Home Inspector Questions Buyers Should Ask

Buyers should ask their home inspectors certain questions to learn more about their prospective new homes. While it’s commonplace to think of the assessment as pass or fail, there’s really no such thing. Even if a significant problem is discovered, such as a dying central HVAC system, it doesn’t mean the home can never be bought or sold. Although such issues will appear on the home inspection report, it’s up to the parties to decide which will incur the financial responsibility. Often, these are used as bargaining chips for concessions.

What a Home Inspection Is and Isn’t

It’s equally important to understand what a home inspection is and is not. A home inspection is not to point out cosmetic flaws — it’s to uncover what are known as “material defects.” These are issues which devalue a property and/or present safety and/or health hazards. For instance, a small leak in the roof will certainly be listed on the inspection report, but it does not negatively affect the home’s value and is not a safety or health issue.

Ask inspectors how long they’ve been working in the field and how many inspections they’ve completed. Also ask for customer referrals. New inspectors may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and indicate whether they work with a more experienced partner. —National Association of Realtors

However, if a home contains an outdated electrical system, that too, will be listed on the inspection report. Of course, an outdated electrical system is a safety concern and does impact the value of the property. The truth of the matter is, very few houses inspected do not contain at least one or more minor issues. For instance, a home with a few missing electrical outlet wall plates or dripping faucets. Technically, these are problems but quite minor. It’s things like these and others you should look for in the final walk-through if missed by the home inspector.

Home Inspector Questions Buyers Should Ask

Buyers are right to learn as much about a property as possible. This includes visiting during different hours of the day and stopping by on different days of the week. Common home buying advice strongly encourages buyers to attend their home inspections. But you should do more than just hang around. This is a great opportunity to ask your home inspector these questions so you don’t have to follow-up later:

  • How serious is the extent of the problem? Some issues are minor and easy to understand. Others are more severe and complicated. For example, if an outdoor air conditioning and heating unit was replaced a few years ago but the air handler is an original install. This mismatch is cause for concern because freon types are different and some obsolete. You need to understand what the problem is and its extent.
  • If you were buying this home, what would you fix first? By asking this question, you are essentially asking what’s the biggest priority. As mentioned, very few properties are without any issues. The answer will tell you what is at the top of the list.
  • Will you please point out this specific issue so I know what it looks like? It’s simply not enough to see a line item on a home inspection report. You need to see it firsthand to appreciate what it is, where it is, and how it should be fixed.
  • I’m not really familiar with that — would you please show me how to work it? Chances are excellent you’ve been in a home and had difficulty operating a thermostat, a sprinkler system control panel, a swimming pool pump, or something else. If you encounter something unfamiliar, ask your home inspector to demonstrate how it works.
  • I’m (completely) unfamiliar with some of the terminology in your report. Would you explain it? Every industry has its own jargon. You’ll probably see nomenclature on the inspection report you don’t understand. So, ask your inspector what it means.

If you are considering buying a home here in Orlando, contact us for the latest market information. Together, we’ll find a house that best fits your wants and needs.