Q: I am buying a two-bedroom, three-bathroom house. The seller and I can’t seem to agree upon the home inspection. He wants me to pay, however, I think it is the seller’s responsibility to have the home inspected.
Who pays for the inspection? Also, what is involved in the process?
Tom, Atlanta, GA
A: Tom, I’m going to be straight with you: you’re fighting an uphill battle. In almost every sale, the buyer pays for the home inspection, and I’d encourage you to follow suit.
It’s in your best interest to pay for and hire your own inspector — trust me. You’ll get to direct the inspection and have access to detailed information about the house you’re about to throw down for. As they say, knowledge is power.
Your agent should be able to help you enlist an expert inspector. You’ll want to make sure the inspector looks at the foundation, framing, roofing, site drainage, attic, plumbing, heating, electrical system, fireplaces, chimney, driveway, fence, windows, walls, ceilings, floors, appliances, deck, and patio (if you have one).
Yes, it’s an exhaustive list — especially to a first time buyer — but for a trained inspector, this is just another day at the office.
Now, if the inspector finds anything wrong with the house (which I assure you they will), you can try to negotiate the purchase price by factoring in the cost of repairs. Again, knowledge is power.
Before negotiating, however, know this: the seller is not legally obligated to make any repairs, unless the damage violates some sort of building code, state law, local ordinance, or real estate purchase contract. But unless you’re dealing with a real jerk, you should be able to find a compromise that will make everyone happy.
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