Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.
So you’ve found your dream house or your forever home. The seller has accepted your offer, and you’re ready to move in at the end of the home buying process. But before you are handed keys to your new house and sign on the dotted line, you need to ensure your future larger home is in good working order or in perfect to excellent condition. It’s time for a home inspection in New York State. First thing’s first: what is a home inspection in NYC, and how much does a home inspection cost? It is when a licensed inspector comes into your soon-to-be–home with a home inspection checklist. This inspector searches for mechanical, structural, and electrical flaws. In other words, it represents an x-ray of the property. This inspection will point out defects.
But it’s not like you’re checking the foundation or zoning in on the ancient plumbing. Some of us may be DIYers, but most of us are not. Can you tell if the wiring of your lights is up to code?
That’s where a home inspection comes in. A licensed home inspector will look at your future home to find out if there are potential problems. He will inspect the foundation, structure, fixtures, plumbing, electricity, appliances, and more.
For example, the foundation may have cracks. The plumbing got too old, and the dishwasher busted. If the inspector discovers any problems, this is essential information to know.
You, the buyer, can negotiate with the seller to fix any issues. Alternatively, if the seller refuses or has too many problems to handle, you may opt out or rethink buying the home.
That’s why getting a professional home inspection is a critical step in the homebuying process. Without a home inspection, the buyer can’t make an informed decision to purchase a home.
A home inspection evaluates the structure of a house or townhouse, condo, or co-op. A certified home inspection professional performs the home inspection. His job is to reveal what’s not up to code in your house or what defects exist. This professional walks through the home to look for problem areas that may require your attention before moving in.
It’s inspection day. The home inspector generally focuses on a home’s major systems and components to see if any issues require immediate attention before you move in. The home inspector’s job doesn’t include uncovering every defect in the home.
They are more concerned with the more significant problems that make a home unsafe. An inspector will report that the air conditioning unit is too old and needs replacement, but they won’t report the peeling wallpaper or chipped paint on the walls.
Is a Home inspection in New York mandatory in NYC?
First, it is a small price to pay to avoid a nasty surprise you can encounter later. For example, some buyers will make their offers “contingent to inspections” given the cost of a home.
This means that if an inspection is not satisfactory, their offer no longer applies. However, most buyers will perform an inspection after they got an offer accepted. This is to quickly analyze the property before spending more time and money in the purchase process.
After examining the house’s interior and exterior, the home inspector will create an official report showing existing home defects. The report will list those items that are defective or hazardous to your health. He includes pictures as a visual aid. The inspector’s job is to provide you with a detailed home inspection report.
An inspector sends the report directly to you, most likely by email. You’re looking for what can raise your attention to potential hazards, damages, or issues so you can see where the problem areas are. If one of those things is missing, your inspector’s report remains incomplete.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to read the report back-to-back and with a scrupulous eye before you start to negotiate.
If there’s some technical jargon you don’t understand, the home inspector is there for you to respond to your questions and concerns. This is part of the inspector’s job. Plus, your real estate attorney should also have a good understanding of the report as it’s their job to help you negotiate your sales contract.
You can walk through the house during the inspection with your inspector. Home inspectors encourage buyers and their real estate agents to attend the inspection to discuss the findings in person and ask questions. Since a visual inspection will make things more straightforward for you, shadowing the inspector is always a good idea.
Once you understand the report, you’ll have more buying power. The results of an inspection can help you decide whether to move forward with your purchase and can also use these results as a bargaining tool with the seller. If the house has been well-maintained, you should proceed with closing on the home.
If it isn’t, you should become a savvy negotiator. You should use all the problem areas as leverage to bring down the house’s price through negotiations with the seller. Or you or your agent can convince the seller to fix all the components that are not in good working order, which can cost in the high thousands.
If it turns out that structural damage or a broken water heater gets very pricey to fix, the seller may not want to pay for the repairs and sell the home as-is.
And if it comes down to you who has to make these expensive repairs and you can’t afford them, you can choose to walk away from the deal without penalty. You can do that if there’s a home inspection contingency in your contract.
A home inspection contingency is a clause added to a real estate contract when a buyer offers a home. The offer to buy is contingent on the home inspection results. It means the prospective buyer can negotiate with the seller the repairs based on the inspection report results or cancel the sale outright.
The buyer pays for the home inspection. First-time buyers are sometimes surprised that they alone have to pay for a home inspection cost and that the seller is entirely not responsible. The buyer’s responsibility is to hire the inspector, make sure the inspections are finished promptly, and, of course, shoulder the cost.
How much does a home inspection cost? While fees can vary depending on a home’s location, size, and age, a home inspection costs an average of $300 to $900.
However, keep in mind what the inspector doesn’t test but needs to if you want your new house to be in tip-top shape. We’ll go over what’s excluded and tell you what specialist you need to hire.
Your real estate agent is your best bet. They have all the contacts and also represent your best interests. But make sure you use a certified home inspector since an inspection is an integral part of buying a home.
If friends or your agent don’t recommend an inspector, or if you want to research your own, use ASHI’s home inspector search tool or NACHI’s list of certified home inspectors. Using these organizations will allow you to gauge the inspector’s experience before calling them, thereby saving you time.
