What to look for in a Home Inspector
When Buying a New Home
Moving into a home should be a time of excitement, a time of planning for the future, and a time of joy.
Yet for some home buyers — first-time and veterans alike — what should be a dream come true turns into a nightmare.
There are a few things that you, the homebuyer, can do to prevent the nightmare from ever happening in the first place. And there are laws in place for your protection, too — because, while there are many reputable agents and inspectors out there, as in any business, there are also those who are interested only in increasing their bottom line at your expense.
To start with, hire a reputable, licensed, independent home inspector.
What to look for when hiring a Home Inspector
- Is the inspector a member of a national organization? For instance, ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) , http://www.homeinspector.org/ and NAHI (the National Association of Home Inspectors),http://www.nahi.org/home-inspector-search/ or IHINA (Independent Home Inspectors of North America), http://www.independentinspectors.org/ or InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). ASHI and NAHI are generally recognized as the predominant sources of home inspectors.
- Is the inspector a member of the Better Business Bureau? Have there been any unsatisfied complaints filed about the inspector?
- Ensure that your inspector carries “errors and omissions” insurance, and ensure that there is a clause in your contract calling for binding arbitration. Essentially, this guarantees that if the inspector misses something, you can hold him or her liable for it, and the inspector’s insurance will pay to have the problem fixed — without the expense of litigation.
- Check out your inspector’s credentials. That can include asking for references, double-checking the inspector’s qualifications, and finding out how long the inspector’s been in business. If an inspector isn’t willing to share that information, find another.
- Find the inspector yourself. Do not rely on the real estate agent (or homeowner) to recommend one — and do not let the agent tell you whom you can — or cannot — hire. According to the PA Home Inspection Law, it is illegal for the inspector to accept or deliver any type of “kickback” to the real estate agent or seller. It’s also illegal for the inspector to be employed by the agent or seller:
A home inspector, the employer of a home inspector, or any business or person that controls or has a financial interest in the employer of a home inspector, may not: (1) Perform or offer to perform for an additional fee repairs to a structure for which the home inspector or the employer of the home inspector prepared a home inspection report within the preceding 12 months. (2) Inspect for a fee any property in which the home inspector or the employer of the home inspector has any financial interest or any interest in the transfer of the property, unless the financial interest is disclosed in writing to the buyer before the home inspection is performed and the buyer acknowledges this disclosure in writing. (3) Offer or deliver any compensation or reward to the seller of the inspected property or to an agent for either or both the seller and the buyer for the referral of any business to the home inspector or the employer of the home inspector. (4) Accept an engagement to perform a home inspection or to prepare a home inspection report in which the employment itself or the fee payable for the inspection is contingent upon the conclusions of the report, pre-established or prescribed findings or the closing of the transaction.
The following information, from the IHINA website, further clarifies the law: http://www.independentinspectors.org/conflictofinterest.html
If a real estate agent tells you that you cannot use an inspector of your choosing, or insists that you use one of their “recommended” or “approved” inspectors, you should contact your attorney. (You should also wonder why they don’t want you using an independent inspector of your choosing.) A real estate broker or sales agent who tries to get you to use an inspector of the agent’s choice is trying to control the home inspector selection process. Prospective home buyers must keep in mind that real estate agents who receive a commission from the property seller, are working in the best interest of their client, (the seller.)
Next time, we’ll talk about the types of things a home inspector should look for — and what you, as a homebuyer, should be aware of when having a home inspected.
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This is the first part of a multi-part article, stay tuned for more.
Read the article Home Inspection Part II.