Needs some work...Ok, so this is something I have a lot of experience with, and I have no doubt any of my REALTOR friends will agree with me here.  If you’re in the market to buy a home, please read on and take to heart some of the things I have to say.

It’s pretty common knowledge that an integral part of any home purchase will include a Home Inspection (and if you’re looking in the country include a water and septic one as well, as a standard home inspection will not cover these items).  We have to remember, however, just what exactly this home inspection is FOR.  What it’s not for, is an easy out if you suddenly get cold feet, or a tool used to force a Seller into a lower price for deficiencies that were obvious during initial negotiations.  What it is is a vital tool used to help you, as the Buyer, to make an informed decision about the largest financial transaction you’re likely to ever make, and to provide you with an education about not only the house you wish to purchase, but about houses in general.

No house is perfect.  None.  I’ve seen newly built houses that a home inspector would find more flaws in than a century home.  That is something that you have to keep in mind when following your home inspector around.  When I show a home to a client, and I’m sure that most other REALTORS do the same, I will not only point out any feature benefit the home has, but I will also point out anything I see that would be considered a definciency.  I do this for a few reasons…first and foremost, it’s my job and I care.  At the same time though, I don’t like surprises, and I’m sure that you don’t either…these things are all going to come out during a home inspection, and if any of them are significant enough to deter a client from buying a home, why would I waste all of our time (and money!) if we can discover these things before we get to that point.  Finally, these are often things we can use to negotiate the best deal for you as a Buyer…which is something done BEFORE we get to the stage where we hire a home inspector.

So now I come to the part that really bothers me, and has brought me to write this in the first place.  Some home inspectors suck.  There, I’ve said it.  How unprofessional of me, eh?  Unfortuately, it’s true…what’s also true is that in order for someone to call themselves a “home inspector” in Ontario, there is no licence or requirements they need to hold.  They just need a sign and someone willing to pay them.  I’m not saying that holding several certificates inherently means that said person in better qualified…I know several people in construction or other trades that could do exactly the same as most inspectors, but it is nice to know that the person you hire has undergone training to do what they claim.

That being said, you have to very seriously watch what your home inspector says and how they say it.  Just recently I attended a home inspection where the inspector (I will not name names, but he did come from a credible company) went through the home and one of the things he told the first time home buyers was that the windows were broken and needed to be replaced.  Now the buyer is tallying up a bill to the tune of $15,000 or so.  This confused me, since the home wasn’t that old, and the windows looked (to me) to be in relatively good condition…so I asked why (a good habit to form for anyone!).  Ok, so it was explained to me that the cranks that open the windows were broken.  The cranks!  Can’t you fix that?  Replace just the cranks for the windows?  They were actually missing from most of the windows, so again, this couldn’t have been complete news to the buyers, but just the same, having a “home inspector” tell you that you need to replace all the windows seems kind of daunting, doesn’t it?  It turns out that yes, you can quite easily replace the cranks, and it goes to illustrate that what a home inspector finds and how he explains it can often be two completely different things, and can have very serious ramifications to both Sellers and Buyers.   If I was to dedicate a years worth of blogs, I could go over all the things I’ve heard home inspectors say, and how I’ve responded, but I’ll spare you.  Suffice it to say that I’ve learned some important things from GOOD home inspectors along with people I know in the specific trades related to each component of a home.

So what do you do?  Honestly, my advice is simple.  When it comes time to hire a home inspector, ask your REALTOR for a referral.  We deal with tons of these guys, and our job is to give you the best advice we can.  You want a home inspector that is very thorough and at the same time isn’t over zealous.  If a set of stairs is missing a hand railing, you’re not going to die next time you go down the stairs…just go down to the hardware store and get a new handrailing.  I have a very short list of home inspectors that I recommend, and you can be sure that if I’m putting my own name to them, they are good at what they do.

Remember WHY you’re hiring a home inspector.  It’s an information session.  There might be things that are revealed during it that could, in fact, make you think twice about buying the home.  There are things that might be revealed that puts you into a position where a re-negotiation is in order if the newly discovered items are serious enough…just remember, it’s often times more difficult to re-negotiate after a price has been settled on, and there’s always the element of risk of losing the deal entirely.

In conclusion, follow a few simple procedures:
1. Be as thorough as you can be during your visit to the home prior to placing an offer on it.
2. Hire the right home inspector! (I can’t stress this enough)
3. Remember that every home is going to have defects…many of which you’re going to find in every home see.

If you’re looking for a home, or need some advice concerning this vital stage of home buying, I’d be more than happy to speak with you.  In fact, I’d be thrilled to 🙂

Matt Johnston
Sales Representative
Re/Max Erie Shores Realty Inc. Brokerage
103 Queensway East, Simcoe
519-410-4454 (cell)
mjohnston2@remax.net

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