Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's A Good Time For A Home Inspection

by Broderick Perkins
© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom – It's a good time for a home inspection.

In today's flat markets, a home inspection can give buyers a negotiating edge.

Sellers, on the other hand, get an anti-haggling tool.

Actually, it's always a good time for a home inspection. Even in a seller's market, buyers ought to know what "as-is" really is.

Housemaster franchisee, Mike Kuhn, is also co-author of "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Home Inspections" (Penguin Group, $9.95) and says for $350 to $500, a professional home inspector should review the major, visible and accessible components of the home and provide a detailed written report rating each element.

The objective report should include detailed information in a way that allows the customer to make informed decisions about the findings.

The inspection can also be a learning opportunity for a buyer or seller who attends the event. The inspection will let them get to know the home, see the inspector demonstrate systems and to learn maintenance tips.

It can also help buyers see through the veil of misleading staging and other cover-ups as well as help buyers uncover building permit and code violations.

Sellers can likewise use the inspection to determine what they need to do to put the home in competitive shape for the market, or price it fairly to sell as-is.

"Many Realtors and clients believe they benefit from a pre-listing inspection's ability to present the fundamental condition of the home to prospective buyers; discover defects that sellers can have repaired before the home is listed; and justify the price of the home, which reduces buyer negotiations," said Chris Shupp, a home inspector and managing member of Holmes & Watson Real Estate Inspection, LLC in Santa Clara.

While a home inspection, purchased by the buyer or seller or both, is more common than it's ever been, 25 percent of home buyers, or more (depending upon the source) do not buy a home inspection, says Kuhn.

Even new homes need a once over.

"New homes should be inspected for sub contractor issues, that are
missed by the contractor. Examples of new home issues include over-fused breakers
for air conditioning units, missing or improperly wired ground fault circuit interrupters, outlets, loose roof tiles and improper plumbing," said Bruce Carmichael a home inspector and owner of Advantage Inspection Professionals in San Jose.

Last year, based on data from 20,867 new single-family homes inspected in 2005, Quality Built found that the three most common construction problems discovered in single-family homes were in the building envelope (41 percent of the time); framing and structural elements (34 percent); and in the plumbing and electrical systems (8 percent).

As homes age, given the life expectancy of certain systems, the home inspection remains prudent.

Within 10 years, foundation settling could create drainage problems; by the age of 20, appliances are well outdated and the roof and wood components exposed the weather or moisture could need replacing; at 40 years the HVAC system will likely need replacement; and older historic or architecturally significant homes can develop structural problems and need restoration.

"We also find lots of safety hazards in homes. Examples are old sliding glass windows that are not tempered safety glass, missing smoke alarms and missing pressure relief valves on water heaters, said Carmichael.

The American Society of Home Inspector's (ASHI) "Virtual Home Inspection Tour" online can give you a sense of what a professional inspector sees, what areas he or she can't see and won't inspect and what the inspector is likely to find and where.

"Most homeowners have neglected their homes and have never done any preventive maintenance. We take better better care of our cars than our biggest investment," said Carmichael.

© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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