Find a balance
Like Goldilocks, you want an inspector that’s not too loose or too picky but just right. I have seen one deal blow up because of an overly picky inspector who found a long list of piddling little problems, most of which were not important. But the buyer didn’t know and the seller was so mad, he refused to fix anything. Who won there? No one.
So find an inspector who has a good balance. While most states do not license or regulate home inspectors, I think it’s reasonable that your inspector have enough pride in his profession that he would be a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors or a similar organization.
It is also important to understand what he is not. He is not a roofing contractor and in fact, he does not really have the special experience of a licensed contractor who might know about special items. That does not mean he can’t do a good job, but you must be aware of his limitations and the scope of his inspection.
Check out Think You’re Ready to Buy a Home? for more home-buying tips.
I also think it is good to be present at the property when the inspector pays a visit. You can follow him around and ask questions. That way, when you see the finished report, you know the facts of what went into a finding.
When you get the inspection report, you can go over it and decide if there is anything that you want to see fixed. Maybe everything is minor, certainly it would be if he seller had properly maintained the home. If there are things you want fixed, you can make a list and go over it with your agent.
IMPORTANT NOTE: this is YOUR report and no one else needs to see it. That includes your agent, unless you choose to disclose it. It’s YOUR business to check it out and decide what you want to request that the seller fix. In many areas it is customary to attach the report to the Request for Repair form, but I wouldn’t do it.
Under no circumstance should you show it to a lender. It’s none of their business. The appraiser is supposed to call attention to items of significance. I had a transaction where both agents got the report and, sadly, the listing agent mistakenly gave it to the appraiser. That was a mistake as the report was definitely not HIS business. He’s supposed to do his own inspection. The appraiser incorporated in the appraisal report and all of a sudden the lender wanted a licensed contractor to check things out. This stupidity almost blew the deal.
I also recommend a Saturday morning visit to the block. You can see what is going on without anyone else in tow. Perhaps you can see something odd that the agent didn’t know about, like an amateur trumpeter practicing all morning. You can also introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Most of the time you will find this fun, but you also might find out, as one of my clients did, that the area was a hotbed of auto burglaries. You just want to find out and make your own decision.
In summary, the buyer’s inspection is an important part of making your purchase transaction work out with no surprises, except happy ones.