Angie's List: home inspections and walk-throughs

Most folks know when you are buying a home it is a good idea to get a home inspection.

However, it is also important to take a final walk-through before closing.
It is a decision that really hits home.

Bob Hintze, a home inspector, says, "A lot of the decision to buy a house is emotional. People buying the house are really excited about it. They don't tend to look at the details or they don't tend to look at how things work."

Angie Hicks, from Angie's List, says, "When buying a house, the home inspection is one of the most important things you are going to do because that is when you are going to bring a professional in and assess the condition of the house. But a lot of times the consumers skip out on going to the home inspection. What they then miss out on is learning about their home and seeing firsthand any problem areas."

An inspector will look at the structure of the home, the roof, the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems and determine if the home needs repairs and if there are any health or safety concerns.

Once the home inspection is complete, you are still not done.
Your next step before closing is a final walk-through with your real estate agent.

Angie Hicks says, "A final walk-through of the house you are buying might seem really simple but a lot of times is overlooked. It's important because you can then double check anything you ask for in your contract has been completed and also you can find out if there was any damage to the house when the seller moved out. It doesn't take a lot of time and it's really simple that can save you some headaches."

During a walk-through, you will go room by room with your real estate agent to make sure agreed-upon repairs have been made and that the home's condition has not changed since your last visit.

You will run through a checklist of sorts - testing appliances to make sure they work; running water to check for leaks.
If you discover any issues talk to your real estate agent about your options.

Kristie Smith, a real estate agent, says, "Certainly if a defect is so great that the buyer does not want to purchase the home there are rights. In most states, there is a sales disclosure process that the seller must commit to having the home in the same or better condition as when everyone signed that disclosure in the first place. That's usually signed at the time of contract."

It is the right strategy to make sure your new home is truly a home sweet home.
The walk-through is often times scheduled on the same day as the closing, but can also be scheduled the day before.

Depending on the size of the home, the process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated home inspectors and real estate agents to weigh in.

What is a home inspection?
· A home inspection is primarily intended to protect the prospective buyer from purchasing a home with structural defects and other major problems.
· An inspector will look at the structure, roof, heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical system and determine if the home needs repairs and if there are any health or safety concerns.
· A home inspection is highly recommended, though not required.
· The inspection usually costs a few hundred dollars (the cost will vary depending on the size and age of the home) and can take three or four hours.
· If possible, plan to be present at the inspection. Make sure to read the inspection report, which should be thorough and easy to understand. It should include narrative accounts of the inspector's findings, along with pictures and diagrams.
· Be aware, however, that an inspection is not a warranty and there's no guarantee it will find all problems with a property.
· Most reports will find some areas that need attention, but if the issues are major, you may want to use the report to renegotiate your original offer for the house.

What is a walk-through?
· A walk-through before closing is important because you are looking to see if the home is in the condition in which you agreed to buy it. It does not replace a home inspection.
· It's also a time to check if the seller made any repairs suggested during the home inspection and if you asked for any items to be removed.
· Schedule your walk-through after the sellers have moved out so you can determine if anything was damaged during the move.
· Go room by room. Turn on and off every light fixture. Run water and look under sinks for leaks. Flush toilets. Test all appliances included HVAC equipment. Open and close all windows.
· Takes about 30 minutes.
· If any last minute issues do occur, talk to your real estate agent about your options. You may be able to escrow money for the cost of the repairs or delay closing to correct the repair.
· A walk-through before closing is not required, but you should ask for one.

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