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Five Facts About Home Inspectors and Inspections

Real estate transactions often hinge on the competence of the home inspector involved in the sale. If you’re hiring someone to inspect the home you want to buy, or you’re a seller trying to find out if any hidden problems need fixing before you put your home on the market, here are five things you need to know: 

  1. Choose a licensed, accredited home inspector. 
    Several states such as California, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, don’t require inspectors to be licensed, according to Homeinspector.org, but many require that inspectors be members of an accredited home inspector organization. According to ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, members must meet strict membership criteria including training, adherence to standards of practice and code of ethics, and continuing education, pertaining to each of their three levels of membership. 

    Home inspectors are recognized for their experience and continuing education by earning the ASHI Certified Inspector (ACI) designation, the highest level of ASHI membership.
  2. Home Sellers can get inspections before they list their home. 
    Nachi.org (InterNACHI), offers a service called the “Move-In Certified Seller Inspection” which allows home sellers to confirm that there’re no major systems in need of repair or replacement and no safety hazards.  If the inspection finds a problem, the seller has the option to fix it before putting their home on the market. The marketing advantage is that it puts homebuyers at ease and puts the seller in a better position to get their asking price. Some repairs may have to be disclosed to the buyer, but at least last-minute negotiations or contract collapses can be avoided. 
  3. Home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions, not cosmetic flaws.
    No house is perfect and an inspection on any home is bound to uncover faults. The typical inspector considers nearly a thousand items during an average inspection. While it may vary from house to house, a professional home inspection includes the home's exterior, deck (contiguous), foundation and walls, chimneys and roofs, windows and doors, attics, electrical components, plumbing, central heating and air conditioning, basement/crawlspaces, and garages. 

    The home inspector will point out adverse or questionable conditions and/or potential safety-related concerns relating to the home but will skip insignificant or cosmetic items that don't impair the integrity of the home. They also do not do destructive testing. After the report, you should receive a written home inspection report that is concise and easy to understand.
  4. Home inspectors work for the party that is paying the fee. 
    Home inspectors are supposed to be unbiased third parties to the real estate transaction even while discharging their duties with integrity and fidelity to the client.  They shouldn’t conduct a home inspection or prepare a home inspection report for which their fee is contingent upon the conclusion in the report. They should maintain client confidentiality and keep all report findings private unless the client chooses to make the report public. 
  5. Some home inspection disputes can be decided with conflict resolution. 
    Some home inspection organizations offer conflict resolution. Keep in mind that inspectors are not a party to the sales transaction, so if you buy a home where an expensive problem surfaces after the sale, you won’t be able to get the inspector to pay for it. In fact, you may not be entitled to any compensation beyond the cost of the inspection. 

One thing you should not do when buying a home is skip having the home inspected because of undue pressure from the seller. Having the home inspected is reasonable and you should have every right to do so.