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Make the most of your home inspection

Learn more about hiring a home inspector and how this professional can ultimately save you money.

A quality home inspection will provide you with a complete examination of your potential new house to document conditions before you make a deal. A new home is a huge investment so having the property's value confirmed is vital before you make the commitment. From a financial standpoint, the repair costs of undiscovered flaws can end up being more expensive than other homes you considered over time. It's also important to locate and remedy anything that can become a safety hazard before moving in. Home inspectors are trained to seek out problems, such as those related to electrical wiring and roofing, that the average homeowner may overlook.

Choosing a home inspector

The most important quality to look for in a home inspector is sufficient training and licensing. There are several organizations that require affiliated inspectors go through training and assessments before they can start performing inspections under the company's umbrella of validity. Some organizations that are widely recommended are the American Society of Home Inspectors, the National Association of Home Inspectors and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

Often real estate agents have a go-to list of inspectors to offer prospective buyers interested in home inspection. Though it might easier and more convenient to hire a real estate referral, remember the stakes for your realtor. Real estate agents have a vested self-interest in your home inspection because it can make or break the sale for them. Real estate is typically a commission-based industry so a positive inspection report that leads to a deal means payday.

It's also in the inspector's best interest to complete favorable inspections to secure more referrals from the realtor. If you decide to go with your realtor's suggestion, Christopher Solomon of MSN Real Estate recommends asking for several inspector names and doing your research before hiring anyone. Also consider asking realtors who they would hire to inspect their own home.

There are a few more ways to vet home inspectors, including checking for complaints against them. You could do this through their affiliate organization, the licensing board or the local Better Business Bureau. Another way to gauge the quality of an inspector's work by asking to see a resume or a sample summary report. 

What to pay attention to during an inspection

Harvey S. Jacobs, a real estate lawyer and columnist for The Washington Post, suggests home buyers stay with the inspector while he or she goes through their home. This will help you understand any issues the inspector finds because he or she can often provide supplementary information. It'll be easier to get an in-depth explanation and specific details through a conversation, as opposed to simply reading the summary report. Jacobs said some inspectors know the cost and extent of repairs which can help with negotiating with the seller.

Another benefit of going through the house step-by-step is the opportunity to learn more about home inspection. You can watch how the inspector goes about the process, preparing you for the day when you need to look for problems yourself. Don't hesitate to ask the inspector any questions you have, even if they seem basic.

Popular Mechanics compiled a list of 25 places to care about during a home inspection. Some of the places to pay attention to are gaps around doors which can indicate a weak foundation and termite tubes that can imply those pests are feasting on your new home.

After the inspection, you'll be given a comprehensive report of the inspector's findings. This report becomes valuable before closing the sale because you can ask that repairs be made or the selling price be dropped before you sign a contract for flawed property. 

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