They Accepted My Offer, Now What?
Understanding the Home Inspection
The art of crafting the perfect offer is just the first step in your home buying experience. As real estate agents, our priority is making sure clients are educated and empowered to make decisions as we complete the checklist to Close and that includes understanding the home inspection.
One of the most important steps – and sometimes the most emotional step in a “hot” market – is the Home Inspection. Like a diagnosis from a doctor, understanding the results from an inspection helps homebuyers understand any necessary actions needed before the close, and what to be ready for once the keys are in hand.
We recently met with Bob Emmett of PCA Inspections, a Bay Area commercial building and residential inspection service. From Termite inspection to Seismic Home Assessment, Bob provides a comprehensive report for his clients.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A HOME INSPECTOR?
My background is in commercial real estate and construction so I blended these two talents and passions when I moved to California. I knew other home inspectors on the east coast and realized this was a seamless transition; it also reduced my travel allowing me to stay closer to home with a growing family. (Bob is a new father!)
HOW DOES ONE GO ABOUT BECOMING A HOME INSPECTOR?
You need to take a national test for home inspections but I advise having a deep understanding of construction as well. You should also join associations and then start marketing yourself!
I moved to California for construction consulting and launched Home Inspection as a new line of business for the company.
WHAT DOES A HOME INSPECTION ENTAIL?
Home Inspectors follow a Standard of Practice as a bare minimum to understanding the home. I work off of our CREIA California Real Estate Inspection Association which provides a list from the foundation, exterior, interior, room and all building systems like heating, plumbing, electrical and chimneys.
Most inspections don’t cover unique appliances like a water filter system, well or a spa or hot tub. Even a trash compactor is considered a “unique” appliance.
If there is something outside of that we refer them to a specialist.
HAVE NEW “SMART HOME” TECHNOLOGIES CHANGED THE WAY YOU INSPECT?
The industry has evolved over the years and continues to evolve, so you want to check with your state to understand its standards for inspection. For example, in California, we now have to inspect safety equipment around pools and spas.
Any smart home digital or green technologies are not covered.
Eventually, the eco-updates will probably be a part of our base inspections.
WHAT IS A BASELINE FOR SETTING A HOMEOWNER’S EXPECTATION?
For buyers, I like to sit down and explain the results of the inspection, and what we’ve found so we can help the individual(s) understand future cost expectations.
Whenever you are buying a home a good practice is to always call the inspector who performed the inspection and simply say: “I’m interested in the house and I’d like to go over the report” …We don’t see that enough and it really does help you set the expectation as you move into a home.
For Sellers, my responsibility is to set their baseline as they prepare their house for market.
IS A HOME INSPECTION MANDATORY?
It is not required but it sets an expectation. To my knowledge, a lender will want to see the inspection depending on the loan.
I don’t always say you need an inspection. For example, a person getting a brand new condo probably doesn’t need an inspection or someone with a construction background.
Homebuyers are sometimes up against multiple offers so they will remove this contingency. If you have the ability, it’s worth the money just so you know what you are walking into when you move in.
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO POTENTIAL HOME BUYERS WILLING TO FORGO THE INSPECTION TO HELP WIN THE “ACCEPTANCE” OF THEIR OFFER?
If you don’t get in the running, you’ll never win the race. Hopefully, the seller has done an inspection. Around here it’s standard. 60% or more are seller inspections.
WILL YOU ADVISE A HOME BUYER WHEN IT COMES TO PURCHASING A HOME?
My job is to be objective. We stay level headed to make sure everyone understands what they are getting into. If there is a big-ticket item or safety risk we walk through it thoroughly. Also, if it’s a new parent I want to make sure they understand safety around a home.
I don’t always know the price of the home. It’s not a matter of whether you buy it or not, it’s your expectation. Buyers should ask themselves: “Do I want a ‘move-in ready home’ or am I willing to make improvements.” In today’s market, you should work with an agent ready to help you make these decisions.
WHAT’S A BIG TICKET ITEM?
Anything more than $10,000 and affects the performance of the home. Roof and foundation typically are the most expensive. Also, structural or issues requiring engineering which can be labor intensive.
Sometimes a “big ticket item” isn’t the issue but it’s getting to the issue to fix it. A home up against a hill with no side easements can cost more than the problem because of what it takes to get to the problem.
WHAT’S A SHOW STOPPER FOR YOU DURING AN INSPECTION?
There are never showstoppers in my opinion. Everything can be fixed, it just costs money. Even a foundation issue can be solved; you just need to find the cause. I suppose if you can’t find or stop the cause, that would be a showstopper.
HAVE YOU EVER FOUND ANYTHING THAT SURPRISED YOU?
Most often it stems from a DIY project, as it seems like most are done wrong 90% of the time.
GIVE US YOUR “IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK” EXPERIENCE:
The older homes are interesting. You get to walk back in time when you see an original stove/oven in a home!