I received a call this week from one of my prospective buyers who already had an accepted offer on a house he wished to purchase, and he was preparing for contract. As I assisted him in preparing his paperwork for the mortgage I was processing for him, I gave him a checklist of items that should be taken care of prior to signing the contract of sale.
After looking over the list, he pointed to Item 2: a home inspection. His immediate response was, “Why should I spend money on an engineer? Everything looks OK to me, and I would rather save the expense.”
Believe it or not, this response comes up very often when buyers are suddenly faced with all the expenses that go hand in hand with purchasing a home. It falls to me to explain to them that not having a professional home inspector (or engineer) inspect a house before purchasing it is like playing with fire.
A professional home inspection provides several important functions. First, by having the home inspected by a professional, you learn all the important ins and outs of the house, such as: How sound is the foundation? Are there any cracks, or problems that need immediate attention? How upgraded (or not) is the electric service? Does the house have sufficient electric power for all the appliances that are there or that you want to install? Is the electric wiring to code? (Always good to know, especially since certain types of old wiring are sometimes found to be a fire hazard.) Does the house have circuit breakers or fuses? (Admittedly, houses with fuse boxes are becoming fewer and fewer, but they are still around in older homes.)
What about the heating system? What type is it, and how is it fueled — with gas, oil, or electric? How old is it and is it in good shape? How efficient is it? What are the things you should know about maintaining this system in the future? Is there a separate hot water heater?
Incoming service lines, like electric, gas, water, etc., are not usually things people pay particular attention to, but they are important to check.
Does the water flow through the pipes and faucets the way it should, without leaks? How is the water pressure throughout the house? What about the sewer lines? What about the roof?
I have touched on just part of the list of items that a home inspector must check as part of a home inspection. Checking the house, though, is just one part of the inspection prior to purchasing a home.
Second, having the inspector thoroughly go through the entire house, inside and out, also educates you on how to continue maintaining your home.
Every home inspection should include a written report in book form, broken down in categories. This report is not just for checking on what needs to be addressed immediately in the house, either before or after the purchase, but should be retained and looked at from time to time over the years you own your home as a guide to the maintenance that may be needed in a year or five years or even 10 years from now.
As I explained to my new buyer, you are not saving money by not having a professional home inspection before you purchase; you are wasting money by being pennywise and pound foolish, since an inspection can save you a lot of money and aggravation by providing you with the knowledge of exactly what you are buying beyond the pretty flowers in the garden and the wood floors in the living room.
Do you have any questions or issues you would like me to discuss? Either email me or call me, and I’ll be happy to help.
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.