One of the most critical aspects of buying a home in Long Beach is the home inspection process. It’s during this step that the buyer (and seller) understands the true state of the property and can make intelligent decisions regarding what to do next.
The Home Inspection Process
As soon as a residential purchase agreement (RPA) is signed between the buyer and the seller, one of the first things the buyer’s real estate agent should do is order a home inspection. Without a doubt, the home inspector will be someone the real estate agent has worked with before and highly recommends. Multiple points go into having a good home inspector. Thoroughness is the first trait. Communication is the second and perhaps most important trait. Having an inspector who can speak plain english to the home buyer, letting them know what is truly important, what is something to think about versus items which are non-issues.
The home inspection process is also part of one of the contingencies that is listed in the RPA. If after the home inspection the buyer wishes to break the contract, they certainly can.
What exactly does the home inspection process entail? Literally the home inspector “inspects” every square inch of a house, from the top of the roof to crawling around in the crawl space underneath the house. The entire process typically takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on how big the house is. In addition, the inspector will check around the yard for other potential problems such as a fence around the property or a garage located on the premises. Any physical structure on the property will be something the inspector will check out.
Keep in mind that the inspector will not put themselves into danger to do an inspection. If they physically cannot access a space, they certainly won’t try to do it. If they are unable to access a space, they will note it in the final report that the home buyer receives.
The most important aspects of a home (the “bones”) are:
Roofing: Is the roof leaking? If so, where? Are there any potential spots where leaking could occur? Is flashing installed? Flashing is not some creepy dude with a trench coat in the park. Flashing refers to, typically, some kind of metal plate that is placed around vents, chimneys, skylights or corner spots on a roof that prevents rain water from seeping through the roof.
Electrical: Is it up to code? Is it knob-and-tube? Or is a hybrid of the two? You never know but your inspector certainly can tell you. Are the outlets in the bathroom or kitchen GFCI? GFCI: Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor. Simply put: this type of outlet prevents electrical shock (and electrocution) if you are in wet area such as a bathroom or a kitchen. They also inspect the circuit breaker for a house. If the circuit breaker is properly sheltered and houses from the elements, if it is located outside. Are there any signs of corrosion on the circuit breaker?
Plumbing: Is it copper or galvanized? Or a mix of both? Are there any fittings that are missing? What about the drains for the bathroom or kitchen? Do they function properly and are draining?
During one home inspection, the shower in the master bath did not drain at all. When we asked the seller’s about it, they stated that they simply never used the master bath shower in the 5 years they had lived in the house. That blew my mind! Oh well. To each his own.
Foundation: This is super important. All of the other areas of the house can be fixed with a small investment but a foundation must (I repeat MUST) be good. Repairs to the foundation can be very costly. Here’s an episode on my YouTube channel where we talk about a very costly foundation repair.
What else do you need to know about home inspections?
Home inspections typically run $300 to $400, depending on the size of the house. When you call to schedule an inspection, they will ask you about the size of the house in terms of square feet. The larger the home, the more expensive the inspection. If you’re thinking of a multi-family residence, the inspection will cost more than it would for a single family residence.
Swimming Pools aren’t covered by a normal home inspection and usually have an additional charge.
Home Inspection Reports are delivered within 2 to 3 days after the inspection. That’s why it is critical to order the inspection right away. It will take potentially 3 to 4 days to book the inspector (because they are busy) and then another 2 to 3 days to wait for the report. This is nearly 1 week into escrow, which is typically a 30 day process.
What comes next?
Based on the inspection report, the buyer usually submits a list of repairs to the seller. This is something that will be covered extensively in a future article.
Make sure to consult with your real estate agent with ordering a home inspector. How long have they been doing inspections? Are they certified? The report that you receive needs to be reviewed and understood in it’s entirety, making sure to note what can be requested as repairs and what the seller won’t fix. There is no such thing as a perfect house. Every house has it’s problems. Between your own gut and what your real estate agent is advising you, use this to make an informed decision about your greatest investment.
This article is part of our home buyer series. If you’d like to learn more, visit our Home Buyer Page.
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