5 home inspection mistakes buyers and sellers make

home inspection in Snohomish County

A home inspection is an assessment of a home’s condition.  Home inspectors not only identify problems with houses, they can give buyers information that will help them with the upkeep.

“We want to teach them how to maintain the property because it’s the biggest investment they’ll ever make,” says Alden E. Gibson, a past president of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

If you’re getting a home inspection, here are five mistakes to avoid.

5 Inspection Mistakes to Avoid


Not researching the inspector

Too many buyers and sellers hire whoever is recommended to them without doing any research. The inspection is only as good as the inspector doing it, says Troy Bloxom, owner of Home Inspections Plus near Anchorage, Alaska, and past president of the National Association of Home Inspectors. You're looking for an inspector who can analyze the home's strengths and weaknesses and explain them.

You'll want to make sure they are licensed and insured and they should have pest control knowledge or ability to inform regarding rodents or pest issues.

Costs vary from inspector to inspector so if that is a concern, you can add this to your criteria.

You'll want to find an inspector who matches your schedule so that you can attend the inspection.

A few questions to ask:

• How long have you been inspecting homes?

• How many inspections have you done?

• What are your qualifications, certifications and training?

• What was your job before you were a home inspector? (Ideally, your pro was in contracting or building.)

You want a certified professional who stays current. “There’s a lot of stuff you have to know, and you want someone who’s keeping up with ongoing education,” says Kurt Mitenbuler, who is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and owns an inspection company in Evanston, Illinois.


Not attending the inspection

Being present for the inspection may not be mandatory, but it’s a smart idea.

Simply reading the inspection report isn’t enough to give most homeowners the full picture, Gibson says. “If they don’t see it, they don’t understand it.” If you're there, you'll get first-hand knowledge of issues and concerns from the inspector's perspective. A good inspector will focus on the more important issues and minimize the least important ones.

Gibson says he turns down dozens of inspections a year “because people can’t be there or don’t want to be there.”

The inspection might take an entire morning or afternoon, so set aside enough time. Some inspectors will sit with you afterward to explain things.

“Any home inspector who doesn’t let you follow him around? That’s weird. Ask me any question you want,” Mitenbuler says.


Not reading the inspection report

Too many buyers and sellers just glance at the inspection report.

You need someone who uses “clear, concise” language in person and in written reports, Mitenbuler says. He recommends scanning a few reports by checking the inspector’s website or asking for a sample report.

A knowledgeable pro will state simply what’s wrong with the house and what it will take to fix, Mitenbuler says.


Not prepping the home

Inspectors get annoyed when homeowners don’t prepare their houses for inspection.

“Don’t force the home inspector to empty the closet to get into the attic,” Mitenbuler says. Or have things piled in front of the electrical panel. Got a lock on a utility closet, basement or shed? The inspector needs access. So open it or provide keys.

For a seller, the best tack is to be at home to meet the inspector, introduce yourself, provide your mobile number — and then you can take off, Mitenbuler says.

To reduce the need for repeat inspections, hire professionals to do repairs, Bloxom says. Too many sellers will try DIY or get them done on the cheap. But poor workmanship will show up during the follow-up inspection, and could result in more repairs — and another inspection.


Not being flexible in repair negotiations

In negotiations for repair after the inspection, as a buyer, work with your realtor to determine what to ask for to be completed. Not every item raised on the report may need to be addressed.

Anything that would affect financing will need to be addressed. But other items can be negotiated. As a seller, you may want to have the repairs completed or, another option, is to provide the buyer a credit so that they can make the repairs after the sale is completed. Either way, both the buyer and seller will need to come to an agreement and sign off on what will be completed.