating and Air
Foundation Type
Foundation Type
Foundation Type
Total Square Footage
Total Square Footage
Total Square Footage
Roof and Foundation Vents
Roof and Foundation Vents
Roof and Foundation Vents

© 2014 Nancy Owens


Submit a Comment
  • sarojnaagar profile image

    Saroj Naagar 

    7 years ago from New Delhi, India

    Very nice pic......really nature is too beautiful

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you, JayeWisdom , for your kind comment. I am so sorry about your house. Yesterday we had the electrical inspection on the little house my father and I were considering. The home owner had done some very convoluted wiring, and I had anticipated around $2500 to fix it. But... The electrician estimated 7 to 10 thousand because there are major accessibility issues involved. For example, we started talking about just clipping off all the old wiring and putting in all new in, but then realized we would have to cut holes in the floors just to cap off the old wiring, then cut a bunch of holes in the ceiling and walls.

    I am so glad I had the electrician come inspect. I just told the realator that the seller would have to reduce the price by $22,000 in order for it to be feasible for me to purchase.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 

    7 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Even though I paid a licensed home inspector to conduct a "thorough" inspection on the house I bought 13 years ago, there were many problems with the property that weren't discovered or reported to me in that inspection. Consequently, I had to spend much more on repairs than I'd anticipated, making me wish I'd bought a newly-built house instead. Wish I'd known (before buying) everything you've described so well in this article. This is an excellent guide for anyone in the market for real estate.

    Voted Up, Useful and Interesting


  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you for telling me! I didn't know it was in the top ten. Thank you also for the kind words. You are right, the heart won't lie, and when it is right it is right. I have a friend who bought a house because of a cubby hole she liked. It needed a lot of work but they are still happy with it.

  • Millionaire Tips profile image

    Shasta Matova 

    7 years ago from USA

    Congratulations on being on the top 10 hubs for the day. You've provided lots of useful information here. Trying to compare different houses is difficult, but following the logic that you have presented does help. Eventually, once you have internalized the logic and decided what you really want, then you can let intuition take over. You will know when you have found the right house because your heart will tell you so.

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you so much for stopping by and taking a read. You are so kind in your praise. There is so much more to this subject that it was difficult to find a stopping place and I am thinking about writing more on this subject. Thanks again.

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you, Mary, for the kind words. I am thinking of writing another Hub that expands on this subject. With the real estate markets picking up all across the country, it is important to make a choice that one will be happy with for a long period of time. The purchase of a home is one of the largest and most important decisions most people will make in their life. Buying a home and then finding out it isn't the right one can be devastating to the buyer and have long term financial consequences. With this Hub I was hoping to help home buyers avoid this. Thank you for reading.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    This is thorough, good quality information. You have covered this topic well! Voted up and more, sharing.

  • Mary McShane profile image

    Mary McShane 

    7 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    I think this is a great resource for those in the market for a house - whether they are a first time buyer or not - to use as a guideline. Those who are not first time home buyers may just forget what to look for since it has been so long. Your article will refresh their memory. They didn't have cellphones with cameras when I bought my house, but it is a great idea and good advice. Voted up and shared.


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