I have been helping people buy and sell homes so long now that I remember when there was no such thing as a home inspector. There were only pest and dry rot inspectors, the “termite/carpenter ant guys!” When home inspections first became available it was sometimes hard to talk a buyer into paying more $$ for someone to take a closer look at their home. Everyone had an uncle or cousin that was a contractor or had some construction background and that would normally be the fallback position for any kind of inspection other than the industry expected pest and dry rot report.
As a Realtor we had to learn language and logic to help the buyer understand the value of this third party “expert” written opinion on one of the largest investments many families make. Today we don’t have to do that. It is assumed that there will be a home inspection we just have to talk about who, and when. It is just a normal, expected course of business. However, they can be misused. I spend a lot of time talking to my buyers and sellers about the purpose of a home inspection. For my sellers I warn them that a lot of inexperienced or perhaps more “win at all costs Reactors’” may council their clients, or probably more accurately, stated be unable to counter their client’s natural tendency to ask for it all!
So what is the purpose of a home inspection? From my long term vantage point there are three major purposes. ONE, do I even want this home when I see how it has been maintained? TWO, if we assume the answer to number one is yes, then are there condition issues outstanding that the buyer would be willing to walk away from the sale if the seller won’t mediate? If there are, then the seller agreeing to do the buyer’s desired repair/replace items becomes a condition of the sale moving forward. The big point that I try to make to both my sellers and buyers here is what the inspection is NOT! It is not a Christmas Wish List to turn an older home into a brand new one. If that is the buyer’s desire they should be looking at a brand new home.
But, I did mention three purposes. Perhaps the most important is the THIRD purpose. If at all possible I really recommend to my buyers that they attend the inspection. This is probably the single most important learning experience in this whole process. This is your first opportunity to become intimately acquainted with your new home. Seeing things in person as the inspector points them out is immeasurably better than reading the 20-40 page report later. Having seen these issues in person puts them in perspective. This then brings us to that THIRD purpose. This report becomes your owner’s manual. This is a great reference to keep handy. It is invaluable asset in keeping up with the maintenance on your new investment. Between what you learned at physically being at the inspection and the new “Owner’s Manual” you were given at the end of that inspection you are now much better equipped to enter the world of the responsible home owner!