It’s important to note that there is no standard inspection report. A condo is different from a co-op, and a house is different from a townhouse. Since all possible dwellings are different, the inspector will give you a report that will reveal problem areas that another report doesn’t address.
If this is your first time buying a house and having an inspector examining it, you won’t know what an inspector inspects and what an inspector doesn’t inspect.
Inspections will vary. However, there are minimum standards of what an inspection entails. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) had outlined standards and a home inspection checklist that includes the condition of:
There is a consensus on what the inspector is hired to check. These include the following home inspection checklist:
A home inspection can tell you a lot about the house you’re planning to buy, but only if the house components are readily and easily accessible. If you don’t know what a home inspection excludes, you should check with the American Society of Home Inspectors to discover your area’s specific requirements. In New York City, the following are typically not included on a professional home inspection or examined only superficially.
In general, inspectors do not test any water from a municipal water system or a public well. A home inspector might do in your co-op to check the water pressure and the temperature to ensure the water heater works properly.
The inspector will not take water samples to have them tested for harmful microbes or toxic metals. But if you live in the suburbs or any rural area, the inspector will perform the testing,
Inspectors do not test radon, although it represents a high risk in many states. Radon is a naturally occurring carcinogenic gas emanating from radioactive materials like uranium from within the earth.
Depending on the type of structure, the roof may not get tested. Of course, if you live in an apartment building, you won’t have to worry about this. Inspectors only address structures with flat roofs that are not difficult to access. But in homes with pitched roofs are not typically checked even though they need the most attention.
In general, if the task puts the inspector in peril, then it is not tested. Since a pitched roof needs a safety harness and a ladder for inspection, you may have to hire a roof specialist. The only thing an inspector will inspect is visible issues from the ground and without a ladder. This will include visual and apparent damage or missing shingles.
Inspectors will inspect chimneys, but only on a basic level. That means all they can do is shine a flashlight up the chimney. They make sure there is no obstruction and that the damper switches are working.
Therefore, you need to hire a fireplace or chimney specialist to conduct a thorough inspection. This is an added cost, but if you use your fireplace regularly, you’ll need to hire the pros to inspect and clean it once a year or when necessary anyway.
You may have mold if there’s water damage or if the house lacks proper waterproofing in areas like the bathroom and kitchen where moist areas are prone to occur. Mold is another thing you need to test on your own. You shouldn’t opt out, as mold can cause many health issues for homeowners and their families.
In the past, builders used asbestos and lead for insulation in homes. Unfortunately, if your home dates back to the 1980s, you may have asbestos or lead-containing materials in your house.
Now that we know that asbestos and lead can affect your health, you should get your home tested. An inspector will not do it. You may have to shell out more money to do the testing.
Some home inspectors test for pests. But not all of them are licensed to do that. If so, you need to hire another professional if you don’t want to live with an infestation.
Pests include termites and flying beetles. If you see droppings, they may not be from mice but signs of wood-boring insects.
No law requires a buyer or a seller to conduct an inspection when purchasing or selling any home. However, a home inspection will give you a good picture of what you’re getting into. It’s important to consider all the hidden costs (i.e., the costs that an inspector doesn’t or can’t see) needed to repair, renovate, or replace any significant or minor structure.
That way, as suggested, you will have more negotiating power when you finalize the sales contract.
The buyer’s inspection should happen after the buyer makes an offer to a seller and accepts the terms. However, it happens before the sales contract is signed. Some home buyers choose to inspect the home after signing the contract.
But this is not advised as it can stretch out the in-contract term limit longer because further negotiations may become drawn out. This may also mean that attorneys need to redraft the sales contract.
Thus, it’s in your best interest for the inspection to get completed before the sales contract is signed so all major negotiations can happen before going into contract. But note here that you may need a second inspection if the seller has agreed to repair or renovate parts of the dwelling before closing.
Buying a home may represent the most expensive thing you’ll ever purchase in your lifetime. Thus, getting that home inspected should be a priority, no matter how many add-on professionals you’ll have to hire in addition to the certified home inspector. And in the end, it’s worth every penny to avoid costly problems that may arise after buying the home.
So what happens once you completed all inspections? Well, it’s closing time! After you received the inspector’s official report and took care of all the problems, this is when you can finally sign on the dotted line and become the new homeowner of a house.
The buyer typically schedules it. Prices vary (typically range between $300-$900), but this is not the place to go for the cheapest option. The inspection remains crucial to determining the unit’s condition, and a professional and reliable study becomes necessary—the best way to find someone remains through referrals and recommendations. In summary, get an inspector that’s licensed and qualified.
We recommend our clients to attend the inspection. Indeed, even though inspectors are professionals and will do their job correctly, they are not emotionally vested in the property. Therefore, they might overlook the details. Your presence will add value.
First, not a single apartment will be perfect. Therefore what’s crucial is to focus on red flags. However, it’s essential to differentiate between issues to fix and significant faults. You can discuss these major flaws with the seller to reduce the purchase price.
You can also address them before closing. They don’t necessarily mean the deal is off. When you are ready to start reviewing listings, you will now understand the benefits of a home inspection in NYC.