Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Home Buyers Working More Closely With Home Inspector

Is your home inspector a deal killer? I hope so, for your sake as a home buyer. But I doubt your real estate agent would agree.

A deal killer is a home inspector who reports everything found — everything — so you can make an informed decision about the house you are thinking of buying, and either negotiate a lower price with your eyes open or walk away from the deal.

Some real estate agents resent home inspectors who do "too good" a job. They feel that they have worked hard to present a home their buyers want to buy, or their clients want to sell. Then the home inspector screws up the deal.

Let's face it: If potential buyers are having an inspection done, they already love the house. If a home inspection reveals that minor fixes are necessary, then buyers will feel more confident paying the full price and won't walk away. But if it turns out that there is something more serious — and expensive — wrong that kills the deal, then real estate agents should be grateful for that information.

It will allow agent and client to either correct the problem before putting the house back on the market, or adjust the price so the cost of repair is reflected. No one wants to sell a home with hidden defects; that can lead to legal and insurance claims and damaged reputations.

Some buyers don't really want to believe the ugly truth about their dream homes. They'd prefer to stick their heads in the sand, and are receptive when an agent minimizes the problems.

But you need to listen to your home inspector, especially when he gives you bad news. Don't fall for a lipstick-and-mascara cover-up of a house that looks good but is rotten underneath.

Your home inspector isn't trying to scare you, he is educating you. And you need to listen.

A home inspection isn't just some game or a strategy to reduce the house price. This is your chance to learn about your home: what's good, what's bad, what needs repair now and what can wait a while.

In a seller's market, buyers often feel they have no time to wait for inspections. They might be in a bidding war and are afraid to lose. But what they should be afraid of is buying a house at an inflated price either without an inspection or not listening to what the inspector says.

But as the buyer, you need to take responsibility. Don't be rushed because your agent wants to close the deal or you think you'll lose your dream house in a bidding war. There are other houses. And if you don't slow down and check out the building before you purchase it, your dream home may end up a nightmare.

Pre-sale inspection

Sometimes a seller will have a pre-sale inspection done to make sure the house is up to standard, so that when it is evaluated by the buyer's home inspector it passes with flying colours.

This is not fluffing for sale or baking bread in the oven so the house smells good. This is real nuts-and-bolts stuff, solid information a seller can offer about what might need repair or improvement in the house.

Your home inspector can educate you about the deficiencies of your home, before potential buyers find them, so you can set a realistic price or fix the problems before you list the house.

Don't forget, most buyers of resale homes will want an inspection. They'll discover those deficiencies (if they have a good inspector, of course) and be able to use them as a bargaining tool to reduce the price.

New Home PDI

Many first-time buyers choose a new house, thinking it will be problem-free. They are afraid that a resale might present problems that must be repaired even before they unpack. The truth is, many new houses have all kinds of problems, big and small.

You shouldn't assume every new house is built properly. Many aren't. And if you move in and find problems, you'll need to take them up with the builder and the home warranty program.

How long do you have before the warranty is up on certain things in your new home?

Before buyers take possession of a home, they conduct a PDI (pre-delivery inspection) along with the builder. This is to make sure there is no outstanding work, and that any deficiencies are identified.

Many buyers do this on their own, but this is where it makes sense to hire a professional home inspector, with knowledge and experience in new-home PDI. Buyers might notice only the cosmetic problems, because they usually don't have technical construction knowledge and experience.

The problem is, some builders won't allow independent home inspectors to be present during the PDI. You have to wonder why. What are they trying to hide?

Do you think your builder's representative is going to disclose poor workmanship, building code violations or defects during your PDI? I doubt it.

If you haven't signed on with a builder yet, find one that allows a professional home inspector to accompany you on your PDI.

If it's too late and your house is being built, remember that until your new home changes hands, the builder still owns it.

Make sure you conduct an inspection as soon as you take possession, before it's too late to file a claim under the builder's warranty.

By: Mike Holmes
Globe and Mail; May 30, 2008

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