Monday, February 13, 2017 / by Kevin Schumacher
This morning I read an article titled, "First Comes Love... Then Comes Mortgage," and it got me thinking. When you purchase your home it is an exciting process to find the home that turns your stomach inside out and truly feels right-then you go under contract. There are so many emotions that are involved in purchasing the home of your dreams, but a contract can vary in many ways and your warm loving feeling can turn to confusion if you do not understand the inspection process.
The National Association of REALTORS® released their Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers for 2016 and it is no surprise that married millennials still make up the largest portion of first time home buyers with Single Female Millennials making up the second largest group of buyers. It is important for first time buyers to understand the ins and outs of their closing contract.
Once your offer has been accepted by a seller you are not out of the woods yet. This is where your love can turn to frustration and possibly a contract termination if you do not understand the real estate buying process.
In a real estate contract there are several crucial deadlines that must be met in order for your contract to be fulfilled. The first of these deadlines is your earnest money deadline. This is simply a "down deposit" that you place to show sellers that you are so in love with their house that you are willing to put money at risk as proof that you are a serious buyer. This gesture only adds to the excitement as you have made your initial financial commitment on your home.
Now comes the inspection. A lot of home-buyers do not realize is it so important and one of the top reasons a contract may fall out.
Home Inspectors and Home Inspections
An inspection on a home can cost anywhere form $300-$500 depending on the size of the home and who you choose as your inspector. More qualified and reputable inspectors generally come at a premium cost. Using a well versed inspector will be in your best interest considering how easy it is to become an inspector. Anyone can start their own inspection business and be inside homes within a week so make sure that you are using someone who comes with a great track record. Your real estate agent should be able to recommend an inspector that they use as a trusted referral partner.
Inspections are not mandatory; however, they are recommended. It is in your best interest as a buyer to protect yourself in determining if your investment is truly a good investment before you inherit a house full of problems.
Why is an inspection needed?
- Even in new homes, there could be structural defects. Builder Warranties primarily are designed to protect the builder and not the buyers
- Problems may be hidden in hard to reach/see places
- Surprises after closing can be costly and cause buyers remorse
- Provides peace of mind that you've made a smart investment
- Provides understanding of your new home and brings to light any fixes that could need attention at a later time
What a home inspection is not:
- An appraisal of the homes value
- A building code inspection
- A pass or fail grade
What you can expect to be included in an inspection:
- A visual evaluation of the property including:
- Interior visible plumbing; corrosion, active leaks, risk with carious types of materials
- Water heater; age, corrosion, active leaks, venting, TPR valve and piping
- Electrical system; interior of panel(s), outlets, lights, switches, GFCI, AFCI
- Heating/Cooling; furnace (boiler), thermostat, visible ducts, registers
- Foundation/visual structure; cracking, leaning, past repairs
- Basement/crawl space; moisture, finish if remodeled
- Roof; general condition, evidence of leaks or damage
- Attic; moisture, condition of framing
- Ventilation; crawl space, roof
- Insulation; type and thickness
- Interior walls/ceiling/floors; damage, patching, moisture damage
- Exterior walls/trim; loose paint, gaps, moisture tight
- Grounds; general slope of the grade, landscaping that has an impact on the structure
- Kitchen and appliances; sink, faucet, drain, stove, ventilation, dishwasher, disposal, counter and cabinets
- Bathrooms; tub, sink, shower, tile, corrosion, leaks, ventilation
- Laundry; sink, dryer energy source, dryer ventilation, washer plumbing
- Chimneys; exterior, interior that is easily accessed, operation of gas appliance
- Doors and windows; function, broken glass, screens, lockable exterior doors
- Garage; firewall condition, passage door, overhead door function
- Common safety devices; smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- Identifies items that should be replaced or repaired
- A disclosure of major visible defects including health and safety issues and system defects such as outlets that are not functioning and low water flow
Additional services that an inspector can provide
- Radon gas
- ** In Colorado this is recommended due to the state having higher than normal radon rates.
- Video of sewer interior
- Carbon monoxide
- Well evaluation
- Septic system
- Research building permits
- Water quality
- Lead paint
- Allergy aggravating elements
- Chimney interior video
An inspection protects the buyers interests and should focus on your individual needs and truly get you acquainted with your potential home.
The Outcome of the Inspection and How this Can Affect Your Contract
Once you have had a licensed professional inspect the home, you will receive a detailed report from the inspector that will go over everything that they have found. At this time the buyers should consult their Realtor® to review the document and determine what if anything you will be including in your inspection objection.
An inspection objection is a document submitted by a deadline that will determine any fixes that you request the seller to remedy before the closing of your home. If at this point you have discovered some thing that deters you as a buyer from that home, you can get out of your closing contract and generally still be able to have your earnest money returned no questions asked. If you want to continue with the contract your Realtor® will write a document requesting various repairs/changes to be made by the seller. This will also include withdraw terms that can state if there is no resolution between the buyer or seller than the contract can fail, or that if a certain term is not met that a contract can fail.
These terms are put forth to protect both the seller and buyers best interest. After you have submitted your inspection objection the seller has typically around three days (the contract will state this date) to respond with what they will do and what they will not do as requested by the buyers. There is absolutely no obligation on the sellers to accept any terms they do not wish to. If a seller does reject a term the buyers will then have a chance to change their stance or ask for a different term so that there can be resolution. If there is no resolution the contract will be implied failed and you will get your earnest money back.
The best way to avoid any potential fails during the inspection objection in your contract is to be selective when hiring your agent. If you hire a great buyer agent they will be on top of any deadlines that need to be met and will fight for your best interest during the contract period while keeping you highly informed.
If you are a first time buyer who is looking at potentially purchasing a home, read our blog post "Purchasing a Home in Northern Colorado-From the Perspective of a Young Millennial," in addition to this post for more great first time buyer information.