While thinking about a subject for this week’s article, a topic gaining momentum when purchasing a new home (including co-ops or condos) is forgoing a pre-sale home inspection.
The purchase of a new home is one of the most significant events in one’s life. Logic would dictate that a relatively inexpensive (considering the cost of a new home) home inspection would be pursued by the consumer. However, my colleagues in the real estate industry explain that due to the unavailability of sale-worthy homes in key neighborhoods, prospective buyers are willing to pay above the listed asking price, and to avoid antagonizing the seller, often forego a home inspection by a licensed home inspection company. This decision is not only a major economic error, but simply dangerous consideration. Would we buy a used car without checking the condition of a vehicle? We spend countless dollars on life and health insurance, appliance insurance, etc., to avoid serious consequences. As we all know, homes - new and old - have possible “hidden” issues, and require our attention. The following article appeared in StreetEasy, a popular web-based magazine. I found it quite informative and hope that I can help educate our readers, in particular in the New York Metropolitan area.
Searching for a new home can be arduous. But there are multiple points in the process that serve to protect the buyer. One of these is the home inspection, which typically takes place between the acceptance of an offer and the contract signing.
Home inspections can uncover problems in apartments just as they can in houses. But they are not as typical here, particularly in the case of co-ops and large apartment buildings. “Inspections are not commonplace in our market for co-ops and condos. Buyers purchasing in small buildings or brownstones will often request an inspection, though, as costs for big-ticket items, such as the roof or facade, are spread among fewer apartments. But there is a marked increase as of late in NYC buyers requesting a home inspection.”
Problems can arise in new-construction developments, too - especially if the workmanship was rushed to meet a deadline. An experienced inspector can spot critical issues and make recommendations for how they can be resolved. Even if nothing egregious is found, a home inspection can highlight minor irregularities to take care of after you’ve closed.
How Long Does an Inspection Take?
Time frames vary depending on the property. Inspecting a brand-new studio may take just 45 minutes, while a brownstone floor-through may take several hours.
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
Cost is another thing that can vary greatly, depending on the size of the property and how much work is required. Other factors include the age and condition of both the apartment and building, and whether the unit has its own HVAC system. But overall, the average cost runs about $500 for a 1-bedroom.
Writers Note: The cost of inspections vary from company to company. The size and layout of the property generally determine the final cost of the inspection.
How Do You Find a Home Inspector?
To find a licensed inspector, check the American Society of Home Inspectors or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Note that the New York State Association of Home Inspectors is a political organization and does not handle referrals. Referrals are also a great way to locate a home inspector. Many home inspectors are degreed architects and engineers with decades of real-life experience.
Home Inspection Checklist
These are the top things an inspector should look at:
Plumbing: Besides turning faucets on and off to check the water pressure, an inspector will look at the pipes to check for any current or past water damage or leaks.
Electrical, heating, and cooling: These are all critical systems that need to be expertly assessed. Any flaws could become fire hazards or lead to system-wide failure. This is not only an inconvenience but possibly a health hazard, should the heat fail during a snowstorm or the AC during a heatwave.
Walls, ceilings, and floors: Any evidence of water damage should prompt a check for active water leaks. Even if the area is patched over, there may still be the potential for another leak - or mold.
Appliances: Unless you plan to replace these right away, it’s good to get them checked out. One inspector discovered that, even after an hour, an old oven still couldn’t make it up to 350 degrees. This allowed the buyer to negotiate for money to replace the oven.
What to Expect from the Report
After the inspection, you will receive a report detailing everything that was found (good or bad). Most reports will provide an overview of both the unit and building, as well as a listing of all the issues discovered during inspection. There will be either a recommendation after each issue, or a compiled list of recommendations at the end of the report.
What If the Home Inspection Reveals Problems?
For first-time buyers, it can be difficult to know what is essential to fix and what is less critical. After reviewing the report, feel free to have a discussion with your inspector so you can make informed decisions.
If there are big-ticket items to be addressed (roof, heating systems), you have a few options. You can negotiate for a reduction on the sale price, for the repairs to be paid for by the seller, or for the funds needed to resolve the issue. Whatever is decided upon should be added into the contract. Or, you can choose to walk away from the purchase.
Wishing all my readers a wonderful week, a good yom tov! At Bodeck Home Inspections, “Your safety is our main priority.”