Home Inspections 101 for Real Estate Agents Instructed by FIRSTNAME LASTNAME
Course Objective To leave you with: • A good understanding of the home inspection process • Information about how to manage your client’s expectations of the home inspection • Information about how to increase your client’s satisfaction and reduce your liability
A Home Inspection Completes the Sale Information gathered from an inspection helps bring buyers and sellers together: • Information leads to knowledge • Knowledge leads to understanding • Understanding leads to agreement Inspectors should understand their role in the sales process. Buyers, sellers and real estate professionals all have a role in the sales process.
Goals of the Home Inspection • To share unbiased information about major components and safety issues • To discuss repair, maintenance or safety issues beforehand • To move the sale forward
Informed Home Buyers • Most buyers know little about construction • Answering questions puts their minds at ease • Informed buyers are more satisfied and can better anticipate and plan for repairs and maintenance • Real estate professionals can focus on the next sale
Common Documents Associated With a Home Inspection • Pre-inspection agreement: Defines the scope of the inspection, standards followed and fee charged • Home inspection report: Should be clear and concise and incorporate photos
Home Inspection Report Formats Home inspection report formats vary: • Checklist or narrative • Combination checklist and narrative • Computer-generated • Handwritten • Oral (from a friend with no report) • May or may not include summary • May or may not include photos • Delivered at time of inspection or later
Home Inspection Report Basics In any case, reports should: • Be clear and concise • Adhere to the industry standards of practice as per major trade groups (ASHI, NAHI, InterNACHI) • Cover all major components • Be delivered in a timely fashion (such as within 24 hours) • Define terms used therein: (e.g., “acceptable,” “marginal,” “defective,” etc.) Who owns the inspection report? The client.
Professional Home Inspector Characteristics of a good inspector: • Trained, thorough and unbiased • Courteous and professional, and has the necessary tools and equipment • Has good written and oral communication skills • Insured, and, if applicable, licensed
Insurance Coverage for Professional Inspectors • General liability insurance • Should carry E&O insurance • Many E&O policies have a “referral” endorsement
Inspection Reduces Complaints and Liability Chart Provided by FREA
What an Inspector SHOULD Do • Generally adhere to industry standards of practice and code of ethics (ASHI, NAHI, InterNACHI) • Inspect readily accessible systems and components • Report: • Systems or components that aren’t working properly • Recommendations to correct • Explanations of the deficiencies • Reasons with fact that certain systems or components were not inspected
What an Inspector Should NOT Do • Predict remaining life of systems or components • Offer advice on methods, materials, costs to fix components unless qualified to do so • Offer to make repairs, refer specific contractors or receive referral fees • Comment on market value • Perform code inspections
Order a Home Inspection • Immediately after reaching a written purchase agreement with a home seller • Advise the buyer of what to look for in an inspector • Advise the buyer where and how to find a good inspector
Explain the Scope of the Inspection A good inspector: • Explains the scope and limitations of an inspection: visual review of readily accessible areas, random sampling of like items, etc. • Invites the buyer along for the inspection • Explains how long the inspection might take, what it will cost and when the home buyer can expect delivery of the inspection report • Touches on his/her training, experience and affiliations
Set Realistic Expectations • Very few homes are in perfect condition • This sale went through even though the house had severe wind damage because the buyer understood what had happened
How to Prepare for the Property Inspection • Secure pets • Turn off alarms • Remove obstructions to: • Furnace and water heater • Electrical panel • Attic • Garage • Crawl space, etc.
After the Inspection A good inspector will: • Leave things the way he/she found them • Verify that the furnace/AC is running and return thermostat to original setting • Turn off lights or running water • Make sure doors are locked, etc.
Grading and Drainage • Great curb appeal: But the inspector is looking for positive drainage • Water is the No. 1 issue with most homes • Need positive drainage (slope) on all four sides • Most drainage issues are easy to fix
Driveway, Walkway and Steps • Loose or missing handrails (inside or out) are a safety issue • Driveways/sidewalks/patios can have tripping hazards: • Heaving • Differential settlement • Excessive gaps
Porches, Stoops, Decks, Balconies and Patios • Ledger board should be bolted to the structure not just nailed. • Railing should have proper height and spacing • Railings and hand railings should be firmly attached • Support posts and stair stringers should have no earth-to-wood contact • Decks can be expensive, but are fairly easy to repair
Exterior • Trees can abrade roofs, as well as heave driveways and sidewalks • Tree roots can affect foundations, sewer lines, etc. • Other vegetation should be kept away from siding, air conditioners, etc.
