The home inspection has never been more important! In the State of Arizona, most of our real Estate Rules and Regulations are written with the mindset that the Buyer doesn’t know what they are buying, so they are given every opportunity to find out. You can still navigate your way through, both as a buyer and a seller. Here is what to expect when you inspect:
First of all, consider the purpose behind a home inspection. In essence, a neutral third party is there to objectively report on the condition of a piece of real estate. This is to protect everybody in the transaction, not just the buyer or just the seller. When everyone is properly informed about all aspects of the deal, no one comes back after the fact with a lawsuit saying they were misled.
There are some true professional inspectors out there who are serious and who take the time and expend the effort to become truly trained in their craft. Also there are many, many hacks out there who hoped home inspecting would be easy and don’t even understand that caulking is not a way to secure plumbing fixtures. When you choose an inspector, find out all you can about their qualifications, memberships, and what trade groups a given inspection company does or does not belong to. An example of a trade group is the American Society of Home Inspectors, or ASHI. Credentials are important, so put forth some effort to make sure you know what credentials can and should be held by an inspector in your area.
Remember that the home inspector can be held liable for everything reported in writing; therefore a good one will never provide opinions, they will simply observe. Ironically, it is common for a seller to put a lot of time and effort into making the home attractive to prospective buyers, and to completely forget that the inspector needs to see the home too. This can result in some negative observations on a home inspection report, most of which could have been easily avoided. Something as simple as a burned out light bulb will result in a light fixture being observed as “inoperative;” a soiled A/C intake filter can get the entire HVAC tagged as “poor condition.” It is not the inspector’s job to troubleshoot, and certainly not to fix anything.
Common items written up on a report are:
- Inoperative Lights.
- Dirty Air Filters.
- Damaged or missing window screens.
- Broken lift tubes on windows.
- No air gap or high loop at the dishwasher.
- No anti-tip brackets at the stove/range.
- Door latches/locks need repair or doors needing adjustment.
- GFCI outlets missing from or inoperative at required locations.
- Corrosion at connections above water heater and/or at the valve.
- Loose toilet tanks or bowls needing repair.
- Broken, cracked or misplaced roof tiles.
- Plumbing vents installed improperly.
- Roof valleys are full of debris.
- Main isolation gate valve at plumbing service is inoperative.
- Plumbing cross connection at the sprinkler supply line.
- Water stains, damage or rot under eaves.
- Multiple wires connected to a single breaker in panel.
- Vegetation or trees next to the foundation or wall or tree branches making contact with roof which need to be trimmed.
- Leaking hose bibs or no check valves at hose bibs.
As an agent, I recommend to my sellers that they go over this list before they even list a property; these items come up often, and they are simple and inexpensive to avoid.
To prepare for the inspection, there are a few things a seller should plan on:
- Get everything of great financial or sentimental value out of the way. It prevents accidents.
- Expect the inspection to take 2-4 hours for an average size home.
- Have all of the appliances accessible; the dishwasher, stove, and oven will all need to be turned on.
- Provide access to the furnace, water heater and electrical panel. Also, the inspector must be able to remove the electrical panel cover. (remove any locks on panels and control boxes).
- Ensure that windows & coverings are accessible & operate smoothly. If some are stuck or painted shut, the impression will be that many windows have problems.
- Clear the way to the attic access panel or pull down, especially in a closet. The inspector should enter every crawl space.
- Be sure that there is a minimum of one smoke detector per floor.
- Provide keys to or at least unlock sheds and outbuildings.
- Verify all utilities will be on at the time of inspection, including gas.
Always get an inspection on a property you intend to buy, even if the home is being sold “as is.”
There are some bigger and more significant items that can turn up on a report; things like bad appliances, bad roofs, or termites. Uncovering and disclosing such things is good for everyone. Although they can be expensive to repair, they are not necessarily deal breakers. Sometimes a seller will drop their price to cover the cost of the repairs. Sometimes the Title and Escrow company can hold back cash to guarantee payment for a vendor who is actually doing the repairs. And sometimes the buyers decide that the issue is serious enough that they decide against going through with the purchase. No matter what happens, it truly is for the best in the end.
Although there are more facets to the inspection then there used to be, and sometimes people are simply tempted to skip the whole thing, please realize that an independent inspection is one of the most important safeguards there are for ALL of the people in a real estate transaction. Always inspect.
If you have any questions, please let us know! A big part of our job is to protect the interests of everyone and mange liability, and we can certainly direct you to where you need to be if you want to buy or sell a home in Phoenix Arizona.