ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Selling your home? Pay for a home inspection first to save money later

Updated on July 2, 2013
Some buyers may want new windows after a home inspection
Some buyers may want new windows after a home inspection | Source

The Home Inspection Negotiation

It takes a lot to get a house ready for market. You have to declutter, paint, declutter again, clean the windows, declutter some more. You spruce up the yard, fix those little annoyances you've lived with for so long you've stopped really seeing them (a loose toilet paper holder, a squeaky regrigerator door...) and interview real estate agents. You study comparables and work with the agent to find the right price and marketing strategy. Then you live as carefully as you can in your newly spic-and-span house, on notice that a prospective could pop by at any time.

In all this hubbub it's natural for a seller to be focused on getting an offer. The seller will anticipate haggling over price and run a variety of scenarios through their mind: What if the a buyer low-balls me? What if a buyer offers full price but wants thousands in closing costs? What if there are multiple offers -- how do play the buyers off each other, and how do I choose the strongest one? This is a smart process because it allow you to be ready for any contingency. But in their eagerness to focus on price, many sellers forget that's only the first of many negotiations yet to come. And in many cases, reaching an agreement on price is a lot easier than negotiating items that turn up in a home inspection. These disputes have the potential to turn bitter, fast, because they can have a dramatic impact on short-term cash-flow. A distressed seller needs every dollar from the sale and may be reluctant to fix a loose banister, for instance. A buyer, on the other hand, is likely hemmoraghing cash to get into the house and won't be eager to incur additional expenses after they move in.

One way to head off a clash like this as a seller is to get your own home inspection ahead of time. While this advice may not be valid in all instances (for example, there's no point if you advertise your house "as is" and price it lower accordingly), it can pave the way for a smoother transaction all-around.


How a Home Inspector Works

A home inspection costs about $400 (paid at the time of inspection) and can last three or four hours or longer. When I bought my most recent house last year, the inspection lasted six hours. You can find a home inspector either by asking a real estate agent or by consulting the American Society of Home Inspectors.

A home inspector will determine that everything in your home meets building code and functions properly. This includes the structure and foundation of your house, including things like decks and patios. It means ensuring the stove and refrigerator work, the electric box is safe, and whether not there's evidence there's been water in the basement. An inspector can also test wells, septic systems, and for radon, usually for an additional cost.

A good inspector will examine every inch of the house, from the darkest corner of your basement to the eaves of your attic into which you may never have ventured yourself. He or she will make notes along the way, pointing out deficiencies large and small. These observations will be supported by photographs and they will be recorded in a thorough report, usually within a couple of days after completing the inspection. When your buyers receive this report, they will prepare a list of things they want fixed before they'll agree to buy the house. Some things you'll be required to do (for example, any issues with electrical or plumbing). Others you can reject if you don't think it will kill the deal.


Example of a spalling brick
Example of a spalling brick

Poll on Home Repairs

Which is the most expensive repair?

See results

Common Home Inspection Issues

According to HGTV, some issues arise with regularity during home inspections, especially in older homes. They include:

  • Drainage issues with landscaping, especially any slope that directs water towards the home.
  • Defficient stucco.
  • Problems with the roof.
  • Antiquated or amateur electrical wiring.
  • Inadequate ventilation in the attic.
  • Defective heating and cooling systems.
  • Cracks at window and door corners caused by poor sealing.

In my own experience, I can add a few other possible things to watch out for:

  • Old fuse box. If you're buying an older house, the fuse box may not be adequate to handle modern electronics. Some, including any manufactured by a company called Federal Pacific, are fire hazards in their own right and should be replaced. Replacing one can cost several thousand dollars.
  • Loose banisters. If you buy a house with a staircase and the banister is loose due to decades of children whipping around on it, know that's an extraordinarily expensive repair. We had to pay more than $1,300 to secure ours.
  • Outlets that aren't grounded or converted to GFCI. One or two is no big deal. An entire floor or house adds up quick.
  • Bathroom and dryer vents that aren't ventilated outside. Just into the attic isn't good enough for code.
  • Lead paint. Know that any house build before 1978 pretty much is guaranteed to have lead paint. This isn't a deal killer but know what you're getting into and how to work safely with it.
  • Asbestos. If you own or are buying a house built before, say, 1980, you likely have asbestos either in floor tiles or insulating joists. Remediation is ridiculously expensive.
  • Chimneys and masonry. We had bricks spalling on a chimney of a house we sold. We were quoted $400 to replace six bricks. Ouch.



Should I Get my Own Inspection?

That's quite an expensive punch-list, right? Why would you, as a seller, want to pay an inspector $400 to discover these or similar problems about your home before you put it on the market if a buyer is going to also pay another inspector to discover the same things?

I can think of two reasons: 1) Any defects you don't want to repair you can disclose in your listing, meaning a buyer can't really demand it be fixed as part of the home inspection deficiency since they presumably priced the defect in when they made their offer. 2) If there are things you need to fix, you have time to shop around for the best price rather than frantically searching for a contractor just weeks before settlement.

Identifying and fixing problems ahead of time also means fewer things will turn up on a buyers' inspection report, which will give greater confidence that your home has been well-maintained. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes for a moment: How do you feel if you make an offer and then subsequently receive a list of 30 defects from a home inspector? Now think about receiving a home inspectors report that lists just a handful of problems. Which makes you feel better about paying six figures or more for a home?

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)