Home inspections are a vital component of today’s real estate transactions yet there are often misconceptions about what comprises a home inspection. Today, we hope to help clear up some of the confusion and provide a basic overview of the inspection process.
Let’s Start at the Beginning
Home inspections began sometime in the early 1970’s as side business for general or other contractors but became more organized in the late 1970’s with some states adopting formal regulations. Texas was the first state to require licensing in the mid 1980’s with other states quickly following, although not all states require licenses. In our service area, Pennsylvania does not require licenses for home inspectors, but the state of Delaware does have a license requirement.
However, the lack of a license requirement does not mean that there are not regulations in place. Pennsylvania home inspectors are regulated by laws including membership in an approved home inspection association, training requirements and insurance coverage. You can read Pennsylvania’s Home Inspection law by clicking here and Delaware’s Home Inspection law here.
So…What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation, intended to assist in the evaluation of the overall condition of the dwelling. It is a snapshot in time; based on observation of the visible and apparent condition of the structure and its components at the time of the inspection.
The results of a home inspection are not intended to make any representation regarding the presence or absence of underlying or concealed defects that are not reasonably discoverable in a competently performed home inspection. The goal is to educate the client on the condition of the home and its components to enable them to make a more informed decision.
Think of it this way – a home inspection is like a visit to your general practitioner for a check-up. Having a home inspection is like giving a home a physical check-up. If problems or symptoms are discovered, the inspector may recommend repair, replacement, or further evaluation by a specialist.
What a Home Inspection Is NOT
A home inspection is NOT:
- Invasive or exhaustive – home inspectors can’t see inside walls, under floors, predict the future or find every little thing that may be wrong with the home
- An appraisal – an inspection report does not provide the value of a home
- A cosmetic inspection
- A code inspection
- A warranty or guarantee – just like any other investment, a home’s components will start to wear over time – a home inspection does not guarantee that your HVAC unit will not stop working next year
- Required – however it is highly recommended to protect yourself
Whether you are the buyer/seller or a real estate agent being aware of what to expect from a home inspection can go a long way in minimizing anxiety and ensuring a smooth transaction. Some things to consider:
- Don’t panic! No home is perfect – with age all homes will have some deficiencies but they can be fixed or replaced
- Prepare in advance:
o Buyers: review the inspection agreement prior to the inspection to understand the scope of the inspection and any exclusions.
o Sellers: be prepared to address findings whether through repairs or negotiations with the buyers
o Agents: prepare your clients by telling them what the inspector is going to do and not do and how long the inspection is going to take.
Home inspections are a valuable part of the real estate transaction and provide many benefits to both the buyer and seller. Home inspectors do not kill deals – conditions and expectations kill deals. Everyone is different – one buyer may not have the same level of concern regarding an issue as another. Understanding the inspection process, setting expectations in the beginning and talking through findings with clients and inspectors can ease anxieties and make the process smoother for everyone.
Our experienced team of inspectors proudly serves the following areas:
Chester County, PA
- West Chester
- Kennett Square
Delaware County, PA
- Newtown Square
Montgomery County, PA
New Castle County, DE
Also serving portions of the following counties: Lancaster (PA), Berks (PA), Bucks (PA) and Kent (DE).