The Home Inspection Process - Buying Your First Home in Phoenix Arizona Part 5-
In Part 1 of Buying Your First Home, you discovered why buying a home is the right choice for you. In Part 2, we discussed how to hire the perfect agent. In Part 3, we learned why it is so imperative to get pre-approved for your loan BEFORE you go out shopping for your first home. After that, we shopped and made an offer! Once the offer is accepted, it's time for the home inspection.
A quality home inspection can literally save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs. A home inspection is designed to enable you to make a more informed decision about your potential first-home purchase. You should be able to walk away from the inspection clearly understanding any immediate major issues, and which items will need repair and/or maintenance soon.
Your real estate agent most likely works with a number of ASHI-certified (American Society of Home Inspectors) inspectors. It's a good idea to interview several inspectors to determine which one is best for you.
A home inspection is a visual inspection of a structure made by a trained, qualified professional who has experience in evaluating all the components on a house. A qualified home inspector is able to give a clear, accurate picture of these components' condition. It is important to remember that a home inspection is basically visual, with no intrusive drilling or digging involved. The house must be in the same condition (or better) after the inspection than it was beforehand.
A typical home inspection can be separated into three distinct parts:
• The Home Inspection - This is generally when you meet your home inspector and the actual evaluation of the property occurs. The inspection of a typical home usually takes from two to three hours, depending upon the size and condition of the home. Normally the buyer and his/her agent will meet with the inspector at the end of the inspection.
• The Report & Summaryy - The home inspector provides a report at the end of the inspection that summarizes the condition of the house, as well as informing you of any significant defects and their estimated repair costs.
• Post-Inspection Resource - A quality home inspector is also available following the inspection to clarify or answer any questions you may have about the inspection and report. This is part of the inspection, and you should not be charged an extra fee for this. An inspector can be an invaluable resource for you, long after you have moved into your new home. He can provide referrals for contractors, as well as advice and tips on home repairs. Most inspectors will not charge you for phone consultations; however, if you prefer a home visit, you should expect to pay a fee.
Consider optional testing
In addition to a general home inspection, optional testing - such as radon testing, lead paint tests, asbestos testing, etc. - is sometimes a good idea in specific areas. Most home inspectors should be able to coordinate any additional testing for you. These optional tests are rarely included in the inspector's standard fee, so be sure to ask about extra costs. If you think you are going to want additional tests, be sure to contact your home inspector in advance so he can prepare and coordinate the tests for you.
Obviously, walking through the house and speaking with your inspector one-on-one is the best option. However, many buyers are unable to be physically present for the inspection. There are several steps you can take to ensure you receive the information you need in an accurate, timely manner.
If you can't personally attend the home inspection, think about:
• Having a trusted friend or relative join the inspector at the home. Ask them to relay any specific questions or concerns directly to the inspector, and have them take notes for you. You can then follow up with your inspector by phone after completion of the inspection.
• Connecting with your inspector by phone following the inspection. That way, the inspection will be fresh in his mind, and he will be able to review his notes with you, summarizing any major issues, and describing in detail the areas that appear to need near-term maintenance. You will want to know of any potentially significant defects as soon as possible.
Should the seller be present at the home inspection?
Generally speaking, no. Some things work, and some things don't work. Having the seller present during an inspection is something that often does not work! A professional home inspection, by its very design, is intended to be thorough. Sellers can understandably become defensive because they feel their privacy is being invaded. Sometimes a Seller can even become angry if defects are found, or "do-it-yourself" renovations are noted. Remember, this is your inspection. This is the time for you and your inspector to carefully examine the house, so you must be able to freely discuss your discoveries without fear of hurting the seller's feelings.
Checklist of areas to be inspected
• Water problems
• Structural issues
• Safety devices Appliances
• Paved surfaces
• Exterior "shell"
After the inspection
- You should know the complete condition of the home you are purchasing, both positive and negative aspects.
