As a real estate agent, you play a crucial role in the home buying process. Arguably one of the most important aspects of this process is the home inspection, and homebuyers will oftentimes look to their real estate agent to provide a trusted referral.
Whether agents choose to attend inspections or not, they should have a fundamental understanding of what goes into the process, and how to recognize a good inspector.
Typically, a thorough inspection of a 2,000-square-foot home takes about 2-3 hours. Within this time frame, the inspector will examine the home’s structure (foundation and framing), exterior (driveways, steps, porches, etc.), interior (walls, ceilings, floors, railings, etc.), roof, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, ventilation and insulation and fireplaces. A good home inspector should definitely:
- Enter the crawl space and/or attic
- Inspect furnace and electrical panels to see what’s inside
- Check all electrical switches and outlets
- Open and close all windows and doors
- Closely examine the roof
- Examine the underside of stairs and the insides of closets
- Check walls, ceilings and floors for defects
- Flush all toilets to ensure they work properly
- Check water pressure and drain functions in plumbing fixtures
- Check fireplaces and chimneys
The inspector should also check the home’s exterior for weather damage, decay or signs of settling, as well as be familiar with any soil or flooding problems in the area.
Upon completion, the inspector will walk the homebuyer through the report and note any necessary repairs or updates. The real estate agent and homebuyer may then either request the home seller to adequately address the issues, or provide the money for the homebuyer to make the repairs after purchase.
Real Estate Agent Involvement
While real estate agents can provide referrals, the homebuyer will ultimately select and hire an inspector of their choice. Although not mandated, it is recommended that the real estate agent always be present at the home inspection when possible.
As mentioned, the home inspection is sometimes the trickiest hurdle to cross, but the agent can play a key role in helping the process move forward. Agents can ask the inspector additional questions to help better explain the situation and alleviate concerns. As a representative of the home buyer, an agent present at the inspection can better negotiate the home price or terms, including necessary repairs. Likewise, agents representing the seller are also encouraged to attend inspections to better negotiate for their own clients.
What to Look For in a Home Inspector
In addition to an inspector’s referrals and resume, it is important to ask additional questions to gain a solid understanding of their credentials. Questions to ask include:
- Whether they belong to a professional association
- Their experience level
- Methods of keeping expertise up to date
- Whether their focus is on residential inspections
- Typical length of inspections
- Whether their report will meet all the state requirements
- Whether the real estate agent is allowed to attend the inspection
WIN home inspectors provide a comprehensive analysis of the condition of a home, from assessing the structural components of a property to reviewing its major and ancillary systems. Starting with the home’s foundation, WIN inspectors fully examine both large-scale structural elements such as the roof, basement, crawl space, attic, ceilings, windows, doors, floors and walls, and systems such as heating and cooling, plumbing and electrical.