Roofing System Inspection of roof: • Estimate age • Number of layers • Type of materials • Leaking or not? • Types of valleys • Flashing
Chimneys Chimneys are a frequent maintenance issue and can be expensive to repair. Inspectors check for: • Proper alignment • Proper height • Flashed properly • Lined and capped
Siding and Trim • There are many exterior coverings, such as wood, vinyl, stucco, brick, stone and synthetics • Some are more high-maintenance than others • Vegetation can affect siding
Windows and Doors Inspect for: • Operation • Alignment • Weather-stripping • Evidence of leaks
Pools, Hot Tubs and Spas • Swimming pools and hot tubs are high-maintenance • Could involve filters, skimmers, gas, electric or solar heat, a pool house, etc. • Self-closing gate with a 6-foot-high security fence is a must
Irrigation System Sprinklers are mostly out of sight, but not out of mind: • Underground leaks/erosion can greatly affect driveways, sidewalks, etc. • Poorly placed heads can lead to water intrusion in the basement, etc. • In the best case, sprinklers are high-maintenance
Miscellaneous Inspections Some inspections might require specialists: • Well inspections • Septic inspections • Potability tests • Seawalls, private docks • Other: termite, radon, mold, etc.
Garages • A single garage door such as this one receives a lot of use • Examining the operation, tracks, springs, openers and fit is important • For child safety, auto reverse is a must
Electrical System Inspectors check for adequacy and safety including: • Amperage/voltage • Service cable • Panel • Branch circuits • Grounding • Wire conductor • GFCI, AFCI • Smoke detectors
GFCI Current standards require GFCI protection: • Bathrooms • All kitchen countertops • Unfinished basements • Garages • Crawl spaces • All outside electrical outlets
Smoke Detectors • National safety standards require smoke detectors • Can be battery operated, hard-wired or both • Can be monitored by security company • Some areas require one outside each bedroom • Some areas now require one in each bedroom or living area • Inspectors activate test button only
Plumbing and Fixtures • Water is the No. 1 concern: plumbing and plumbing fixtures are a significant part of the inspection • Inspector is looking for leaks, adequate flow and pressure • Also checking for sluggish or plugged drains
Plumbing System Plumbing leaks can also damage: • Cabinets/vanities • Behind shower tile • Subfloors, ceilings below, etc.
HVAC System Check for adequate heating (gas furnace): • Overall size, age and condition of unit • Proper location of unit • Adequate combustion air • Adequate temperature rise • Heat source in each room • Condition, size and location of ducts • Condition of blower/humidifier • Heat exchanger (mostly hidden) • Check for flue gases and other leaks around exhaust and in supply air • Dirty filters obstruct flow and affect temperature rise • Thermostat unit responds to controls
HVAC System Check for adequate cooling: • Overall size, age and condition of unit • Outside unit, clean, level and up off the ground, suction line insulated • No obstructions interfering with unit • Discharging heat-ambient test • Adequate temperature drop (14 to 22 degrees F) • Blower clean and variable speed • Dirty filters obstruct flow and affect temperature drop • Thermostat unit responds to normal controls
Kitchen • Cabinets: Countertops, tile and backsplashes • Stoves: Operable burners, not timers • Disposal: Inspect for smooth operation, excessive noise • Dishwasher: Condition, leaking, proper air-gap device • Ventilator: Recirculating or nonrecirculating • Other Built-ins: Microwaves, trash compactors, refrigerators
Bathrooms • Can be one of the most expensive areas to replace or refurbish • With simple maintenance, expensive repairs can be avoided
Walls, Ceilings and Floors • Walls, ceilings and floors can be covered by a wide variety of materials • Inspector checks for deflection/tolerance in floors, bowing or cracking in walls, cracks, stains or wet spots in ceilings • Operation and fit of doors and windows from the inside
Water Quality/Potability Testing • No water is pure. • Water quality testing is often required when purchasing a home with a private well system. • Companies that supply municipal water supplies regularly test for water quality. If you have a private water supply, then water quality testing is up to you. • Many states require certain water tests on private well systems as part of the lending process when buying or selling a home.
Well-Water Contaminants • Water that enters a private well system starts as rain or snowmelt • The precipitation percolates through the ground and eventually into the well • On its way, it can pick up contaminants. Some common contaminants include the following: • Improperly maintained septic system • Use of fertilizers/pesticides • Fuel spills • Industrial or commercial activity • Improper waste disposal • Many contaminants are invisible to the naked eye and do not change the appearance of the water