Understanding the Inspection Period of a Home Sale

Every single home sale I am involved in the Inspection period is daunting to me, whether I am the buyers agent or the listing agent it is a process that I see as overwhelming and difficult for all parties.  Buyer and seller have finally worked hard to agree on a price and terms and now we have this huge grey area for a bunch of different people to interpret and some how renegotiate the final sale.  I don’t care if its a new home that the builder just received a certificate of occupancy or a 100 year old farm house listing, they are all the same and all have the potential for wonderful or terrible outcomes.    Fortunately we have some very talented inspectors and agents that take the time to back everyone off a ledge or identify what could be a catastrophe down the road.  Below are a few tips for navigating the post agreement/inspection period.

  1. No home is perfect– Homes are huge and from day one start out with problems that are sometimes avoidable.  When you are having a home inspected, you must assume that the last inspector had a different opinion or the builders build to their own standards.  But there will be discrepancies between a perfect home and the home you are buying.  Go into an inspection period knowing that something you never saw while living there caught your attention or was a problem but an inspection may discover it and draw the attention of a buyer.   Also understand that the home you love may have flaws that nobody knew about and until someone went poking around they remained unnoticed.
  2. You are not looking for a way out– I never understand this part.  Somebody loves a house so much they make an offer and come to terms with a happy seller.  Then 2 weeks later send over a laundry list of everything that could be wrong with the house including petty things that were visible while walking through or typical for that age of home.  Every home is going to need work but suddenly asking a seller to remedy each and every discovered repair is silly.  When making an offer on a home I always explain to buyers that major defects are important but cosmetic and regular repairs typically become a buyers problem.  When buying a used home expect to take on much of the regular repairs as the next homeowner and prepare yourself for other things to go wrong but that is why you are buying the house, because you love it and are willing to take on some risk to have it.
  3. They have to ask– I am regularly shocked the first time a see an inspection report whether its for the buyer or to share with the sellers and the list of demands can be nuts.  I always really read the report to make sure I am understanding the big picture before it gets passed onto the client, but as a client you need to take a deep breathe as well.  The inspector’s job is to find out about the house good or bad and share that information with us.  Just because they found 27 missing faceplates, doesn’t mean the house is falling down and just because the buyer asked you to replace all 27 missing faceplates, doesn’t mean they don’t want your house.   I like to giggle at reports but in the end buyers and sellers need to decide what they are willing to live with and what they are willing to lose a deal over as they respond to a report.
  4. Fix Stuff– I am readily blown away how reluctant some people are to using a screwdriver or paintbrush.  And if they don’t want to do it pick up the phone.  Once you have an inspection response in hand or as you live in a house, fix stuff.  Before you list walk around with a screwdriver and tighten that door that has wiggled since you bought the home or replace the missing downspout thingy that bothers everyone.  Lowe’s is built around homeowners having a bunch of little projects and they have all the stuff you need to just get stuff done.  I am not saying you should do electrical or plumbing but if a drainpipe is leaky from a lose connection, maybe take your hand and try to tighten it.  The reason I tell people to do this is to remove as many little things and red flags from an inspection report.  If you have had an inspection already done and you ignored it that’s on you but that report is a gift from God as things that every other inspector is going to share with their buyer.  As a buyer, I suggest going in with the same idea.  Know that the day after closing you should probably change filters, repair some fencing or clean out gutters.  This is just home ownership and if you are going to ask a seller to do every little thing you are probably not ready to own a house.

The inspection process to me makes very little sense as a buyer but its the way we determine the performance of a home before its sold.  Major items can many times be detected and are great cause for running away before you end up with a maintenance nightmare but its also just a good way for buyers to know what they are getting into and making the right decision.  As a buyer or a seller the inspection period should never be a “gotcha” intent but instead a process to ensure your gut that the home is in good shape and been well taken care of for the next user.  Before you ever react to an inspection be sure to consult someone that has been through the process and take a deep breath because I promise you it gets worse.  Buying and selling a home is  a huge deal and the inspection process is a very stressful time period, but if you surround yourself with good people and look at the big picture, its just one small step to a great sale.

-curt

Curt has been in the Indianapolis Real Estate business for over 10 years and spent his first years learning all aspects of commercial management and brokerage.  He has had great success in managing existing commercial projects and new retail and office developments.  Curt specializes in building owner representation and purchases in the Westfield Indiana market as well throughout the Indianapolis Metro area.  Curt is passionate about growing the local Westfield community and in his free time  volunteers with Westfield Youth Assistance and raising 2 children with his wife Jennifer.