FAQ on Home Inspections
What types of inspections are involved in a real estate transaction?
Typically, buyers opt for a comprehensive whole-house inspection as their primary choice. In addition, buyers may consider several other inspections, such as radon, mold, termite, and, if relevant, well and septic inspections.
Are there any required inspections in a real estate transaction?
In cases where there is a septic system and the buyer is securing a loan for the property, it is customary for the bank to require a septic inspection. Certain banks may also require a termite inspection as part of their lending requirements. However, no other inspections are required. It's worth noting that if the buyer obtains an FHA loan, the property must adhere to specific conditions. Therefore, an inspection component is incorporated within the FHA appraisal process but is not a comprehensive whole-house inspection.
Are sellers obligated to address requested repairs from buyers?
Buyers have the liberty to request any repairs they deem necessary. However, typically, sellers are responsible for addressing repairs associated with heating, air conditioning, plumbing, sewage system, electrical systems, roof, and radon systems (if any). These components must be in good repair and/or reasonable working order. Sellers are also typically responsible for issues related to structural damage.
What happens if sellers are not willing to address requested repairs from buyers?
Unless Seller and Buyer mutually agree as to how (and by whom) repairs related to heating, air conditioning, plumbing, sewage system, electrical systems, roof, radon system (if any) or structural damage shall be remedied, the Buyer shall have the right to terminate the Contract (and have Buyer's earnest money refunded.) Should the buyer decide to terminate the contract, the seller must disclose these defects to any future potential buyers that view the property.
Is it worth considering a home inspection before listing your house for sale?
While not mandatory, there are compelling advantages to having a pre-listing home inspection. Interestingly, the seller's pre-listing inspection and the subsequent buyer's inspection are identical, differing only in timing and cost responsibility. Buyer's inspections typically occur once both parties have signed a purchase agreement.
Now, let's look into the value a pre-listing inspection brings sellers. By conducting this inspection beforehand, sellers gain valuable awareness of any existing issues before entering negotiations for a purchase agreement. This empowers sellers to resolve these concerns in their preferred manner without buyer approval or input. It's worth noting that when buyers are involved, they often request that licensed contractors carry out repairs to ensure quality workmanship.
There are a few potential downsides associated with performing a pre-listing home inspection:
- Sellers must disclose any issues highlighted in the home inspector's report that they are unwilling to address or repair.
- Despite a pre-listing inspection, buyers may still opt for an inspection, which could uncover different issues altogether. Although sellers can decline a second inspection, some buyers may insist on conducting one.
It's important to remember that pre-listing home inspections are not typically recommended for properties sold in an "as-is" condition, where sellers explicitly state that they will not make any repairs.
By considering a pre-listing inspection, you can proactively tackle potential issues and make informed decisions, ensuring a smoother selling process.
How long do whole-house inspections last?
The typical home inspection lasts between 1 – 3 hours, depending on the size of the house.
When does the buyers requested inspections happen?
Per our contracts, all inspections must happen within 14 days of the offer acceptance date. The termite inspection must be at least ten days but at most 30 days before closing.
Who pays for the inspections that are part of the real estate agreement?
Buyers pay for all inspections unless getting a VA loan. In those situations, the seller pays for the buyer’s termite inspection.
Who attends home inspections?
The home inspector and sometimes the buyer and buyer’s agent attend the home inspection. Buyers who do not attend the inspection usually show up at the end to meet with the inspector to review the inspection results and receive the written inspection report. Some inspectors bring in additional contractors, such as HVAC and electrical contractors.
Should the seller attend the home inspection?
Sellers should not attend the home inspection. Allowing the inspector and buyer a private space during the inspection creates an environment where the inspector and buyer can openly and candidly discuss the property.
When will the results of the home inspection be available?
The home inspection must occur within 14 days of the offer acceptance date. The seller must be notified within the same 14-day period if the buyer is requesting any repairs. In the event of repair requests, the seller and seller’s agent will receive a written repair amendment and supporting home inspection report.
How is radon testing conducted?
