Choosing An Inspector
The way it typically works in Texas is that any offer you make on a home will include an unconditional right to terminate the contract for a given period of time (generally seven to ten days). This is called the "option period."
The primary purpose of the option period is to allow you to get whatever inspections done that will give you the confidence to move forward with the purchase.
You certainly ask your Realtor for recommendations - but expect to get a list in response. Most agents want to avoid any appearance of collusion in this process.
Do your own research. In today's Internet age, you can find out a lot of information about just anyone offering a professional service. Probably the two most important things to look for are:
- Is the inspector licensed (in Texas, licensing is by the Texas Real Estate Commission); and
- Is the inspector insured?
Their website should provide this information. When in doubt, ask. If the prospective inspector is hesitant, at all, about providing answers, just move on. Quickly. There are lots of other choices.
Once You Have an Inspector, Then What?
The inspector will schedule an appointment for the inspection with the seller's agent. Your agent will let you know when it will take place.
The inspection will take about three hours, give or take. If possible, meet the inspector at the property - at least for the last part of the inspection. While you'll receive a written report, being able to walk through the home with the inspector and have him point things out to you is invaluable.
A professional inspector knows where to look. He'll get on the roof; he'll go under the house into the crawlspace (if your house is pier-and-beam construction, of course.) He'll go into the attic. And he's trained to detect signs of problems, both existing and potential.
The inspection report will detail all of the systems of your home - plumbing, electrical, foundation, roof, structure, HVAC, kitchen appliances, and more. Most will have photographs and test results.
So, What Good is a Report?
Like the old saying goes: knowledge is power. It's also peace of mind.
At the extremes, a glowing inspection report can completely set your mind at ease about the purchase and a horrible one can allow you to avoid getting trapped in a money pit. The truth is that most reports - even on newly constructed properties (more on that subject in a minute) fall somewhere in between.
No matter what, knowing what the problems are puts you in the position to make choices.
Can the situation be repaired? If so, how much will it cost?
Is the seller willing to reduce the price of the house to offset the cost of repair? Or, perhaps, make the repair before closing?
Your realtor likely has had clients in the same or similar situations many times and can help guide you through this process. (
Another reason buyers need an agent!)