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Don't Let an Imperfect Home Inspection Scare You Away

By: Kris Berg for

Unless it's new construction, no home will be in perfect condition. So don't panic when an inspection yields less than stellar results.

The property inspection is a critically important part of the homebuying process. Most buyers like to know that the home they will be purchasing is structurally sound and that the systems are safe. That sounds reasonable enough. Yet, as a working agent, I often see the inspection process nearly derail the transaction, and not for the right reasons.

Don’t forget why you came

Any inspector or agent will tell you that the purpose of the home inspection is to investigate conditions which may rightly affect the decision to buy. Health and safety issues top the list; no buyer wants to unknowingly move their family into a death-trap or a money pit. Too often, however, the inspection becomes confused with an opportunity to pursue perfection. Unless the home you are purchasing is new construction, it will not be perfect.

So what is important? Faulty wiring, missing or inoperable smoke detectors, and, in California, water heaters which are not equipped with proper seismic strapping are all good examples. Other things generally considered “inalienable” rights include working appliances, water-tight roofs and windows, and plumbing which doesn’t tend to channel Old Faithful.

The inspector will not limit items called out in the report to the “biggies,” however. Their job is to thoroughly inspect each room in the home for deficiencies, however small. And, too often the buyers will request a list of repairs which reads like the blueprint for the Hubble telescope. I always advise my clients that if they want the best chance that the seller will address the truly important stuff, it is critical to avoid getting bogged down with minutia.

Will the fact that a drain stop in the guest bath is a little out of whack really be enough for you to cancel contract? Probably not. On the other hand, the under sink cabinet which, thanks to an ongoing pipe leak, needs a serious shave and suggests the presence of mold may be something worth the seller’s attention. You can adjust the sprinkler hitting the garden window after you move in; a carbon monoxide leak at the furnace should probably be addressed before you hit the hay for the first time in your new home.

So, in order to assess what is really important, you need to simply read the report. Right? Not necessarily.


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