What you need to know about buyer home inspections.

If you're in the process of buying a home, here's what you may need to know about scheduling your inspections.

Once you have found a home to purchase you may have options within your contract to order home inspections & make additional requests to the seller, depending on how the contract was written.

In these circumstances, the contract will list a limit to the number of days in which you have to conduct inspections on the property. If you have the ability to make additional requests, there will be an additional number of days you have to resolve what was discovered in those inspections. 

Both the number of days in which there is to conduct inspections, as well as the number of dates you have to resolve said inspections are spelled out in the sales contract. For example, your contract might state that you have 10 days to order inspections & an additional 10 days to resolve what was discovered with the seller. 

Ordering Inspections

The timeframe in which the buyer has to conduct inspections is called the Inspection Window & the date by which these inspections must be completed by is called the Inspection Deadline.

Inspections should be conducted by licensed home inspectors & while your agent can recommend an inspector or inspection company, choice of a home inspector is always the buyer's. Inspections should be ordered once the contract is "fully executed", meaning all parties have signed & agreed to the terms of the contract. 

The buyer's agent will typically order these inspections on behalf of the buyer & the buyer will pay for the inspections upfront & out of pocket (i.e. before closing). There are times when an inspector will allow the buyer to pay for inspections out of closing costs, but that will be based on the inspector's discretion. 

Talk to your buyer's agent about which inspections you'd like to order, when you'd like to schedule the appointment, & what company you'd like to use.

The buyer may order as little or as many inspections as they desire & may opt to use multiple inspectors (to get a second opinion on a problem, for instance). However, it is very important that these inspections occur within the timeframe that is allotted so the buyer may exercise their rights within the contract.

Conducting Inspections

During the inspection window, the buyer may conduct as many or as few inspections of their choosing with a licensed/certified inspector. The inspection appointment dates will be set & agreed upon by the buyer, the inspector & the buyer's agent, who will all be present for the appointment.

Your buyer's agent will be present at the appointment with you.

These appointments typically last a few hours, depending on the number of inspections ordered & the size of the home. You do not need to be present for the entire duration of the appointment, as the inspector will typically go over their findings with you at the end of the appointment.

You do not need to be present for the entire duration of your appointment.

Some inspections may also take days to receive results (such as radon tests, which are left at the home over the course of a few days), so it is vital that these be conducted so that the reports can be collected before the Inspection Deadline.

During the appointment, the buyer will have every opportunity to learn of all the known defects of the home & ask plenty of questions. The buyer must be aware that the inspector, the agent & the seller can only provide to them the information they have at the time of the inspection & to the best of their own knowledge.

Resolving Inspections

Inspections are always conducted for informational purposes, as the buyer bears the burden of discovery.  However, there may be options within the buyer's contract to make additional requests from the seller of the home. The document that describes these requests is called the Inspection Notice & must be submitted by the date of the inspection deadline.

This notice may request the following:

  1. Repairs
    1. These may be done by licensed contractors or open to the seller's choice
  2. Credits
    1. These are funds paid by the seller to the buyer, in lieu of repairs
  3. Termination
    1. The contract may also be terminated on the grounds that an agreement cannot be met

The date by which the buyer and seller must come to an agreement on the items documented in the inspection notice is called the Inspection Resolution Deadline. In the event an inspection notice is sent to a seller, they will have all of the same options as the buyer in response to this notice (negotiate the repair requests, negotiate the credit requests, terminate the contract, or agree to the request).

Once your inspection notice is submitted, you will not have the option to request any additional repairs, credits, or termination of the contract on the basis of inspection findings.

All of these options are dependant on how the contract is written & it is vital that you speak with the broker or buyer's agent when questions arise to ensure you have a firm grasp on the options available to you.