Sunday, August 3, 2008

Inspection? We Don’t Need NO Stinking Home Inspection! Do We?

As a first time homebuyer you spent hours finding scouring the internet for the perfect homes that met the criteria of your dream home. You took the time to find a knowledgeable loan officer to get pre-approved for a mortgage. With good faith estimates now in hand, you diligently searched for a REALTOR® who as your buyer’s representative would be your advocate in the purchase negotiations. After traveling through Anoka and Washington Counties and seeing homes from Forest Lake to Andover and Blaine to Ham Lake, you decide this is THE house to place an offer on. Your agent in preparing your offer asks, “Do you want to do an inspection?” And suddenly, all reason and goes out the window because you answer, “Inspection? We don’t need a Home Inspection. Do We?”In a word, YES!
As a REALTOR® representing clients throughout the north and east Twin Cities metro, I am often surprised that someone would elect not to have an inspection. Buying a home is the single most important purchase most people will make in their lives. It is important to have a non-biased professional inspect the property for defects prior to the final papers being signed. In this market, flooded with foreclosures and short sales where the previous owner may not have been able to afford the necessary home maintenance required to keep a home in tip top shape and don't always give adequate property disclosures, it is essential.

Questions! Boy do I get questions about home inspections!

  • What does the inspector check in a home inspection?

  • Who selects the inspector?

  • Who pays buyer or seller?

  • What is the cost of an inspection?

  • What should really be inspected?
I believe every buyer should inspect every home. But there are different types of inspections because while a home inspection will inspect the total home, often additional experts are required to inspect the total property. And sometimes additional or special testing is required so that the buyer can have a better understanding of the home they are purchasing.
Total Home Inspection
—$300-500 depending on the size of home and company selected for the inspection. The fee it is paid for by the buyer. This is a great starting point for most home buyers and possibly the only inspection necessary for most single family homes. The basic inspection will be a 2-3 hour top to bottom look at the house; usually including a review of the roof, foundation, mechanicals, structure and built in appliances to ascertain if they are in proper working order. Other testing could be recommended by the inspector after the basic inspection is completed if the home inspector notices any particularly unusual situation that will need expert evaluation. Some inspection companies will charge additional fees for inspecting outbuildings and unusual features so verify what is covered under the basic inspection service prior to them arriving at the property.

Septic Compliance Inspection—$300-500 for the inspection plus $200-$300 to pump system before the test can be performed. This test is requested by the buyer but traditionally paid for by the seller as in Minnesota, if the septic system is found incompliant, the state will be notified and the homeowner will have one year to bring it up to code. In the case of a foreclosure or short sale, the property owner may insist that the buyer pay for all inspections including the septic system. The cost of purchasing a home with the septic system AS-IS can be risky as the cost of replacing a failing or non-conforming system is $15,000-$20,000.

Well Inspection—$75-$150 This is an inspection of the well by a licensed well installer to determine if the well is in good operating condition. The fee can be paid for by either the buyer or the seller.

Well Water Testing—$100-$200 depending on which elements the water is tested for. In most cases, this test is paid for by the seller. The water is collected by the independent testing service and some tests will take up to two weeks for results unless additional fees are paid for rush testing. Most often a test is for will require a water test for bacteria and nitrates. Some loans, like FHA and VA loans may have additional testing requirements. It is important to check with the lender to find what would be required for each specific loan. Local governments can have specific point of sale testing requirements so check with the municipality.

Inspection for Radon—$100-200 usually paid for buy the buyer. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. It is found in many Minnesota homes entering through cracks in basement foundations and open tops of block walls. It is colorless and odorless so most homeowners are not aware of a problem unless the home has been tested. It is estimated by the
Minnesota Department of Health Radon Information page, that 1/3 of Minnesota homes have radon levels that pose a substantial risk to homeowners.

Inspection for Lead—$150-250 usually paid for buy the buyer. Home seller are required to disclose whether there are any known risks of lead in all homes built prior to 1978. Lead was a common ingredient in paint prior before 1978. Many homeowners have not tested so they are not aware of lead risks in the home. It is important to assume that older painted surfaces used paint containing lead. If these surfaces have been painted the risk is limited. But home buyers do have an option to have additional testing completed on the home they purchase. The
Minnesota Department of Health has additional recommendations for testing a home for lead on their website lead poisoning can cause permanent problems with health, learning and behavior in children and significant health problems with adults.

READ MORE INFO from HUD Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home

Mold Inspections—$200-$1000 Mold testing is costly and according to the
Minnesota Department of Health Mold Information Page, it does not need to be done for most homes unless there is an indication of a problem. Stucco homes built in the late 1990’s with poor air circulation have been known to have significant potential problems. Homeowners with stucco homes will often test the home prior to listing and have a report for the buyer to review. Buyers can also elect to retest the home if the previous report is not acceptable to the buyer. If a foreclosure and short sale owner does not have the funds to do the expensive moisture testing, the buyer may have to pay for the test or accept the home AS IS. This is a risk as repairs for full mold abatement can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and the home would be unlivable during the process.

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If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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