Mistakes Buyers Shouldn’t Make During the Home Inspection


1. Forgoing an inspection in the first place

Sure, most people know they should get an inspection on a home they’re buying from someone else. But Michael Marlow, Certified Master Inspector® and owner of Veteran Home Inspections in San Antonio, TX, finds that many buyers tend to skip an inspection when buying new construction. And that’s a mistake.

Another word of caution: Don’t skimp on extra inspections that might be needed for your specific property. Think: pools, septic systems, or wells, as well as other potential issues such as radon or lead that might fall outside of a normal home inspection.

2. Choosing the cheapest inspection option

There are a lot of inspectors who offer very low prices for home inspections, Marlow says, and that could indicate they’re new and inexperienced, or that they’re having trouble finding clients.

Of course, we’re not saying you should never opt for an affordable inspection, or that all affordable inspectors are dummies. But we are saying you should do your research before defaulting to the cheapest option.

It’s hard to know what kind of credentials you’re looking for unless, well, you’re in the home inspection biz. But there are some telltale signs. For example, you should probably avoid an inspector who doesn’t use the latest equipment (e.g., an inspector using chemical swabs rather than XRF technology on a lead paint test).

Your real estate agent should help point you to a competent professional, but you should also read online reviews before committing to an inspector.

3. Not being present for the inspection

Tempted to let the inspector just do her job and read the report later? Don’t do it. Even a detailed report with pictures is not the same as being present, he says.

An inspector must report on everything that’s found, no matter how minor. So hearing the inspector’s comments directly and being able to ask questions is extremely helpful in figuring out what items from the report are truly a concern.

Since an inspection can last three or more hours, Golden recommends at least being there at the end to go over the findings. If you absolutely can’t make it at all, have your agent attend to learn firsthand what the inspector has found.

4. Not making the rounds with the inspector

And while you’re there, don’t squander the opportunity to learn more about your home.

Buyers are welcome for any and all of the inspection as a chance to take a closer look at parts of the home you typically wouldn’t.

Spending your visit checking your email or choosing colors for your new living room while the inspector is working is a waste of time, he says.

5. Being overly involved in the inspection

On the other hand, it’s possible to be too present at an inspection.

It’s great to follow the inspector around to see what he finds, but if you’re in his way or spend too much time chatting him up, you may distract him from the work at hand and he could miss something.

And don’t try to do the inspector’s job, either. It can be frustrating when a buyer is testing water flow or appliances while the inspector is working.

If a buyer is operating a sink in the kitchen while the inspector is testing the shower in the master bathroom, it can alter the system response.

6. Expecting a perfect report—and overreacting if it’s not

An inspection is not a pass-fail test, and every home will have flaws. In fact, don’t be surprised if the inspection uncovers as many as 50 to 100 “deficiencies. Many of these may be relatively minor.

Buyers who are unprepared for the depth and breadth of an inspection are often taken aback, and it can sour them on the home when many of these blemishes are to be expected.

The key is to ask questions so you understand the magnitude of each issue discovered. Then you can separate “nice-to-repair” items from “must-repair” defects.

7. Focusing on the wrong things

As we noted above, not all infractions are equal. Remember that an inspection is the chance to find out about significant red flags with the property (e.g., issues with the roof, foundation, HVAC systems, or other costly problems).

Those faults are what you want to focus on when negotiating with the sellers, not nickel-and-diming them for every little thing the inspector reports.

An inspection is not the time to worry about small details like a cracked electrical outlet cover. I’ve seen sellers back out of contracts when buyers give them a laundry list of minor things that could have been fixed with a trip to the hardware store.

Sellers will be more receptive if they’re presented with a reasonable list of demands, so do a little homework on estimated repair costs to help you decide what’s worth mentioning.

8. Not getting negotiated repairs reinspected

Once the negotiated repairs have been completed, it’s wise to get a final signoff from your home inspector—even if there’s an additional cost.

Following up with a reinspection will give you peace of mind—and really, isn’t that the point of the inspection in the first place?


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