The home buying process can take time and involve quite a few steps. Finding the perfect property, from size to location to price range, is one major milestone. And once that’s done, initiating a home inspection is quite possibly the most important next step for every buyer.

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A home inspection, an expense of about $350 to $700 handled by the buyer, is conducted by a professional who evaluates the integrity of the home — from its structure to its HVAC system to its roof, electrical, plumbing and beyond from a visual perspective. Potential problems lurking under the surface can be costly down the road if a buyer goes in blind, which is why a home inspection is so valuable. 

Trevor Halpern is the No. 1 independent agent at Phoenix-based North&Co. and the founder of the Halpern Residential real estate group.

That said, home inspectors evaluate a home visually. They don’t have the ability to examine the foundation, for example, unless it is exposed. And they rely on other issues that may indicate a bigger problem with a system or structure that is unseen, such as uneven floors or walls. 

Often, when issues are flagged during a home inspection, it leads to a negotiation between the seller and the buyer regarding either a remedy for the problem before the close, a credit to the buyer in lieu of the repair, and/or an adjustment to the sale price. The home inspection is an added layer of information for the buyer, complementing the seller’s disclosure statement, which details any other past or present problems or issues with the home that the seller is aware of and that would be material to a buyer’s decision to purchase.

Buyers preparing for or reviewing the results of a home inspection should probably hone in on a few key components. 

Foundation + Roof. The foundation of a home is critical to its integrity, which is why an assessment of it is vital when considering a purchase. That said, it is common for foundations to settle and crack, but significant cracks should raise a red flag with a home inspector and a potential buyer. When it comes to the roof, lifespans can stretch to 25 years and beyond, but a home inspection should identify if any shingles are damaged or missing and if any leaks are present. 

HVAC + Ventilation. Air movement, coupled with heating and cooling, is essential for a comfortable and safe living environment. Home inspections should include an analysis of the property’s HVAC system, the condition of the cooling and heating units, a chimney check if needed and an assessment of the system’s air filters. Replacement of units can be costly, so a thorough evaluation of the state of the HVAC system is essential. 

Moisture + Water Damage. Checking for water damage, moisture or mold is also an important part of the home inspection process. Basements, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms should be evaluated for water stains and evidence of leaks. Cabinetry near plumbing should also be looked at to see if there is any evidence of exposure to excessive moisture or leaks.

Landscape + Outdoor space. The most important part of an inspection of landscaping, beyond understanding the work that it may entail to maintain or update the property’s current landscaping, is evaluating the drainage of water from the structure. Improperly graded landscaping will allow water to pool in places it shouldn’t, so ensuring proper drainage away from the home is critically important. 

If you’re considering a home purchase or sale, the team at Halpern Residential is ready to help. We keep an eye on market trends so you don’t have to. Moving or investing in real estate is an exciting time of transition, and we’re ready to help you with it. Contact us today so we can learn more about how we can support your needs.

Author: Trevor H. Halpern, J.D. is the #1 independent agent at Phoenix-based North&Co. and the CEO of Halpern Residential. As a Phoenix native, Halpern’s deep knowledge of both people and property has allowed him to create client success in all areas of town.