Selling, buying or just putting a house on the market may raise many questions. Can I get a good price? Are there any problems I should fix prior to listing my house? If I buy this house, will I encounter problems that may make me regret my decision?
The sale price of a house depends on many factors, including the market, location, size of the property, age of the house, condition of the structure, what appliances might be included in the sale and even how nicely the property and building were landscaped and decorated―just to name a few.
Having a qualified professional inspect your house prior to putting it on the market―or for prospective buyers, before closing on a sale―can help guide your decision. But many homeowners and prospective buyers are unsure what's included in a standard home inspection, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). A qualified home inspector will review these aspects of a property:
- Roof, attic and visible insulation
- Foundation, basement and structural components
- Walls, ceilings and floors
- Heating and central air conditioning systems
- Windows and doors
- Water fixtures and faucets
Nearly two out of three homeowners recently surveyed by ASHI reported they saved a lot of money as a result of having a home inspection during the selling/buying of a house. Sellers use inspections to help determine potential problems that can be repaired or replaced prior to listing―potentially getting them a higher sale price. And buyers use the inspections to determine if they want to invest in the property, or help negotiate for a better price that would include the repair and replacement of potential problems.
Not all home inspectors are certified and licensed. ASHI's "Find an Inspector" tool allows homeowners to locate an inspector in their area. Always check with your local inspector for a complete list of services provided.
"It's important for homeowners to do their homework before hiring an inspector," says Kurt Salomon, ASHI president. "Look for a home inspector certified through the ASHI Certified Inspector Program, which is the only home inspection association program approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies."
The following elements are not included in a standard home inspection:
- Septic system
- Electrical wiring and plumbing that is not readily accessible (for example, behind drywall or plaster)
- Water conditioning or softening system
- Swimming pool
- Backyard fences
- Lawn irrigation system
- Household appliances
- Compliance with local codes
- Appraisal to determine market value
Before hiring a home inspector, inquire about what is covered in the inspection and ask to see a sample report. Although some inspectors provide ancillary services, it may be necessary to consult a specialist for concerns that extend beyond a standard inspection. Often your inspector will help you make this determination.
Hiring a certified home inspector and having questions answered before putting your house up for sale―or before finalizing a purchase price―can not only help save money, but also allow you to go through the process with more peace of mind.