If you’re buying or selling a home in West Palm Beach, Florida, don’t let the home inspection be an afterthought. This important piece of the process will alert both parties of any major issue with the home and is used to negotiate a contingent offer.
Home Inspections 101
A home inspection is an important process of carefully inspecting the home by a licensed professional to find any hidden flaws, such as foundation issues, HVAC concerns, building code violations, and other major and expensive issues. This inspection doesn’t focus on things that are cosmetic, but instead significant investments and repairs.
The home inspector will check the roof, the structure, and the exterior of the home such as siding, insulation, ventilation, and electrical systems. Home inspections typically don’t check for things that are cosmetic such as peeling paint or stained carpets. Inspections also exclude swimming pools and outbuildings such as a barn or storage shed.
Timing of Home Inspections
In Florida, home inspections not required for most real estate transactions, but it’s highly recommended. In addition, the timing makes a difference for some people. Typically, the buyer pays for the home inspection after their offer is accepted. That offer is contingent on the home inspection, which means if something bad shows up, the buyer can withdraw or renegotiate the offer. Sometimes a buyer will negotiate that the seller pay for the home inspection, although that is less common.
A buyer may choose to ask and pay for a home inspection before making an offer. This trend is more common during a seller’s market when it’s more competitive to buy a home. If a buyer gets the home inspection before making an offer, then it’s more of an incentive for the seller to choose that buyer’s offer. In this case, the seller knows that the offer will stand because it’s not contingent on the home inspection.
Some sellers actually pay for a home inspection before they put their house on the market. Although they have to front the cash for this inspection, it sometimes saves a headache down the road. The seller now knows what might be wrong with the home and can fix the issue or adjust the selling price accordingly. This also helps the seller fulfill their state-mandated duty to disclose any conditions about the property that could have a big impact on its value. Basically, if a buyer can’t see easily see the problems for themselves, a seller in Florida has to disclose what’s wrong. This offers better protection for you, the buyer.
Although all parts of the home inspection are wise, your HVAC inspection shouldn’t be neglected. If the home inspection turns up an issue with the HVAC system, hire an independent HVAC contractor to check out the entire unit. Even if the home inspection doesn’t find anything negative, buyers may ask sellers for information about the system such as the date of installation, warranty information, heating and cooling bills, and maintenance or repairs performed on the system.
Warning signs of a faulty system might include frequent repairs, high utility bills, short cycling, and noise or smells coming from the system. Make sure these aren’t an issue with the HVAC system, and if they are, carefully consider your offer. You may want to require the seller to replace the system or negotiate a lower selling price. Also check that the warranty is valid and whether you will need to pay a transfer fee when you buy the house.
Although paying for an HVAC inspection is an added cost to consider when purchasing a home, it’s not something to neglect. The HVAC system is one of the biggest investments in the home. If you have any concerns at all about the system or if it’s aging, hire a contractor to check it out. That small investment could save you significant time and money in the future.
Image provided by Bigstock