A home inspection is a thorough visual examination of the home and property. Many mortgage companies insist on a home inspection report before agreeing to a mortgage, so a pre-sale inspection enables you to address problems before you even put the house on the market. It also removes any questions about the condition of your home for you and a potential homebuyer, improving the speed, price and likelihood of a sale.
The inspection process usually takes two to three hours, during which time the house is examined from the ground up. It includes observation and, when appropriate, operation of the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and appliance systems, as well as structural components, such as the roof, foundation, basement, exterior and interior walls, chimney, doors and windows.
Some home sellers elect not to correct every defect found in the inspection report. Instead, they acknowledge the defects to buyers and explain that the asking price has been adjusted to reflect the estimated cost of repairs. Such candor tends to shorten negotiation time, because buyers have fewer objections.
In addition to facilitating the sale of a home, an inspection helps the homeowner comply with full-disclosure real estate laws, governed by state laws. By focusing on the condition of your property, you are less likely to overlook a defect or material fact for which you could later be held liable.
A thorough home inspection covers more than 1,000 items, everything from the foundation to roof and takes two to three hours depending on the size of the property. The report should reflect the condition of about 400 items.
TIP: Home inspections are for buyers; appraisals are for lenders. Lenders require appraisals on properties prior to loan approval to ensure that the mortgage loan amount is not more than the value of the property.