Information for first time home buyer
Buying a home is one of the most important purchases you will make in your lifetime, so you should be sure that the home you want to buy is in good condition. A home inspection is an evaluation of a home’s condition by a trained expert. 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: the structure, construction and mechanical systems.
- Identify items that should be repaired or replaced.
- Estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems (such as electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning), equipment, structure and finishes.
- After the inspection is complete, you will receive a written report of the findings from the home inspector, usually within 1-2 days.
- See why you should have a home inspection.
Home Inspections Are Not Appraisals
A property appraisal is a document that provides an estimate of a property’s market value. Lenders require appraisals on properties prior to loan approval to ensure that the mortgage loan amount is not more than the value of the property. Appraisals are for lenders; home inspections are for buyers.
FHA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), requires lenders to obtain appraisals of properties securing FHA-insured loans.
FHA requires appraisals for three reasons:
- To estimate the market value of the property.
- To make sure that the property meets FHA minimum property requirements/standards (health and safety).
- To make sure that the property is marketable.
- The FHA appraisal process will note property deficiencies that are readily observable and found not in compliance with HUD’s minimum property requirements/standards (Handbook 4905.1 REV-1 and Handbook 4910.1). These deficiencies may not be the same as those items noted in a home inspection report.
The Bottom Line: Spending Hundreds May Save Thousands
When you make a written offer on a home, you should insist that the contract state that the offer is contingent on a home inspection conducted by a qualified inspector. You will have to pay for the inspection yourself, but it could keep you from buying a house that will cost you far more in repairs down the road. If you are satisfied with the results of the inspection, then your offer can proceed.
Finding a Qualified Home Inspector
As the homebuyer, it is your responsibility to carefully select a qualified inspector and pay for the inspection.
The following sources may help you find a qualified home inspector:
- Your real estate agent. Most real estate professionals have a list of home inspectors they recommend.
- State regulatory authorities. Some states require licensing of home inspectors.
- Professional organizations. Professional organizations may require home inspectors to pass tests and meet minimum qualifications before becoming a member.
- Phone book yellow pages. Look under “Building Inspection Service” or “Home Inspection Service.”
- The Internet. Search for “Building Inspection Service” or “Home Inspection Service.”