Do not hire a home inspector. Hire a plumber, an HVAC guy, a roofer, an
electrician, and a pest specialist. You can walk aroung and look at paint
and everything else. HAve these pros give you a buyers inspection. These
people have been doing this for a while and know what to really look for.
"Do not hire a home inspector. Hire a plumber, an HVAC guy, a roofer,
electrician, and a pest specialist. You can walk aroung and look at
and everything else."
That's an interesting idea. Besides costing many times what a home
inspector would cost, who's going to give opinions on issues like the
foundation, possible non-existant or too short railings on decks/stairs
that are required by code, attic insulation/ventilation, moisture
problems, mis-routed bathroom vents, driveway pavement, drainage, the
list goes on. And even the ones here that can be seen are not going to
be obvious to a newbie homebuyer like the OP.
On Mon, 07 Feb 2005 22:03:35 -0500, Stephen Huckaby
You've had some good advise, as well as another kind of advise...
There is no substitute for first hand knowledge and experience. Home
inspectors are usually quite good at reading the "moron meters" that
you poke into all the outlets to test for polarity, and if they got a
good meter it will even properly test those fancy outlets found in wet
areas of your home. Assuming the inspector knows how to understand and
interpret the results the "moron meter" gives him or her...
Inspectors. I'm sure there are some good ones out there simply because
the law of averages demands that not all of them are incompetent. Some
of them have to be worth their fee. Unfortunately, if that inspector
was really any good at plumbing, hvac, electrical, roofing, structural
engineering, framing, drywall, etc., etc., etc., then wouldn't that
individual be better off making more money in that particular trade
than in performing inspections?
In our neck of the woods all you have to do to be a home inspector is
pass a state mandated test and show some minimum number of hours of
coursework. You don't have to have any first-hand knowledge or
experience about what goes into building and/or maintaining a home.
That being said, if you can find a good inspector, one who works well
for his fee, one who knows what to look for and what constitutes real
concerns, then you would do quite well to hire him to look over your
potential purchase and give you his considered, expert opinion. If, on
the other hand all you can find are home inspecting hacks, then forget
the home inspector and see if you can get real professionals out to
look things over-something you ought to do if a good home inspection
report uncovers any major problems just so you can, at the same time,
get estimates for how much those problems would cost to fix. This
increases your negotiating position.
Under no circumstances should you have the current owner perform any
of the repairs. The current owner has an incentive to cut costs at
that point, which runs counter to your interests. Negotiate a lower
price and pay for the repairs yourself or have the seller place the
repair funds in escrow, to be paid out to the contractor(s) when the
repairs are performed and payment is due.
Home inspectors. A few are good. A very few. Considering that even a
good home inspection can't look at the framing, can't look at all the
wiring, can't check out all the plumbing, etc. simply because all
those systems are covered up except at their access points (meters,
electrical boxes, switches and plugs, toilets, sinks, tubs, etc.) and
they don't have the specialized knowledge of the professionals in
those fields...well, lets just say the report is an opinion of a
moderately educated individual, which you can and should become
yourself if you want to make wise purchasing decisions.
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
I've been following this thread with some interest- I do home
inspections, as well as other kinds- There are two of us in our
office who do them, we are both ASHI certified, as well as being ICC
certified as Housing and Property Maintenance, Residential Building,
Residential Electrical, Residential Plumbing and Residential
MechanicaInspectors- I am also certified by the ICC as a Certified
Building Official, a Certified Building Code Official, A Certified
Plans Examiner, a Certified Housing Code Official and a Commercial
Building Inspector- You can get a good home inspector if you look
around and check qualifications! I never get involved in price
negotiations, my job is to make sure the buyer knows everything they
should know about the investment they are considering making- Their
final decision is completely up to them, I just try to make sure it's
an informed decision!
He has the choice of cutting his rice or walking away. Sounds like he is
ready to just say "no" to lower offers. Maybe. You just never know.
That is what a home insector should do. There are both good and bad
inspectors. Some will miss things, others will do a superb job.
Te answer lies with your deisre to own that particular house. Real estate is
vauled at what people are willing to pay. If the base price of a house is
$200,000 three people can look at it and walk away with three idfferent
ideas. One will try to buy it lower because he things it is good practice.
Another may be willing to pay the asking price but expects the house to be
in good condition. The third may think the house is severely underprice,
knows it the location he always dreamed of, and is willing to pay for
$20,000 in repairs just to have it. The deciding factor is your willingness
to pay the asked price, and the lender's willingness to finance it for you.
They usually want an apraisal to be sure they won't have a loss if you run
off to a South Sea island.
You have to decide what your pain tolerance is on something like that. Is
renovation something you enjoy doing, or a chore to be avoided. If you have
serios concerns after seeing the report, just move on to another house.
Excellent advice to which I would add the following:
1. Sometimes all those zeroes in the price can take your attention away
from the reality of the transaction, so pretend you're dickering on a
used car. How would you respond to a vendor who said the price was
firm and a mechanics report wouldn't change it? How much would you
drop your offer for a toasted engine, bad transmission, bald tires etc. Is
a "must have" '57 Belair or a '98 Corolla?
