home inspectionHome inspection saved a disaster

A couple of weeks ago, during the mini buying frenzy here in the GTA, many buyers were under pressure to submit offers to purchase homes without any conditions attached. Sellers were pricing their homes low, in anticipation of receiving multi offers.

One of our clients resisted this pressure, listened to our advice and decided to order an inspection as part of his offer. The home was fifty years old in a desirable neighbourhood.

Overall, my guy made the highest, ‘cleanest’ offer, and the seller accepted this offer, and waited for this condition to be lifted to firm up the sale.

Thank goodness we did this, since the home inspector found all kinds of expensive bogey men in the house of his dreams – and the deal quickly died – with no major casualties on our side.

Why you may want a home inspection

When you are buying a home, it can sometimes be a good idea to have the home inspected by a knowledgeable and professional home inspector.

In fact, to avoid nasty surprises after you take possession of your home, you might include a clause in your Offer to Purchase which says your completing the transaction is subject to a home inspection – which will be carried out within a few days of you making your offer.

Yes it is an additional expense, generally in the range of $500, when funds may be tight, but it could save you grief and avoid a major mistake.

It does not mean if the inspector finds things which need attention that your purchase will automatically fall through, but you may decide to modify your offer based on your new found knowledge that certain things will have to be addressed after you move in. For example, maybe the roof or the windows will need to be replaced in a year or two.

Although some industry experts advocate an inspection under any circumstances, you may wish to consider it only if the house is not new or near new. Just like your car, a house will need maintenance from time to time – and the older it is, the more likely things will have to be done.

So people, be smart out there and don’t let your emotions dilute your common sense when making an offer to buy a home.

The following text is provided from CMHC’s website and is an excellent summary of the process.

The home inspector’s role is to inform you about the property’s condition. The home inspector will tell you if something is not working properly,  needs to be changed, or is unsafe. He or she will also tell you if repairs are needed, and maybe even where there were problems in the past.

A home inspection is a visual inspection. It should include a visual assessment of at least the following:

  • Foundation
  • Doors and windows
  • Roof and exterior walls
  • Attics
  • Plumbing and electrical systems (where visible)
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Ceilings, walls and floors
  • Insulation (where visible)
  • Ventilation
  • Septic tanks, wells or sewer lines (if inspector is qualified)
  • Any other buildings such as a detached garage
  • The lot, including drainage away from buildings, slopes and natural vegetation
  • Overall opinion of structural integrity of the buildings
  • Common areas (in the case of a condominium/strata or co-operative)

FINDING A HOME INSPECTOR

It’s important to hire a knowledgeable, experienced and competent home inspector. In most areas of Canada, there are no licensing or certification requirements for home inspectors. Anyone can say that they are a home inspector without having taken any courses, passed tests or even inspected houses. So look for a home inspector who belongs to a provincial or industry association holds an accreditation that demonstrates training and experience, provides inspection reports, carries insurance, provides references and has strong experience with the type of home to be inspected.

While CMHC does not recommend any individual home inspector or association, CMHC supports national standards of competency for home inspectors such as the home inspection industry’s voluntary and independent National Certification Program.

Home inspector fees are generally in the $500 range, depending on the size and condition of the home. Use the CMHC worksheet Home Inspection Checklist to review your home inspection report.

Related article: Buying a house in multi offer situation

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