Here are few things you, the Pocono home buyer, should know about your home inspection. Keep in mind that this advice is intended as an overview of the process and it is not by any means a comprehensive list of everything you need to know, nor is it meant to minimize your need for representation in your real estate transaction or to negate any advice given to you by your Buyer's Agent and/or Attorney. Most of this advice assumes that the PAR (Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS(r) ) Standard Agreement of Sale has been used, including the pre-written home inspection contingency. As always, please read your contract to be certain that all of this applies. Also, if you are purchasing a foreclosure or REO property from a bank or other such entity, read the bank's Addendum carefully as there can be many variations to home inspection contingencies on these forms.
1) Time is of the Essence
There is a time limit involved in this process and you need to read your contract to see what this time limit is. Usually, inspections and any subsequent negotiations need to be completed within a couple of weeks. Check your documents to be certain about how much time you have, as ignoring the deadlines could expose you to additional risk like not being able to to cancel the sale should major defects be revealed. This is NOT a situation you want to be in.
2) It's Your Choice
You choose your inspector and accompany him/her during the inspection. Your agent will probably provide you with a few names, but the choice is ultimately yours, subject to the criteria spelled out by the Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law. Download consumer27s20guide20to20hi.pdf If someone tries to convince you to choose any particular one, be very wary and find out why. If they try to dissuade you from using one in particular, again, find out why. It is an unpleasant fact of life that some agents (not all and certainly not me) recommend and/or push inspectors who they know will sugar-coat the issues and save their 'deal'. Obviously this is not in your best interest.
3) Read the Report!
You and only you need to be satisfied as to the condition of the property, so please attend the inspection and please read the written report given to you afterwards. Do not expect your agent to tell you what to worry about because that is beyond the scope of her duty and expertise, and only you know what your comfort level and expectations are with regard to the condition of your future home. Of course, you can and should discuss the report with your agent in order to determine negotiating strategies and the next steps. And, if there is a major item that comes up during the inspection and you seem to have overlooked it or don't have a proper understanding of the implication for future resale of the property, etc, she certainly should point it out. But the rule of thumb for you to follow is, this is going to be your home and you need to be comfortable with it in all its glory, flaws (which every home has) and all.
4) Be Reasonable
The inspection is not your opportunity to take another swipe at the Seller's bottom line. More than likely, many of the items an inspector will point out are things you saw when you looked at the home and have already been used in the negotiations. Just because it is written in the inspector's report does not mean the price has to come down again, even if seeing it there written in black and white makes it seem scarier than it is.
However, if the home inspection reveals major defects, or more issues than you honestly anticipated when you first made your offer, negotiations are in order. But remember, the Seller is not required to make repairs, just as you are not obligated to buy the house if you are not satisfied with its condition (this is, of course, subject to any 'deductible' specified in the AOS if you chose Option 2 on the Inspection Contigency).
5) Requests in Writing
If you choose to negotiate repairs, make your request in writing to your agent and reference the applicable sections of the inspection report to ensure the issue is clearly and completely communicated to the other parties. Also, express your preference of the work being completed before you take possession of the property, the seller giving you a credit so you can do the repairs yourself, or money being placed in escrow so the money is there for the repairs as they are done post-closing. Be as specific as possible with your request, including specific dollar figures if possible or applicable. It may be necessary to obtain estimates from qualified contractors to ensure that these figures are accurate.
This part of the process can become quite tricky if there are substantial issues to address. Hopefully you hired a knowledgable Buyer's Agent to help you navigate through alll of the different aspects of this situation. For example, credits and escrows at closing can become issues with your lender, so you need to discuss these things thoroughly to avoid a problem later on that could jeopardize your ability to close on the property or worse. Further reading on your options in negotiating inspection issues here.
As always, this is offered as information only and none of the advice I give is to be considered legal advice. Please consult an attorney for legal issues.
For more information on home inspections, Buyer Agency or anything real estate in the Poconos, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 888.794.5589 x103.