Want a better deal? How a home inspection report benefits buyers
A professional home inspection report is especially valuable to first-time homebuyers who do not have a lot of property experience. It provides an independent, professional evaluation of the home’s condition before the buyer commits to the purchase.
With a home inspection report in hand, the buyer can then work with the seller to determine what repairs will be made, who pays for them and when they will be completed.
The inspection report can be a strong negotiating tool for buyers who can agree to finance the repairs in return for a reduction in the sales price. The report can also help buyers decide if they want to walk away from the sale because of the number or type of repairs needed.
Neglecting to make your offer to purchase conditional on a satisfactory home inspection report can have serious financial repercussions for the buyer if a home has hidden damage requiring costly repairs down the road.
In South Africa, the law mostly allows sellers of second-hand houses to sell the house voetstoots, or “as is”. This means that if the buyer does not employ a home inspector to determine its true condition, then the buyer has little practical recourse to come back later and ask the seller to pay for problems which only surface after the buyer moves in.
Without a professional inspection, the buyer can only rely on the things they, as laymen, can see that require repairs.
On the other hand, a trained and experienced inspector will look deeper and identify areas of the home that may present issues later, such as a dangerous geyser installation, an evaluation of any damp and crack issues, and problems with the roof covering and the roof structure.
If approved municipal plans are made available, the inspector will also be able to compare the “as built” structures with the approved plans. Remember that responsibility for illegal structures, or electrical or plumbing installations, passes to the new owner on transfer.
Home inspections are not the same as bank inspections. Bank valuators merely assess the lender’s risk in the event of foreclosure and enable the lender to estimate the value of the home.
A home inspection report is more thorough and will cover the condition of the structural components, exterior, roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating, insulation and ventilation, air conditioning, and interiors and exteriors (including ground drainage).
Purchasing a home is a big investment, so economising on a home inspection may not be in your best interest.
Who is John Graham?
John Graham is a South African who has spent more than 30 years in the property industry. He has hands-on experience as a developer, investor, estate agent, home builder and property inspector. John is the founder and CEO of HouseCheck (www.housecheck.co.za) and the principal of the SA Home Inspection Training Academy (www.sahita.co.za). He is the author of a number of popular eBooks including: The South African Home Buyer’s Guide; Quality Control for South African Home Building and The Complete Guide to South African Home Inspection.