The home inspection is a great time to get to know the inner-workings of the house and make sure there aren’t any safety or material defects present. Your agent will attend, but the home inspector will take the lead. They will check everything from the microwave to the HVAC unit, which will take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on home size. Feel free to ask questions as you follow them through. They will also provide you with tips on basic home maintenance.

Keep in mind that unless it is new construction, you’re not purchasing a brand new home. Every home has been lived in, so every home will have at least some wear and tear. The inspector’s job is to take an overall look at the home, check everywhere that’s accessible to them, and provide you with the facts on what they find. It’s not their job to take apart the home (go behind walls, under floors, etc.), predict future maintenance items, or tell you what you should ask the sellers to repair.

The inspector will then prepare a report listing everything they saw. Typically they will group these items into “FYI,” “consider in the future,” and “important” categories. Your agent will review the report with you, and will likely recommend that you only ask from the “important” category. Cosmetic items like chipped paint, worn carpet, etc. should not be asked for. In general, the seller’s only obligation is to repair or replace, not to improve. 

When negotiating items, asking for things you truly can’t do yourself is reasonable. Keep in mind that the sellers are not likely to agree to do everything on your list, especially if the list is long.  So make sure the items you ask for are important to you. If it doesn’t affect the immediate function and livability of the home, consider if it is worth listing. Another option is to ask for a monetary credit instead of specific items. This allows you be in control of who you use for the work, and how and when the work is done, rather than leaving it in the seller’s hands. 

Posted on December 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm by Palmer Harned

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.