The most reliable method of assessing radon levels in your home is through air testing. Testing must be completed by a licensed radon professional who utilizes active radon testing devices. These devices continuously measure and record the concentration of radon or its decay products in the air. Many of these devices generate detailed reports that can identify any abnormal fluctuations in radon levels during the testing period. In addition, some of these advanced devices detect and prevent interference during the test, incorporating anti-interference features.
A standard radon test typically spans 48 hours. Windows must be closed, and exhaust fans turned off. Exterior doors can be used as usual but not left open. Test results are usually available within 24 hours. It is important to note that any measurement exceeding 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) should prompt corrective actions to lower the levels below this threshold.
If the radon level is high, how much does it cost to mitigate?
If the radon level exceeds 4.0 pCi/L, professional mitigation is necessary. The cost of mitigation for an average-sized home typically ranges from $1000 to $1200. It's important to note that larger homes or those with crawl spaces may incur higher costs due to the additional complexities involved. Following mitigation, a re-test usually costs around $125 for an average-sized home. Again, the cost may be slightly higher for larger homes or those with crawl spaces requiring multiple testing units.
Who pays for mitigation if the radon level is high?
Sellers typically pay for radon mitigation when levels are above 4.0. While there is no explicit requirement for the seller to cover the costs of mitigation, the buyer has the right to terminate the contract if they choose not to do so. If the seller decides to put the home back on the market, they must disclose the presence of elevated radon levels to potential buyers. Subsequently, upon receiving this information, most buyers will request the seller to mitigate the radon level as part of the purchase agreement. In essence, the seller is essentially compelled to bear the expenses of radon mitigation in one way or another.
The buyer and seller can negotiate and include provisions in the contract regarding radon testing. For example, they may agree to either exclude a radon test altogether or allow for a radon test while acknowledging that the seller will not be responsible for mitigation. In such cases, the buyer is fully aware of this arrangement and accepts it as part of the agreement.
What if a mold inspection uncovers mold in the residence?
If mold is discovered and a mold inspection is part of the contract, the buyer is entitled to submit a repair amendment. If the cost of repairing or remediating the mold surpasses $2500, the buyer can terminate the contract. Should the price be below $2500, the buyer and seller must come to a mutual agreement regarding the remediation process and the responsible party. If the buyer and seller cannot reach an agreement, the buyer retains the right to terminate the contract.
What happens at a septic inspection?
The seller shall remove and restore any improvements to make the system available for inspections. Seller shall, at Seller's expense, pump the septic system if required or recommended. Septic inspections are completed to determine if the septic system:
a) Is properly functioning
b) Is adequate for the disposal of waste from the premises, and
c) Does not require changes under applicable health codes or local ordinances
What happens at a well inspection?
If the Premises obtains water from a well, private or semi-private, the buyer shall obtain an inspection of the well, water from the well, and the well equipment. Inspections are completed to determine if the well:
a) has acceptable potability
b) Does not require changes under applicable health code or local ordinances
c) To determine capacity and flow of well.
Who performs well and septic inspections?
Inspections shall be performed by the governing health department or qualified septic or well inspector(s) or contractor(s) regularly doing business in the area.
What happens if repairs are needed on well or septic systems?
If inspections for either well or septic reveal that such system is defective, inadequate, or unacceptable under applicable health codes the buyer shall have the right to submit a written repair amendment. Unless the buyer and seller mutually agree on how (and by whom) the defects, inadequacies, or unacceptable conditions shall be remedied, the buyer shall have the right to terminate the contract. If this happens, the seller must complete a new disclosure report stating that the seller is aware of these defects so any future buyer will know these conditions.
Who is responsible for paying for re-inspections or re-tests if required?
Seller is responsible for paying for re-inspection and/or re-tests for radon, mold, well and septic systems after repairs are completed?
Does a licensed contractor need to make the repairs?
Most of the time, buyers request that repairs are completed by a licensed or qualified contractor.
When should repairs be completed by?
All repairs should be completed at least five days before closing.