The home inspection takes place after you have an accepted offer, but before you sign contracts. Most likely, the inspection will turn up some issues, since inspections always do. If the inspection turns up serious issues, we recommend you have your attorney resolve any problems in the contract of sale.
After you have an accepted offer, your buyer will almost certainly require a home inspection before signing contracts. In other parts of the country, the home inspection takes place after contracts are signed, and the contracts contain a contingency allowing for cancelation if the report finds serious problems. In our area, though, the buyers do inspections before they commit to purchasing the home.
If the inspection turns up serious issues, the buyers might simply accept them, ask you to remedy them, ask for a reduction in the price, or actually walk away from the deal. Very few deals actually fall apart from inspections, even though virtually every inspection report identifies at least some problems in the home.
Some of the common problematic issues that home inspectors come across involve:
•roof damage caused by old or damaged tiles or improper flashing;
•undersized electrical wiring involving insufficient electrical service, aluminum wiring, improper grounding, and dangerous conditions, usually resulting from inadequate “do-it-yourself” electrical maintenance;
•surface grading and drainage, which can lead to cracked slabs and water leakage into a basement;
•heating systems that are in need of replacement or repair;
•plumbing problems caused by faulty fixtures and waste lines, improperly mounted hot water heaters, or degrading piping materials;
•lack of insulation from poor caulking of windows that causes water and air penetration; and
•mold and mildew in wet areas of the home.
You should be prepared for the fact that the home inspector will find something to write up about your home. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything really wrong, it’s just that the engineers always find something. It’s almost as if they’re afraid that if they don’t find anything, the buyers will suspect that they spent their time at the home sitting back and watching soap operas. So they’re going to issue a report that sounds scary but contains the kind of “defects” found in virtually every home.
That said, if the inspection does turn up something serious enough to require remediation, we strongly recommend that you make an adjustment in the price to allow for remediation. We do not recommend you try to address the problem yourself, or even hire someone to do it. We have seen too many cases of buyers and sellers ending up at odds over the buyer’s contention that the seller’s remediation efforts were insufficient, and the sellers end up paying to fix the problem, then taking a reduction in the price at closing anyway or getting sued after closing. You are better off obtaining an estimate on fixing the problem, getting the buyer to agree to the estimate, and working that into the price of the home.