Buying or Selling a Home/When to do a home inspection?
We are selling our home as a "For Sale by Owner" and are unsure of all of the ins-and-outs of a few items. Specifically though, we are wondering when it is typical for a home inspection to be done by the buyer, who pays for this, and what is checked for in this inspection?
Thank you for your question.
Normally, a home is placed under contract with a due diligence period that follows for an agreed upon period of time. Depending upon the home and what kinds of inspections will take place, this period of time can range from 2 weeks to a month. During that time the Seller can continue to show the home to other prospective Buyers but will have to disclose that the home is under contract. There is a due diligence fee that is paid to the Sellers for the right to inspect the home and for the Sellers being unable to sell to others during that period. This is a non-refundable payment that is credited back to the Buyer at the successful closing of the home or property. If the Buyer does not close on the home, that fee is retained by the Sellers. Once the due diligence period is over, the Buyer and Seller close on the home and the Seller vacates the home at that time.
The Buyer pays for the home inspection and all other items of due diligence.
Once the contract price is agreed upon the inspection is scheduled immediately. When due diligence period is over and the home is scheduled to close; a few hours before closing, the Buyer can come by and check to make sure that the home is still in satisfactory condition and that nothing has been hidden behind furniture (such as a material defect). This is the usual procedure. There is just a quick check to make sure that there are no major problems perhaps brought on during the moving process. After that visual inspection is complete (and the Buyer is very welcome to ask the inspector to go back through with them to make sure) then the Buyer and Seller go to closing. If however, there is a problem (I once had a Buyer who was ready to close and when we did our pre-closing walk-through found that one of the floors had been damaged by the movers) then the Buyer can talk to his or her attorney at the closing to escrow an agreed upon amount of money to repair the home/damage. Once repaired, those funds can be released.
I would also like to point out that inspection items are mechanical items and structural items as well as environmental issues like the presence of mold or radon. An inspector will also check for safety issues and/or violations to the building code. These are repairs that can be negotiated with the Seller. The Seller has the right to refuse to make these repairs at which point the Buyer can either choose to continue with the purchase and make the repairs on his own later, or walk away thus canceling the contract and any obligations.
Small cosmetic items such as paint touch up or scratches, nail holes, grouting, or even stains in the carpet or worn carpet are not inspection repairs that will be noted in an inspection. Inspectors observe conditions that relate to the function of the home. They usually explain to the client that they will check for items to be functioning in the manner they were intended. If for example, a door doesn't close then it is not functioning as it was intended. If, however, the door is scratched, it is still functional and will not normally be noted as an inspection issue. If that same door has a big hole in it, then it is not functioning correctly because it cannot provide privacy, or protection from the elements. That IS an inspection issue.
Those things are usually taken into account when an offer is made. A Buyer will note the condition of the home. They know going in that this is not a new home and there will be a certain amount of work necessary. (The better the overall condition of the home; the better the offer.)
I strongly advise that your Buyer choose a certified and recommended home inspector. The inspector should not be someone who also does the repairs since there is a conflict of interest in that inspector. In addition the Buyer should choose a qualified real estate attorney who is active in the real estate community; and does multiple real estate transactions: someone local and someone who provides real estate law advice. There are many great attorneys in your area from whom the Buyer can choose. He/she can call a real estate office to ask for some suggestions or simply Google real estate attorneys in your area. (I usually provide my clients with two or three names of attorneys who are really good and who help the client understand the process.)
I hope that this helps clear things up and provide you with a good overview. If not, please feel free to write to me again.
Real Estate Broker