From the moment you come to an agreement to purchase a new home, the clock starts ticking on that big to-do list. This article will help you navigate through the inspection period successfully.
- Inspect your home. Under no circumstances should you waive your right, in the time frame detailed in the purchase contract, to perform a full inspection on your new home. Do not let anyone dissuade you; even with the old "It's a new home with a warranty" ploy.
- Get a home inspector. Make sure that the inspector you hire is a licensed and bonded professional, preferably a member of a trade organization, with errors and omissions insurance. Ask for references and check them.
- Perform the inspection as soon as possible in the time frame allowed. Unforeseen conditions may require further inspections by a specialist in the area of the problem. For example, you may wish to consult a roofing contractor or a foundation expert if problems are discovered and the inspector deems further investigation would be prudent. Whilst extending the inspection period (which requires seller's permission) is not unheard of, it is better to start early and avoid that negotiation.
- Find out if you need a termite inspection. If a termite inspection is important to you, or is required by your lender, check to see if your inspector is affiliated with any licensed and bonded exterminator. In many areas this can save you a little money when you schedule the two inspections together. In some regions the two are completely separate. Check your local customs with your Realtor.
- Make sure you complete other areas of due diligence. In some areas of the country, Phoenix included, the inspection period is also the time frame in which to complete other areas of due diligence. In Arizona, the seller has to provide the buyer with an insurance claims history for the past five years. It is important as it may affect your ability to insure the property. Make sure you get it in a timely fashion. In Arizona, it is also the time to check whether you are in a flood zone. Also take the time to check with the city that all additions or modifications were permitted.
- Check out that septic. If your home is connected to a septic system, you will need to have the system tested and, maybe, pumped. Here in Phoenix, it is the responsibility of the seller to have the septic certified by a specialist for the new home owner. The dollar amount of repairs permitted, at owner's expense, may be limited by the purchase contract. Be aware of those limits and try to persuade the seller to complete the inspection as soon as possible, to avoid end of escrow hiccoughs.
- Make sure you plan ahead. Buying a home can be a stressful experience. By planning ahead, you can make the process go smoothly. Ask your Realtor to prepare a written timetable of the last date that a step must be completed (or do this yourself). Remember, that is the latest an action can be completed. Do everything as early as possible so that any unforeseen problems can be resolved with time to spare.
- Try to work it out. Finally, in the real world the seller wants to sell the home as much as you want to buy it. That is why you both agreed to a contract. Problems may arise that even the seller is unaware of. If you cancel the contract the seller will have to disclose the now-known defect to the next potential buyer (said buyer will likely discover it anyway during their inspection). So, it behooves all parties to work it out. The earlier you conclude your inspections, complete with written estimates and proposals for repairs, the more likely the chance of the seller giving in to your demands.
As always, remember, it's not personal, it's just business.