Contrary to what the title of my blog may imply, every buyer should get a home inspection… as the bare minimum! In the current Boise, ID market where a buyer is likely to pay top dollar as it is, the last thing a new homeowner deserves is a house they have to spend money on as soon as they move in. A good agent will always try to get the inspection money back at the very least; the inspector almost always finds $400 worth of repairs!
Unfortunately, it’s easy for a buyer to get caught up in the excitement of a buying a new house (especially for those who have made several offers) and decline to ask the seller for any concessions, but remember a seller cannot back out of a contract based on the repairs a buyer requests (they can certainly reject all buyers’ requests, but only the buyer has the right to terminate the contract in this case). Buyers should also remember that even minor things add up, so if the fixes are seemingly too little to ask the seller to repair, it never hurts to ask for a credit. Most sellers would gladly throw a few hundred dollars toward the buyer if it means they can move on with their life (e.g. closing).
Here’s what I mean by the “everything” inspection:
- If the home has a sprinkler system, get it looked at. Especially if the property has had upgraded landscaping, there may be severed or crimped lines. This could cost hundreds of dollars or more in irrigation line repair. Boise, ID has a dry climate and unique soil characteristics; going without efficient sprinklers for just a few days can cause a loss of plants!
- Inquire about the last time the dryer vent was cleaned. This is not a high priority for a homeowner; unless there was a problem, chances are the vent has never been cleaned. Companies that specialize in this can also tell you if the vent has rusted out from lack of cleaning (because the moisture builds up at clogs) or if the vent needs to be rerouted for better efficiency. Either of these issues should be presented to the seller.
- If the property has a lot of trees or shrubbery, call in an arborist. Removing trees is not cheap, and it’s not usually something a homeowner can DIY. All three properties I have owned have had at least one “bad” tree that needed removal. Either it was pest-ridden, cracked at the trunk, or leaning toward/planted too close to the house. Even if the plants on the property are all in good shape, if they look overgrown or need a good pruning (particularly if they are touching the house or hanging over the roof… Boise, ID is Firewise country!), this may indicate a lack of maintenance on the seller’s part and a future expense/hassle for a buyer.
- If the home is in a historic district (e.g., Boise’s North End), have the sewer line scoped. The materials we use for such infrastructure today are different than the materials we used a hundred years ago!
- If the home has had remodeling, ensure the correct permits were pulled. Often times your lender will take on this task, but they don’t always know when a renovation has been done. A savvy buyer will recognize even the less obvious improvements, and a good agent will know the right questions to ask.
Remember though, a lot of service providers will not provide estimates for free. Every company called out to look at the property could potentially charge a service call, which is why most buyers opt for a general home inspection and nothing else. However, some home inspectors aren’t that great; in Idaho, a home inspector doesn’t even need to be licensed or take continuing education (which means they may not be up-to-date on codes). In a perfect world where time and money don’t matter, there would be a home inspection TEAM, with a plumber, electrician, roofer, structural engineer, and Mike Holmes going through the house with a fine-tooth comb. Fortunately, an experienced REALTOR® will know the best home inspectors. And make sure you hire an agent who not only keeps an arsenal of good Boise, ID home inspectors but also attends the home inspection!