(Nov. 23, 2018) You found the house of your dreams; you put an offer in, negotiate a price, and sign on the dotted line. Done, right? Not really. 

The home inspection process is another point of negotiation in a traditional contract.

Home inspections are a buyer’s expense and usually range from $250-$500, depending on the size of the home.  

The home inspection purpose, as stated on the addendum used in Maryland contracts, is to “discover significant and material defects or adverse or dangerous conditions, if any, of the components and systems of the property.”

The most common home inspection covers “structural and mechanical” and may include, but is not limited to: foundations and/or basement, floor systems, ceilings, doors, windows, roof, insulation, exterior and interior wall systems, decks, porches, garages, plumbing and electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, appliances, and mechanical equipment. 

A home inspection is a visual report, and therefore is limited by vegetation on the exterior or possessions inside the house that may block the inspector’s ability to gain access. 

The report is a snapshot in time, and it’s important to conduct final walk-through inspections immediately before closing to check the condition of the property.

Additional inspections a buyer may request in a contract are mold, chimney, lead and environmental. Many buyers request mold inspections, and this inspection is usually just visual unless the buyer specifically requests the company take air quality samples. 

In some cases, sellers may opt to pay for a home inspection prior to listing their home as a marketing tool. 

Having a seller-provided home inspection prior to listing identifies any major problems that could later scare off would-be bidders. However, the seller has to be prepared to make the repairs suggested on the report, but this can be cheaper for the seller to do outside of a negotiation with a buyer. 

From the buyer’s perspective though, the purchase of a home is usually the biggest financial investment of their life. So, accepting the home inspection provided by the sellers may not provide enough peace of mind, and buyers may opt to conduct their own inspection by a contractor of their choice. 

— Lauren Bunting is a licensed Associate Broker with Bunting Realty, Inc. in Berlin.

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