What is a Home Inspection?

Congratulations!!  You found the perfect home!!  Is it?  Is there mold?  Could the HVAC be on its last legs?  What about the foundation?  Roof leaks?  

No home is perfect, not even new construction.  To make sure that your new home is NOT a money pit, you need a professional home inspection to verify that the major systems are in good working order.

Over the past couple of months, Kelly and I have had several questions from both buyers and sellers regarding the home inspection process. What is inspected?  If the inspector finds something, what next?  How to negotiate the repair request?  Do we ask the seller to fix it?  Who fixes it?

These are just some of the questions that we are asked and this article will highlight some of the ins and outs of the home inspection process.

What is a Home Inspection?

Home Inspection

Before we talk about how to handle a repair request, let’s first talk about the home inspection.  What is a home inspection?  A home inspection is an evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home; e.g. plumbing, roof, HVAC, and is intended to give the client an understanding of their condition.

Once the home inspection has been completed, the inspector will provide a detailed report of his/her findings.  The report can be a few pages to many pages, depending on the number of items.  As a home buyer, you may be tempted to ask your agent to send the entire report to the home seller with a giant stamp on the front that says.

“Fix Everything!!”


My Buyer Wanted Everything Fixed!!!

While it may be tempting to request that everything on the repair report to be fixed, so that your new home can be as perfect as possible when you move in, that’s just not realistic.

We recently listed an older home in an established neighborhood east of Raleigh.  The home was reasonably maintained and updated.  The buyers’ agent provided us with a ten-page, single-spaced list of repair items that his client was requesting! Replace all of the electrical faceplates…yup.  Broken latch to the crawl space…that one was in there, also.  Burnt out lightbulb in the master bath vanity…That one was there too!!!  Many of the items were under $10.00 per item!

Pick Your Battles

Concentrate your request on the major, structural issues, rather than on the cosmetic issues.  Here some examples of items that you should request:

  • Leaking pipes in the basement, crawlspace or in the living area.
  • Damaged or broken roof shingles.
  • Major electrical defects that cause safety issues.
  • Significant plumbing problems that interfere with the use of the home.
  • Leaking water from the roof.
  • Water penetration in the crawl space or basement
  • Mold problems
  • Elevated Radon levels above EPA suggested levels.
  • Pest infestations
  • Septic issues
  • etc

The above items are a condensed list of possible issues worth asking a seller to address. There certainly could be others but these are without question reasonable repair requests that any buyer would have. Depending on the mortgage loan program; e.g. FHA, VA, etc. your mortgage lender may require that certain repairs be completed for your loan request to be approved.

Credit or Seller Repair

This is an important consideration when requesting repairs.  Depending on a number of factors; e.g. extent of repair, timing needed to make the repair, etc. you may request that the seller complete the repair prior to closing and/or you may request a credit from the seller for the repair.

Since the seller has no vested interest in the home once it is sold, they may not hire the most qualified contractor, or the contractor may not complete in the most workmanlike manner.  By requesting a credit, you have the ability to select your preferred contractor and to confirm that the work is completed satisfactorily.  Before asking for a cash credit, your agent should check with your lender to determine if a cash credit is allowed and the amount that is allowed.

How About a Home Warranty?

Offering a home warranty may be acceptable to both parties in a situation where a system; e.g. HVAC, appliances, etc. may require repair or replacement in the future.  Home warranties cover major defects for a year and provide a buyer with peace of mind. One caution, a home warranty will not cover a system that is broken prior to closing.

Closing Tips

I often tell my buyers and my sellers that negotiating repairs is the 2nd round of negotiation in the home selling process.  The first, obviously, is the negotiation of the initial offer.  The home inspection should be a give and take between the buyer and seller. It should have a reasonable conclusion where both parties are satisfied with the results.

If you are purchasing a home in a seller’s market, it is even more important to be reasonable in requesting repairs to the seller.  As a buyer, you could find yourself on the outside looking in if you anger the seller to the point, they want to have

Purchasing a New Home

nothing to do with you.  Our seller that received the ten-page, single-spaced repair request went ballistic!!  We did close, but the entire tone of the transaction changed from then on.

When working with sellers we often explain to them that a test to determine if a repair request is reasonable is whether or not another buyer coming along would have the same inspection concerns. If the answer is YES then the owner should fix what the buyer is requesting.

Sellers will often ask should I get a pre-listing home inspection? If you have an older home and know you have some defects needing attention, it might be worth the money! Anytime you can prevent a home inspection from causing your sale to go down the tubes is a good thing.

About Log Pond Realty

Home is where your story begins. Home is where hopes and dreams are born, memories are made, and lives are lived. We would love the opportunity to assist you in writing your new story.

We can be reached via phone at 919.589.3576 or via email at inquiries@logpondrealty.com 

We service the Triangle region of North Carolina including Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Fuquay-Varina, Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, and Garner.