Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase.
For more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.
Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.
- Doors and windows
- Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
- Attached porches, decks, and balconies
Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.
Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.
Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.
Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.
Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:
- Walls, ceilings and floors
- Steps, stairways, and railings
- Garage doors and garage door systems
Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.
Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.
Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (www.AHSI.org)
Definition: The most probable price in cash, terms equivalent to cash, or in other precisely defined terms, for which the evaluated property would sell in a competitive market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, with the buyer and seller acting prudently, knowledgeably, and for self-interest and assuming that neither is under “undue duress.”
What affects the market value of a home?
- Size of house and lot
- Interest rates
- Prices of recently sold properties
- Competing properties
What does not affect the current value?
- Original price
- Needed proceeds
- Wanted proceeds
- Cost to rebuild today
- Personal opinions of family, friends or neighbors
Value is determined by what a Buyer is willing to pay and a Seller is willing to accept in today’s market. Buyers should make their pricing decisions based on comparing a property to other properties sold in the area.
Making an offer
Everyone wants to get a deal, however the strategy of making an offer involves more than just throwing a price out to the seller, hoping they will accept it. First and foremost, if you want the negotiations to be successful, you want to submit a reasonable offer that the seller will be willing to work with. Starting off with an offer that is too low could offend the seller and halt any further negotiations. It is also important to remember that sellers all have different motivations for selling, and are all in different financial positions – all of which can affect what they may be willing, or able, to accept for their property. When submitting an offer you should take into consideration the condition and location of a property, as well as the current market value for the neighborhood.
Each property and circumstance is different, but a strategic negotiation plan, along with realistic expectations, can result in a successful purchase!