Tips for Selecting & Inspecting Property
Top 5 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Broker
It can be confusing to sort through all the details involved in home buying, particularly the financial ones. A good real estate broker will:
- Help you learn about the neighborhood where you are considering living with information about the quality of schools, the number of children in the area, crime statistics for the neighborhood, traffic information and more
- Help you figure out how much you can afford and explain the different types of mortgages
- Save you hours of wasted time driving around to find properties for sale because real estate brokers have immediate access to homes as soon as they are put on the market
- Help you make an offer on a home
- Answer last-minute questions when you sign the final papers at closing
Take a Good Look
Don’t be fooled by new paint, clean carpet and pretty decor. Follow these tips when looking at homes to buy:
- Check out the age of the cooling system because it can cost thousands of dollars if it has to be replaced (which should reduce the offer you’re willing to make on the house).
- Look carefully for any signs of mold inside the home along baseboards as this can signal water is leaking in from the outside, and on the outside walls which can signal significant draining problems during South Florida’s typical heavy summer rains.
- Envision the house painted white, and focus on the age of appliances, check out the condition of the floors and look for any signs of mold or structural damage.
- Is the roof relatively new? What is the covering material (barrel tile, shingles or metal are common in South Florida). Does it look like it’s caving in – this could be a sign of major damage.
- It’s a major plus if the windows are newer, code-compliant impact resistant windows and/or have approved hurricane shutters. Not only will it save you on insurance premiums, it will also help lower heating and cooling bills.
Professional Home Inspections: What’s Included?
Prior to completing the purchase, a qualified and experienced inspector should check the safety of your potential new home, focusing on its structure, construction, and mechanical systems, and will make you aware of repairs that are needed. The inspector does not evaluate whether or not you’re getting good value for your money. Generally, an inspector checks and gives estimated prices for repairs of:
- Electrical systems
- Plumbing and waste disposal
- Water heater
- Insulation and ventilation
- A/C systems
- Potential presence of pests (such as termites)
- Structural elements including the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof
Consider including an inspection clause in your written offer when negotiating for the purchase of the home because this gives you an “out” from buying the house if serious problems are found, or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.
Inspection Experts: What to Look For
Follow these tips to find the right inspector who will deliver a report that is both accurate and detailed:
Start early – It can take time to find the right qualified, licensed and insured professional inspector. Start this process even before you find a home you want to buy.
Get an engineer – Since you want an inspector who knows a lot about a home’s diverse systems and structures, hire an inspector who is a licensed professional engineer, as indicated by the letters PE after their name. Search for PE’s on the website for the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (www.nabie.org).
Recommendations – Benworth can suggest professional inspectors for you to consider. Ask for recommendations from friends, family or neighbors. Search for quality home inspectors on the American Society of Home Inspectors (www.ASHI.org) and the National Association of Home Inspectors (www.NAHI.org) websites.
Background check – Find out if the inspector you’re considering has earned ASHI certification. Check an inspector’s license online at the Florida Department of Professional Regulation website (www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr).
Interview – Ask about their training, background, how long they’ve been in the business, how many inspections they’ve performed, how they conduct their inspections, what will be included in their computer-printed report, how long it takes for them to prepare the report and what they charge for their services.
Be insured – Make sure the inspector you hire has Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance specifically for conducting home inspections. This covers mistakes or home flaws an inspector may have overlooked. Inspectors who have E&O insurance are more able to pay any claims filed against them.