Who pays for the home inspection?

If it is a frenzied market where multiple bids are coming in and close of escrow dates are less than 30 days, then it is most likely the buyer who will purchase and complete the home inspection on the property.

If you are a seller and the market is slowing or becoming a buyers’ market you may choose to complete a home inspection ahead of time to determine where to set the price to be most competitive in comparison to the other hundreds of properties for sale in your neighborhood. It also helps to know about any “surprises” before you set your price and go on to the market.

Many argue that the buyer should order and pay for the home inspection because, “How can you trust the person the seller hired?” Considering the buyer can come back on the seller up to three years for not disclosing facts, it is highly unlikely the average professional home inspector would take a chance on being pulled into a lawsuit on any missed inspection point.

With that said, I will also offer some points for both sellers and buyers to think about when hiring an inspector. First, they should be a certified home inspector. There are maybe three organizations that offer certification. ASHI is the probably the toughest of the certification groups, requiring 250 home inspections, two written exams, and continuing education credits for their professionals. Check out who you hire and definitely ask about experience and time in the business.

Second, they can not inspect what they can not see. If the garage is packed full and behind all those boxes is a foundation crack that extends into the housing wall, it will be missed. The report will read, “Unable to inspect.” As a seller you should make areas as accessible as possible. As a buyer, read the report completely. Too many “Unable to inspect.” should raise a red flag.

Third, the age of the home and the maintenance history of the home are good indicators to whether or not a home inspection is warranted. When an owner demonstrates maintenance and/or records for repairs, recent replacement of key appliances, upgraded electrical or plumbing, appropriate landscaping for good drainage away from the foundation, and pest reports – you can get a good idea of how well the home was cared for over the years.

In the end, whether you are the seller trying to sell on Bay Area average $638,000 home or you are the buyer ready to buy that average $638,000 the $350 home inspection seems to one of the smallest items you will be negotiating. Talk it over with a Realtor, ask their advice but in the end you must be comfortable with the point you are negotiating. Contact me if you would like referrals for trusted home inspection professionals in the San Jose area.

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