Should You Arrange a Professional Inspection Before Buying a Property?

Absolutely. If you think the property looks promising after visiting, you can conduct some additional background checks and read the seller's disclosure closely to learn more about the property. After that, arrange a professional check before closing the transaction.

The condition and remaining life of major building components such as roofs, driveways, and furnaces should be covered by this inspection. It should also include recommendations for required maintenance and repair. While you may not stumble upon a perfect rental, a professional inspection can help you know the property, identify problems before you buy, and decide whether or not to make an investment.

Tellus TIP:

When selecting a rental property, find out all the information you can. Gather data through your own observation, online searches, the home inspection, and consulting with the owners.

While arranging the professional inspection, we recommend you follow these rules:

  • Prepare for any inspection contingency: You should remember to add a contingency or exit clause to your purchase contract. That way, if you disagree with or would like to negotiate the results of a professional inspection, you are allowed to withdraw from the sale. You should also allow yourself plenty of time to check out the property and understand the inspection report; make sure you’ve included a timeframe in writing under the purchase contract. After the inspection report comes out, your real estate agent should be able to help you negotiate for repairs, a price reduction, a repair credit, or a way to quit the transaction.
Tellus TIP:

Remember never to sign the contract until you have completed all necessary and negotiated repairs. Once you sign and close, you will lose all your advantage and must chase the seller in an attempt to enforce any agreed terms. You should be firm and tell the seller that you will not sign until all repairs are completed.

  • Choose a professional inspector: The key to buying the right property is finding the right inspector. You should consider screening and selecting your candidates for your ideal inspector in advance. It’s good to get advice from other people like your real estate agent, but remember that after closing, you will be responsible for any property defects. That is why you should do your own research and try to get the most qualified, rigorous inspector. What you want is to get a report that gives you a complete understanding of the risks associated with this particular property. If your inspector is sloppy and fails to detect a major structural problem or even a combination of serious defects, you may be on the hook for repairs where the cost is way above the value of the property.
Tellus TIP:

Sometimes, a seller may give you a copy of an inspection report he or she arranged. You should treat this report as a great starting point. Nevertheless, you should always insist on conducting your own inspection, conducted by an inspector that you picked, and request that you be present when the inspection takes place.

Below are some key things you need to pay attention to when hiring a professional inspector:

  • State license: You will want to hire an inspector who meets the minimum requirements imposed by your state. Links to state by state requirements for professional inspectors, such as education, background, training, insurance, and licensing can be found on the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)’s website.

  • Qualifications: It’s not a bad idea to look for additional certifications, experience, education, background, and licenses. For example, membership in a professional organization for home inspectors is a good indicator of the inspector’s qualifications. Two of the most established organizations are:

  • Reputation and experience: As with any other industry, if an inspector has been working in the sector for a long time, you can probably see this as an indicator of their competency. Choosing an experienced inspector with a long record will help you avoid operators who are in this job just for a quick profit. It also ensures that the inspector has the necessary experience to spot a variety of problems and building issues. For the same reason, you can also choose an inspector who has inspected similar properties in your area.

  • Background in construction industry: If an inspector has a background in building or construction, this inspector will likely bring additional value because they understand how construction works and will know what to look for. This does not mean the inspector can see through the walls to find every tiny problem, but it is probably easier for an inspector with a construction background to spot potential issues and small defects that signal larger problems.

  • Ability to generate a good report: After the inspection is done, you will read the inspection report to understand all the problems that were spotted. Therefore, you should request a sample inspection report before hiring your inspector. If the inspector cannot convey their expertise into a high quality, understandable report, it will be hard for you to get the full benefit of the inspection. Some good indications of a good report are: no areas of the property are left out by the report, the reports are customized based on the specific property inspected, and photos and descriptions of problems are included.

  • Follow up with specialized inspections whenever needed: Sometimes, inspectors will recommend additional inspection by specialists. These may include a structural engineer to inspect the foundation, a pest/termite expert to check for pests, a roofing inspector, a chimney inspector, an energy auditor, an environmental firm (for mold, lead, or asbestos testing), or a licensed electrician or plumber. In this case, you should obtain the reports made by the specialists and deal with the issues identified by the specialists before you close the transaction.

However, you need to understand that home inspections are not without limits. Every home inspection report will contain specific caveats and exceptions. This is mainly because inspectors are only able to inspect what they can see. Inspectors generally will not move furniture, personal items, or debris to get a better look at an area. Some areas may be inaccessible or unsafe to inspect. Therefore, you should consider taking some extra steps, such as asking more questions, to remedy the potential blind spot. You can also decide to just walk away from the deal if you feel like you are not getting the full picture of the risks associated with the conditions of the property.

Tellus TIP:

In order to arrange for a professional inspection, you should include an inspection contingency in your purchase contract; find a professional inspector and follow up with specialized inspections.