Home inspections are a crucial part of the homebuying process – yes, even in a hot market like the one we’ve been in.
The purpose of a home inspection is to provide a buyer with a detailed report of the property’s condition, including any defects or potential problems, giving you the information you need to make an informed decision about your purchase. By identifying any issues that may exist, you could potentially negotiate with the seller to address them before finalizing the sale, or at the very least know what you’re getting into before signing on the dotted line! This can help you avoid costly surprises down the road and ensure that you’re investing in a property that will continue to be safe, sound, and in good condition.
We spoke with one of our favorite inspectors, Sidney Lucas of 360 Home Inspections, to get his perspective on trends he’s seeing in our market as well as provide an overview of the process.
What similarities or differences are you noticing in the number of home inspections performed now vs. a year ago?
We are seeing comparable numbers so far. The important thing to remember from the home inspection side is that we went from approx. 30% of buyers waiving inspections to very few waiving inspections. The biggest difference is the number of inspections that we are doing that involve repair requests. The majority of the inspections now involve some kind of repair negotiation whereas last year a large portion of inspections were for informational purposes only or “as is” inspections.[important note: since the time of this interview, the market has once again shifted to the experience of more as-is inspections or no inspection at all.]
What are you noticing in older homes vs newer homes during home inspections?
Due to low inventory, we are still seeing a lot of older homes with defects that would normally be repaired in a more balanced market. And as inflation continues to cause issues, we are seeing a lot of DIY repairs that aren’t quite up to proper standards. In new homes, we are seeing a lot “rushed” work that is leading to mistakes and oversights such as disconnected exhaust pipes for gas furnaces, fresh air intakes taped over, walls framed 3-4 inches out of square with the room, supply registers drywalled over, cut joists, etc. And all of this is also being found after the Certificate of Occupancy has been issued which means all county/city inspections have been completed.
Is there one often overlooked defect that you see regularly?
The most common defects found are a lack of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in resale homes. Other common defects are missing anti-tip devices on stoves, missing temperature/pressure relief (TPR) drain lines on water heaters, doors that do not latch/close, neutral wires doubled up in main electrical panels, and notched/cut joists.
What is your job when performing an inspection for an as-is sale? Do you know when you’re inspecting an as-is property?
Our job remains the same – regardless of whether the client can negotiate repairs or not, we approach each inspection the same way and that is to provide the most information we can about a property to the client so they can make an informed decision about the home. The only thing that changes is really how we discuss the findings with the client -we are discussing repairs they should be making vs what they should ask of the sellers.
What actually IS a walk-&-talk, and are you still doing those now?
Great question! A “walk and talk” is where the client may be considering waiving an inspection completely, meaning they will not even get an inspection for informational purposes, but they still want some level of information about a property. It is typically done during the initial showing of the property.
Since we typically only have 30 minutes on site AND we are limited as to what we can do (no bringing a ladder to access the attic, removing electrical panel cover, checking all water fixtures for leaks, etc.), we are obtaining ages of systems, checking the panel, droning the roof, checking as much of the foundation as we can, and seeing if anything major is evident. We will do a quick thermal scan while we walk around to see if any moisture is present.
It is important to remember that this is an extremely limited service, both in time and depth, and should not take the place of an actual home inspection, even if an inspection cannot be performed until after closing. Another important part of this is that we are not allowed to provide a written report or call it an “inspection” as determined by DPOR and the Board for Asbestos, Lead, and Home Inspectors.
We know that buyers are scared of the higher interest rates – are you finding that fear infiltrating the home inspection phase as well?
We definitely are. We are seeing clients more concerned about ages of systems, certain defects, and just the number of issues found in a home and are quicker to back out now than previously. Before, it seemed that clients were ok taking on more issues because of their need to actually get a house under contract, and the low interest rates allowed for a little more money for those projects after closing.
Now with home prices not only still up, but combined with higher interest rates, clients are less interested in taking on projects as they are already concerned about their monthly payments. Many clients feel that if they are paying “premium” prices for homes, they shouldn’t have to walk in with a list of issues to address.
If the seller isn’t willing to negotiate, clients are more inclined to walk away and start over than in the past few years–regardless of where they are in the process. We have seen deals fall apart on closing day as inspection repairs aren’t completed and clients just walk as they have less tolerance than in the past and are quicker to develop distrust, leading to “cold feet” and a willingness to back out.
As you can see, inspections are one of the most important parts of the homebuying process. When you work with Ruckart Real Estate, you will have experienced professionals by your side who will help you determine the best course of action based on your inspection results. We will ensure you have the information you need to make the right decision and advocate for your interests during negotiations. Ready to start your own homebuying journey? Have questions or want to learn more? Contact us today and let’s get started!