Buying a Home? Insist on an Inspection.

home inspectionsThere are a million-and-one details in purchasing real estate. If you’re in the market for a new home, don’t forget to include a home inspection on your list of priorities before you even think of signing a contract.

Home inspections are so important that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently began instructing lenders to urge all mortgage applicants, at first contact, to hire a licensed home inspector to evaluate desired properties.

HUD added a section on home inspections to its Single Family Housing Policy Handbook, and it also asked the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) to provide buyers with information about why they should get a home inspection along with information on radon-gas testing and other safety and health issues.

The ASHI offers a FAQ page on its website that explains the whys and hows of a thorough inspection.

A home inspection is different than an appraisal. An appraisal is for lenders, while home inspections are for buyers and sellers. An appraisal is intended to estimate the market value of a house; an inspection is an evaluation of a home’s condition by a trained expert.

The value of a home inspection may seem obvious for buyers, but sellers can benefit, too, by learning about potential trouble spots that could lower the sales price if not corrected.

During a home inspection, a qualified inspector takes an in-depth and impartial look at the property you plan to buy. The inspector will

  • Evaluate the physical condition of the home — the structure, construction, and mechanical systems
  • Identify things that need to be repaired or replaced
  • Estimate the remaining useful life of major systems — electrical, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning — and equipment, structure, and finishes.

“We are proud to provide critical inspection information for this handbook to help home buyers protect themselves,” ASHI Executive Director Frank Lesh said in a recent statement. “Owning a home is one of the biggest financial investments in a person’s life, and a home inspection can help prevent costly problems.”

The ASHI provides a Web page to help buyers and sellers locate licensed inspectors. The California Real Estate Inspection Association also offers a similar service and has four regional chapters in the Bay Area.

(Illustration: Flickr/Chris Potter)

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