Objective of the home inspection
We all know that home inspections are an important step in the home-buying process. In most cases, they simply reveal small hidden issues that may not have been apparent during the buyer’s initial walk-through. The true objective of my home inspection is to educate the buyer, so they know more about the home and can make an informed decision. Every home inspection will find faults and/or blemishes in a home.
Balanacing the Deal
Sometimes there are bigger issues. At this point, our client has A LOT invested in this home. They’ve looked at hundreds of homes online and likely have toured a bunch with you, their realtor/broker. My harshest remarks are typically something like “recommend consulting a specialist and get a repair estimate” or “recommend repair or replacement before closing.” If they love this home, I want them to close on it. I’m very appreciative of the fact that the search is difficult.
Buyers, who often have reservations about the purchase anyway, will use those remarks as their reason to walk away from a potential purchase. It depends upon the buyer’s tolerance for making repairs and how much they love/like the home. Generally, Home Inspectors and Realtors will both agree that the following items are real issues and the buyer should proceed with caution.
Possible Deal Breakers
Every buyer has pretty much established wants and acceptable tolerances. One major deal breaker for most buyers is structural issues. These can include foundation problems, significant structural damage, or roof issues. These issues can be costly to repair and may not be feasible to fix. If a home has structural issues, buyers will often decide to move on and look for a different property, especially if you’re a first-time buyer, without extensive funds in reserve for a lengthy and costly repair. An issue like this is where I will recommend hiring a licensed structural engineer to provide more information.
Another potential deal breaker is the condition of the home's electrical, plumbing and sewer systems. It can be very costly to repair or replace a home with outdated or faulty electrical and plumbing or sewer systems. Many Chicago homes still have their original 100+ year-old galvanized steel supply pipes and clay sewer tiles in place and they’ve exceeded their expected service life. If a home inspection reveals issues with these systems, again I recommend engaging a qualified professional contractor to confirm the issue and provide a repair estimate.
Pest infestations can also be a deal breaker for many buyers. Termites, carpenter ants, and other pests can cause significant damage to a home (they can literally eat your home). If a home inspection reveals an infestation, again the buyers will often want the seller to have the issue treated before closing on the sale. If the seller is unwilling or unable to do so, buyers may choose to walk away from the sale.
Finally, a deal breaker can be an environmental issue (i.e. presence of radon gas, asbestos, lead paint or mold) in the home. These environmental issues can be dangerous to health and can be costly to remove. None of these issues can be visually identified with 100% certainty and require lab testing for absolute certainty. Again, if suspected, I always recommend hiring a qualified testing and remediation contractor to provide the buyer with more information.
In conclusion, home inspections are an important step in the home-buying process, as they can reveal potential issues that may not be apparent during a walk-through. However, if a home inspection reveals issues the buyer may choose to walk away from the purchase and start over. It's important for buyers to be aware of these potential issues before proceeding to the closing.