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When local lending manager Andrea Easter was searching for her first home, she put in an offer on a fixer upper. She already knew it needed a lot of work, but the home inspector found a surprise, approximately $25,000 of water damage in addition to her budgeted improvements.
“The homeowner was convinced our inspector was wrong and would not budge on repairs, so we walked away,” she says. “We found another house we loved that needed far less work.”
To protect buyers, North Carolina allows for a period of “due diligence”—a negotiable window of time between offer acceptance and closing that gives the buyer the right to investigate the property and have the home inspected.
It’s like test-driving a car or Googling a blind date. For about $400, buyers get some peace of mind before making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives. The inspector conducts a visual investigation from the crawlspace to the roof, examining the home and testing for functionality of systems, such as plumbing and electrical. With all the costs involved in buying a home, it can be tempting to skip the inspection, but that mistake could have serious repercussions after the sale.
“Unless you are purchasing a brand-new home, the buyer and seller can expect to see several line items for each category,” says Landin.
But some issues are more serious than others.
According to Garrett Daly, home inspector with HouseMaster, the most critical concerns are structural and foundation issues and water in all forms.
“A leak on the roof, rot and decay on the windows, or high moisture in the crawlspace,” he says. “Water can cause havoc to a home and cost the new homeowner a lot of money.”
“Moisture items can move from minor repair to a health concern,” agrees Dave Park of Advantage Inspection.
These issues can seem like insurmountable obstacles to buyers already paying for a down payment, lending fees and closing costs, among other expenses.
“Home inspection items that could potentially kill a deal are mold, termites and foundation damage,” says Dylan Hale, Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Go Realty.
“Last year we walked away from a house after the inspection,” says local Bethany Leszczewski. “There was mold in the basement due to water drainage issues that would require changing the grade of the yard.”
The sellers refused to negotiate, and the house later sold for less than Leszczewski had offered.
The home inspection is just the first step. Termite and radon inspections are usually recommended in this area, and buyers may want other types of investigations depending on the property; for example, an older home may require testing for asbestos or lead, especially if buyers want to renovate, while a home outside city limits will likely need septic, well and water quality inspections.
Your realtor should be able to recommend several inspectors they trust. Ask your neighbors whom they used, and check for reviews online. Also, ask the inspector if you are allowed to attend the inspection. Many welcome this interaction, as they can explain their findings and answer any questions you have about the home.
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