The advice I would give aspiring homebuyers about home inspections is that no home is perfect. Even new construction homes will uncover items that can be improved upon.
Don’t overreact to the little things and don’t under react to the big things. It’s very important to keep things in perspective. You don’t want to lose a good deal on a house over a 19.99 GFCI outlet. You also don’t want to pay top dollar for a house with a roof in clear need of replacement in the near future.
Leverage your Realtor. A good Realtor knows their market well and has a knack for feeling out the other party. They can sense when you can ask for a little more even though the other side isn’t letting on. They do this several times a year or even several times a week. Get their opinion. It’s better than you think.
When viewing homes a potential homebuyer should look at the overall condition of the home as pertaining to maintenance. Homes that have been maintained in general will have less issues uncovered during the Home Inspection.
High ticket items. There are a few items in the home that add up to a tremendous amount of money. Roof, Heating and Cooling are all items that wear out that can cost an enormous amount of money. While there is no way to predict when a furnace, air conditioner or hot water tank will die, it is very important to know the approximate age.
Generally speaking most roofs have a lifetime of 25-35 years. This can be longer if there are dimensional shingles present that sometimes have 45 year or even lifetime warranties (they’re usually prorated though).
HVAC components lifespans vary a little. Builder grade furnaces will look the same, have very similar efficiency ratings but generally cheaper parts and significantly shorter lifespans. If you are buying a 10-12 year old home you have to treat the furnace and AC a little differently. Generally speaking, with HVAC, once they are out of warranty all bets are off.
The most common mistakes I see homebuyers make is hiring the “Cheap Charlie” home inspector to save a buck. They need to understand proper training, tools, the expenses to run a proper inspection company is expensive and usually the cheap guys are cheap for a reason.
Shopping for an inspector on price alone. There are a lot of different options. I would be hesitant to hire someone on price alone be it the cheapest or most expensive. There are a lot of guys out there doing really cheap home inspections that check the minimum and get in and out. There are actually quite a few that are quite pricey that do the same.
When you are making a purchase as large as a home it is important that you hire someone who is competent and diligent. You want someone who you can do the job properly and pay attention to the details. The difference between the cheapest and most expensive guy in most markets is about $100.
The cost of hiring the wrong one can be measured in the tens of thousands of dollars.
I would tell all agents if I could we are not the enemy. We are not out to kill their deals and even when serious issues are uncovered a good inspector is there to help them with suggestive solutions and recommendations to rectify the issues.
Remember everything is fixable it is just a matter of having it fixed and figuring out how it will be payed for.