At Home with Christie – Keeping Perspective on Inspections


Christie Mahany
Christie Mahany

Keeping Perspective on Inspections

Oh inspections… How I love/loathe you so….

That’s not entirely true. I love inspections. I think inspections are some of the best money you will ever spend on a house, providing they are approached correctly. It’s only when they’re are not treated appropriately that the *loathe* part of the equation comes in.

The inspections I’m talking about are the ones that are elected as part of the Agreement of Sale. This is where the buyer says “I’ll buy [sellers] house, but I want to have it inspected first” and typically has so many days to do so. This is a wonderful decision, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

1. Hire an official home inspector. This is not the time to say “I had a buddy take a look at it…” No. Just no. No. No. Get the real deal, or if you want to have your buddy take a look at it, do that before you make an offer. Trying to pass off a buddy or an uncle as an inspector won’t fly.

home-inspection-WEB 2. Remember that there is no way for an inspector to catch absolutely everything. I had clients that were upset because an inspector didn’t catch that the pipes inside a chimney were offset a little and now they were going to have to redo the chimney. Now, they only learned it when they tore down the front of the chimney during a remodel anyway. I’m not sure how they expected the inspector to find that or see that without tearing down a wall, but they did. Inspectors can only observe and report their observations. So if you start demolition later on please note that you’ll likely find some new things not mentioned in the report.

3. Speaking of the report… The report is NOT a “to-do” list. Some reports are long, some are short. Either way, it’s NOT a list of items that needs to be repaired before closing. It’s not even a list of items that need repaired AT ALL. What it is is a list of observations. Let’s think about it this way – if an inspector is being paid to check out a house, that inspector is going to write absolutely everything down that s/he sees. This includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. As a buyer, you’re really just interested in what is a newfound safety, soundness or security concern. Which leads us to…

4. This is not always a renegotiation tool. Sure, it frequently happens that a new, unknown issue arises after inspections. I had sellers that had no idea that their roof was as bad as it was, until they climbed up after the inspection report marked it as being in immediate need of replacement. If something is very concerning and not previously known? Then do whatever you and your agent need to do to get things made right so everybody is comfortable moving forward. The dishwasher is old and ugly, but still functioning? Sorry. This is not the time or place, especially since you saw that when you first walked through. Everything looks pretty good on the inspection report, but you were really hoping to pay $2000 less and wanted to use that to negotiate further? Your chances aren’t looking good, my friend.

My advice to all of my buyers is that we take everything that we know to be true at face value when first making an offer on a home. We then plan to have inspections check for any questionable items or any unknown defects that we didn’t see. Once we get the report we triage it to see what is a safety or soundness issue, and what is just maintenance that should be addressed over the years of owning a home. After all, houses are really like living, breathing beings of their own, constantly changing and needing attention in one place or another.

Until next time. At home, Christie

About Christie Mahany:

Christie Mahany
Christie Mahany

On any given day I’m a full time real estate agent, momma and chief wrangler of two kids and two dogs, married to a guy who essentially hunts and fishes for a living, and happy residing on the outskirts of Erie, PA. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I have superpowers, except my cape is usually in the laundry…I hope. It’s all in a day’s work.

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