When to hire a home inspector?

Asked by Peter, Brooklyn, NY Sun Nov 25, 2012

Hi! We're about to make an offer for a house in Brooklyn, NY. The house is over 50 years old and we're wondering at what stage we should hire a home inspector to look at the property. Is this usually done before or after making an offer? Thank you

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Trevor Curran, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Great Neck, NY
Mon Nov 26, 2012
Good morning Peter,

For HomeBuyers in the New York Metropolitan Region: The Five Boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties, there's a tried and true method for purchasing a home. Because we use Attorneys here in the Downstate New York area, HomeBuyers benefit from very specific protections built in to this method.

While a HomeBuyer might make the Offer to buy a home in writing, until a Contract of Sale is signed in the presence of your attorney, the transaction isn't binding. Follow the tried and true method and don't let anyone influence you to vary from it; it's for your protection.

In a New York home purchase, the timeline goes like this:

1. HomeBuyer and Seller negotiate the Offer. Offer is best presented in writing. After much hand-wringing and back and forth negotiation, both parties agree on a price and terms of the sale.

2. Offer accepted

3. Contract of sale is prepared by Seller's Attorney and forwarded to Purchaser's attorney for review

4. Purchaser hires a Licensed Home Inspector (As per NYS regulations, ALL Home Inspectors must be Licensed). The Home Inspection is conducted PRIOR to signing contracts. If inspection reveals a problem with Foundation, Roof, Plumbing, Heating or Electrical, Purchaser's Attorney discusses with Seller's attorney to obtain satisfactory remedy PRIOR to contract signing. The remedy can be either a Seller repair or Seller credit to Purchaser at closing.

Since Home Inspection is done before contract is signed, the Purchaser has the opportunity to negotiate or walk away with no obligation to the Seller.

5. Contract Signing. Once all issues and concerns and terms of the Contract of Sale have been satisfactorily worked out by Purchaser's and Seller's attorneys---including any Home Inspection issues---the Purchaser meets with Attorney to sign the Contract and present an "Earnest Money Deposit." This is often misconstrued as the Down Payment.

In fact, this is money presented by the Purchaser for the Seller's attorney to hold in an escrow account until closing. This is often referred to as the "Good Faith Deposit" because it's the Purchaser's way of telling a Seller "I'm serious about buying your home and obtaining the mortgage financing to complete this purchase! Here's my money as a show of Good Faith."

6. Mortgage Application. Purchaser applies for and receives approval for the mortgage loan

7. Title Report. Purchaser's attorney orders a title inspection of public records to verify the Deed can be transferred from Seller to Purchaser with no liens, violations, or other encumbrances. Purchaser's Lender's attorney reviews the title inspection, or title report, to verify there are no objections on the Lender's behalf that would affect the closing of the mortgage loan.

8. Closing! Purchaser completes Down Payment, Mortgage Lender ponies up the rest of the cash, and Seller hands over the Deed and the Keys to the House!

9. Purchaser buys steaks for first Barbecue in their own backyard of their own home.

10. 30 years of Fixed Rate bliss because you own a Piece of the Rock!

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140
Mobile: 516-582-9181
Office: 516-829-2900
Fax: 516-829-2944
PowerHouse Solutions, Inc.
185 Great Neck Rd, Suite 240
Great Neck NY 11021
Licensed Mortgage Banker – NYS Dept. of Financial Services
1 vote
This is extremely helpful, thank you. I knew that a building inspection was an important step, but I didn't want to scare away the seller. It sounds like making an offer doesn't lock you into any contracts, so I could get an inspection set up afterwards. | http://jha.com.au
Flag Tue Jan 6, 2015
Rhonda Holt, Agent, New York, NY
Tue Dec 4, 2012
Well this can happen two ways if you plan to do an inspection.