2. It might be worthwhile to get a realtor to help in your first home
purchase. This is what they do and a good one can be invaluable.
I think they're overpaid but I've used them for several transactions
and I don't regret it. A good realtor knows the answers to all those
niggling questions, should know a good home inspector and can tell
you what similar homes have been selling for in the area. It might
be worth the peace of mind, and 2 or 3%, or whatever the going rate
is in your area, to have a professional smooth your first purchase.
Brian, in Cedar
On Mon, 07 Feb 2005 22:03:35 -0500, Stephen Huckaby
You're doing fine so far, Stephen. You've talked with a mortgage
broker and you're looking towards hiring an inspector.
Your mortgage broker probably can recommend an inspector, and can
also comment on price. (He should be able to tell you the value of the
last few comparable sales ... and of course, there will be an
appraisal as part of the financing.)
Real estate is one of the few reasonably free markets left. A house
is worth whatever the market will bear. And the market is different
in every town.
Any offer you make should be subject to financing and inspection.
The clauses should state they are for your exclusive benefit.
Have a lawyer draw it for you, don't use the forms from stationary
As to the conversations with the seller, the test is more than what
he is willing to accept, the test is also what you are willing to
pay. That would be guided by what else you can buy for the same
(Example: The seller wants $200 thousand. There is $17,500 worth
of work required over the next four or five years. What else can you
buy for $217,500?)
As an aside, I buy and sell a lot of homes. My experience is that a
FSBO (For Sale By Owner) quite often means one of two things: 1)
the owner is in a desperate situation and needs every nickel he can
get (big pressure to sell) or 2) the owner wants to get a price so
ridiculously high that no realtor would touch it. In the first
case, you have tremendous bargaining power; in the second case, you
should run, not walk. As I said, not always but quite often.
Listen for the negation. The longer and louder a seller insists he
won't take less, the more likely it is that he will.
As a further aside, don't be afraid of paying a little too much
(particularly in a rising market) if the location and floor plan are
both excellent. Those are the two things that will hold value over
And as a final aside, have you looked at other homes with a realtor?
Do you have a solid idea of what homes are worth in your city, your
personally, i wouldnt get a recommendation for an inspector from ANYONE
involved in the transaction with me that stands to make money when i buy a
house. the broker, the agents, they all have their own adjenda.
if you must, check their references thouroughly.
I think you've figured out by now that you should have an
inspector, and there should be an inspection contingency in your
contract that will allow you to walk away with your deposit
refunded if you aren't satisfied with the report. At your option,
that can include the seller having to fix everything, both major
So what you're really asking is how to negotiate with the seller
once you've seen the inspection report.
The most critical thing is to know what the house is worth. You
should have looked at all the sales of comparable houses in the
neighborhood in the last nine months. If you're getting a good
deal, you can eat a lot of repair costs. If you're paying at or
above the market, the seller should have to eat the repair costs.
Or better, give you a repair allowance or lower the selling price.
If you have a choice, you always want to do the fixes yourself or
have your contractor do them. If the seller does them, he or she
will spend the absolute minimum necessary. Faucet broken? What's
the cheapest one at the local home center?
If the seller is irrational or has expectations that are way too
high, he or she won't negotiate. At that point, it's up to you to
decide how badly you want that house.
I'm uncomfortable about you buying your first house without
professional advice. Perhaps you can find a buyer's agent who will
work for you for a set fee since you already have the house picked
out. If you're paying $5000 too much for the house, a $500 or
$1000 fee won't seem like much. If you lose your deposit, you may
lose a whole lot more than you'd spend for a professional.
To reply by e-mail, remove the obvious word from the e-mail address
On the other hand....
...I know someone who never took that plunge. Partly from fear that they'd not
do this house-buying thing exactly right, and might have a septic problem for
example (maybe 10K), or gosh forbid, pay too much (that 5K you're talking
And has lost out over the past five years of the on-average 50-80% increase in
home sales prices over that time (well over 100K).
I took the plunge eleven years ago, new to town, in a very down market (largest
company in area had just laid off tens of thousands), and bought a house in a
great location, knowing about a possible septic problem (only needed new tank),
some possible water problems (3K for BDry). (All clay soil around here, damn
near every house I looked at had something..)
I've seen a 150% to possibly 200% increase in the value of the house and
property. (Yes, that's twice to three times as much.)
How this applies to the OP's situation depends on the particulars of course.
My only concern is termites and maybe mold. So I'd get a termite
inspection from a termite company with termite insurance. Not sure
who I trust to do a mold inspection though.
If those come back clean then I'd buy the house and live with the
Get a reputable realtor and also have inspection done. You don't have to
deal directly to the seller, realtor's job that is to negotiate on your
behalf. Remember there are crooks everywhere. Seller, realtor, even
House buying is chain of negotiations and conditions.
Remember, most important on house buying is the location, location,
location of the house.
Typically bid contracts include a clause that says if an inspection
discovers repairs that exceed some amount (say $2,000), then you are no
longer obligated. In other words, if the buyer is willing to fix those
problems that add up to less than $2,000, you still have to buy the house.
If the buyer is not willing to fix those problems, or the problems add up to
more than $2,000 even if the buyer is willing, then you can legally walk.
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