- You should know which repairs are needed, as well as how important each one is and an estimate of how much they will cost, if possible. You should know the proper way to handle things if repairs are needed.
- You should know if any unsafe conditions have the potential to affect you and your family.
- You should expect a clearly written, easy-to-understand home inspection report. The report should clearly identify any potential significant defects that may affect your buying decision, and give you a realistic approximation of repair costs. It should also clearly identify any areas in need of upcoming repairs, or any components that are reaching the end of their useful lifespan.
- You should expect the home inspector to answer any questions you have about the report.
- You should expect the home inspector to be a resource for future questions you may have.
- You should NOT expect the home inspector to offer to repair or replace any defects noted in the inspection, even for a fee. This clear conflict of interest would tend to cast doubt on the home inspector's findings.
Other sources of information about your property
Multiple Listing Service (MLS): A listing is an agreement between the seller and the listing agent, who is authorized to submit information to the MLS. An MLS printout is similar to an ad and contains symbols, abbreviations, and details about the property (e.g., size, utilities, amenities, etc.). The MLS listing is not part of the purchase contract between buyer and seller. Information for the MLS listing is provided by the seller, builder, or government agencies and may or may not be accurate. All important details found on an MLS listing should be verified.
Public Report: The Public Report must be provided to a buyer by the developer of a new home subdivision. Its purpose is to itemize material information about the developer that a buyer might need to make an informed decision to purchase. It will contain information such as:
- Flooding and drainage disclosure
- A description of adjacent land and uses
- Providers of electricity, telephone, gas, water, and sewage disposal
- Common community and recreation facilities
- Assurances for completion of improvements
- Taxes and assessments
- HOA details
The Public Report is prepared by the seller/builder and could contain inaccuracies. All information should be verified.
Seller's Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS): Most sellers provide this fact sheet about their property to answer a variety of questions about the property and its condition. A buyer should carefully read over the SPDS, noting any statements of concern. According to the Arizona Department of Real Estate "Property Buyer's Checklist," buyers are advised to "read the seller's property disclosure report and check every item on it. Ask to see receipts for repairs to the home. Read the purchase contract carefully to determine if there are any deadlines for challenging the seller's disclosure report or for having your own inspections conducted."
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs): These are the governing documents that dictate how a homeowners association operates and what rules the owners - and their tenants and guests - must obey. These legal documents may also be called bylaws, the master deed, the houses rules, or another name. These documents and rules form a legally enforceable contract between the homeowners association and individual homeowners, unless a specific provision conflicts with federal, state or local laws. According to the Arizona Department of Real Estate "Property Buyer's Checklist," buyers are advised to "read the deed restrictions carefully. You might find some of the CC&Rs are very strict, especially those addressing landscaping, RV parking, play equipment, satellite antennas, and other common amenities - particularly if the subdivision is governed by a homeowner's association."
HOA Disclosures: With the purchase of a resale condo or home in a planned community, the seller (in a community of fewer than 50 unites) or the HOA (in a community of more 50 units or more) must provide the buyer with a document disclosing various information, such as the principal contact for the HOA, assessments, the amount of money held by the HOA as reserves, whether a statement is furnished by the HOA, and any records of alterations or repairs to the unit.
Title Report/Commitment: The escrow agent will provide the buyer with a title report or title commitment, which tells you the title insurance agent has approved the property for title insurance subject to certain conditions. These may include encumbrances, easements, or liens against the property. Be sure to review all listed documents.
Importance of Home Inspection:
I can't stress enough the importance of getting a home inspection. On occasion a first time home buyer doesn't want to spend the extra money for an inspection. And my answer to that - you can't afford NOT to spend the money! What happens if there are major issues and or repairs? Will you have enough money to cover thousands of dollars of repair, if not more? Most likely if you're like most first time home buyers you've saved up your money for the down payment and closing costs and have no cash left over. Right? Be sure to get a certified home inspection - you will be very glad you did in the long run.
Buying Your First Home in Phoenix Arizona Part 5
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
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