First, the most popular way is to get an inspection after your offer is accepted by the seller and before you go into contract. This is okay as long as there aren't other buyers making offers on the house because doing it this way leaves the house available for anyone to step in and take it from under you since you're not in contract.

The second way, is to get your offer accepted and go into contract immediately. But when you go into contract you're going to make sure your lawyer states that your " contract is contingent upon an inspection. " That means the seller knows you will have an inspection and if there's to many problems with the home that cannot be negotiated and resolved with repair, replacement then you can back out. This method is good to use if you really want the house and maybe other buyers are showing interest and you want the seller to take it off the market immediately by going in contract.
1 vote
Mitchell Fel…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Mon Nov 26, 2012
Dear Peter:

In Brooklyn, it is traditional for the purchaser to have the inspector come in to inspect the house after the offer is negotiated and accepted by the seller, but prior to signing a legal contract of sale. Once you sign a contract of sale you are bound by the contract. In other words, the contract is NOT subject to an inspection, the inspection must be done first.

In a standard contract of sale ion Brooklyn, the premises is sold as-is, meaning that the condition it is in now is the condition you will get it in when you close. Hence, if something breaks in the house before the closing, the seller would have to fix it. If something was broken before the property is officially in contract, the seller would NOT be required to fix it because it was pre-existing so to speak. A standard contract of sale normally states that the seller will guarantee that the heat, water, hot water and electric are in working order and that the roof is free of leaks. These are standard clauses in a contract to protect the purchaser.

If I can be of further assistance please contact me direct. Good luck!

Mitchell S. Feldman
Associate Broker/ Director of Sales
Madison Estates & Properties, Inc.
Office: (718) 645-1665/ Cell: (917) 805-0783
Email: MitchellSFeldman@aol.com
1 vote
Charles Olson, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Sun Nov 25, 2012
You should hire a home inspector after your offer has been accepted to make sure that nothing is wrong with the place that could potentially lower the price that you feel the house is worth.

Make sure to check references if any inspector and make sure he is familiar with the type of home you are contemplating.

Good luck!
1 vote
Bill Gassett, Agent, Hopkinton, MA
Wed Feb 8, 2017
Typically home inspections are done after the seller has accepted your offer. Understanding how to pick a home inspector is one of the most important parts of a real estate transaction. So many people just pick anyone without any real criteria. This can end up costing you both in the short and long term if the inspector misses issues they shouldn't have. Take a look at the reference on how to go about picking a home inspector.
0 votes
Yuriy Goldst…, Other Pro, New York, NY
Wed Dec 10, 2014
You already got a lot of answers from the agents...They are right. Usually before the contract is signed. But can be after too...And I did check houses after the contract was signed. You attorney should put a special provision into the contract about the inspection so you can safely go away from the contract if something is really wrong with the house...

Yuriy Goldstein
NYC Licensed Home Inspector
0 votes
Caleb Hart, Renter, Orem, UT
Tue Nov 11, 2014
I also had to learn to ask a lot of questions while buying a home. Before I bought my first house, I figured that all houses were created equal. Now I know that is not the case. I really learned to make sure my inspector answered any and all my questions before I made a decision. http://taylormadeinspections.com/about
0 votes
Joseph Runfo…, Agent, Staten Island, NY
Sat Oct 11, 2014
Usually after your offer has been accepted, before you sign your contract.
0 votes
Eugene Dean, Home Buyer, Provo, UT
Sat Oct 11, 2014
You should hire a building inspector prior to purchasing any property. You want to make sure that there are no hidden problems before you make any commitments. Your real estate agent should be able to give you some advice on the specific time in the buying process.

0 votes
Gary Geer, Agent, Antioch, IL
Mon Nov 26, 2012
Usually a home inspection is done after an offer is accepted by the seller. Talk to your real estate agent or attorney about what is normal for your area.
0 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Mon Nov 26, 2012
You can hire a licensed inspector once you have an accepted offer, and before contract...unless your agent and or attorney advise otherwise...
0 votes
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