What is a home inspection? Sounds intuitive enough, an inspection of a home. Right?

For the most part, yes. However, there is much more to a home inspection that just looking at a home.

Here in western Washington, we real estate brokers are members of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, NWMLS or MLS for short. As part of our membership, we have access to State generated contracts and forms which we call a Purchase & Sale Agreements.

In these contracts, a buyer can add addenda to cover many things with the most common being the Inspection Addendum to Purchase and Sale Agreement. Otherwise known as a Home Inspection or a Home Inspection Contingency. A buyer has to request the right to conduct one upfront in the Purchase & Sale.

That is where the home inspection addendum comes into play but more on that later.

The home inspection addendum allows a buyer(s) to hire independent party, a licensed and bonded home inspector, to assess the home's condition for informational purposes. A typical home inspection includes, but isn't limited too, a look at the home's systems and fixtures, electrical and circuit panels, plumbing, attic and crawl space, siding, and the roof.

It is also advised to attend the home inspection as to get first hand experience, hear information relating to the home's condition directly from the expert, and ask questions during the process. Home inspectors like to be a resource, just like us real estate agents, to their clients.

Most home inspectors these days provide a deliverable to the home buyer. The deliverable comes in report form that includes the inspector's notes, pictures and other pertinent information related to the home's inspection.

How Much Do Home Inspections Cost?

The inspection is a buyer expense and typically costs about $400 - cost is usually dictated by a home's square footage.

What's in a Home Inspection Contingency Addendum?

The home inspection contingency references the contract date, buyer and seller names, and the subject property.

Home Inspection Contingency

Item 1, if checked, states: the purchase and sale agreement is conditioned on the buyer's subject satisfaction with the properties inspection report, the elects to have the onsite sewer system inspected and scoped if wished, the buyer shall not alter the subject property during the inspection, and how many days the buyer has to complete the home inspection and provide a response to the seller.

Home Inspection Contingency

It is important to note that "This Agreement is conditioned on Buyer's subjective satisfaction with inspections of the property and the improvements of the Property". Subjective satisfaction.

A home doesn't simply pass or fail an inspection, that's a common misconception.

A house only passes or fails an inspection based on the buyer's comfort level of the information discovered. Everyone has different skill sets and comfort levels when tackling problems and/or the financial capabilities to remedy such problems within their financing program.

If the home inspector finds an item, like the roof, that they recommend a expert look at then the buyer shall have an additional 5 days to do so.

But ...

What if there is an item the buyer would like the seller to remedy?

The home inspection contingency accounts for such circumstances. The buyer can request seller to remedy items on the home inspection response form.

The seller then has 3 days to respond to the buyer's requests with a yes, no, maybe some items, or proposed alternative.

What is a Home Inspection For?

A home inspection is not a "hit-list" for the seller to give a buyer a new house. A home inspection is informational process for a buyer to determine the condition of the home on that given day. However, the home inspection contingency does allow for the request of repairs.

In a real world example: While representing the seller, the buyer requested to the have the hardwood floors refinished. After calming the seller down, we gracefully declined the buyer's request.

Many buyer's feel that they need to "ask' because "just-in-case" the seller says yes. Be careful what strategies that are borrowed from television because they don't always work.

What if Buyer & Seller Agree to All Requested Items?

Then the home inspection is deemed satisfied, the seller will complete the repairs prior to closing, and the loan officer will typically order the appraisal.

Additional Items in the Home Inspection Addendum

An advisory regarding on-site sewage disposal systems (septic systems), a neighborhood review contingency, a preinspection, and a waiver of inspection.

It is always advised to get a home inspection because its better to be safe than sorry upon discovering a costly repair.

Who Can Conduct a Home Inspection?

A licensed home inspector can. Here is Annie Fitzsimmons' from the Washington REALTORS Association on the matter.