Posted on August 22, 2017
Is It Necessary To Hire A Home Inspector Prior To Buying Or Selling A Home In California?
Home inspections should only be conducted by a qualified home inspector. There are many reputable home inspection services available throughout California. Professional Home Inspectors in Roseville, CA will carry credentials to prove that they have undergone special training for this task and to bring out their reliability for discovering any damaged, or in need of repair, areas inside or surrounding the house.
If you are looking into buying a home in California, or if you are considering putting up your property for sale, one of the most important things you need to do is to get a home inspection on the property. A home inspection is a non-invasive check into the condition of a property to highlight any areas which need repairing or which are badly damaged.
Inspectors will check every area of the home such as the roof, the basement, air conditioners, plumbing, electrical connections and any other area or fixture of the house which may be prone to breaking or failing. They will also examine the home from the point of view of improper building practices such as poor contracting services in the past, which could create problems after a purchase and show that the home may not be of good value for the asking price. Other important areas include looking into how well it is being maintained, regarding the age of the home, the life expectancy of fixtures, and finding out structural areas of the home which need extensive repairs.
After completing the inspection, the home inspector will issue an inspection report which details out all their findings. As a buyer, a home inspection Roseville CA report will tell you about the entire condition of the property that you wish to purchase. If you feel that some conditions need only nominal repairs, you can negotiate their repair fees with the seller.
On the other hand, if the conditions are pretty bad, the inspection could actually save you from buying a property which will require considerable expenditures for repairs after your purchase.
As a seller, getting a Roseville home inspection done before you put your property for sale lets you know on what needs to be done to improve property condition. You will have a better chance of getting the price you want on the sale of the home, rather than have buyers point out errors and then haggle for a reduced price, or insist that the repairs be completed at your expense.
What House Inspectors Look For
Buying a home, to most of us, is often an expensive, scary endeavor. Even for seasoned, experienced home-buyers, the process is typically not without some degree of trepidation and apprehension. Much of that apprehension has to do with the physical condition of the property...whether or not the house is in reasonably good condition...whether the house is really as good as it looks or is a money-pit just waiting to steal your money away in the form of unanticipated repairs and expenses.
Enter the Inspector...the guy, or gal, that will give the home a thorough assessment and report to you on its physical condition so that you can make an informed purchase decision. How are you going to effectively track down and choose a good, professional Inspector? Well, there are a few time-proven strategies:
You might ask your family, friends, and neighbors if they've had any really positive experience with any particular Home Inspector. If they have, they'll likely share that with you...and if they've had a bad experience, well, you'll probably learn about that. too.
You could ask your real estate agent for some referrals...but don't rely on a single recommendation. I suggest asking the agent who they might hire to insect a home if they were the buyer. Or who they think is the most picky inspector; that's the one you want to hire.
Do some on-line research...ask questions in local forums. Check out on-line reviews; if a company has a large number of legitimate and positive reviews, they might be a good potential candidate. But beware, as in other fields, some inspectors write their own reviews; you can usually tell which one those are and they should be avoided.
Some other general tips are:
Don't rely on the fact that an individual possesses a state license or local business permit as any proof whatsoever that they are either overly professional or at all competent...often, that means almost nothing.
Look for an individual that's affiliated with a prominent and leading national Home Inspector organization...one that maintains high entry and membership standards such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI); active membership in such an organization is, often, a good indication of a Home Inspectors commitment to professionalism.
Search for complaints against the Inspector and their company...Consult the Better Business Bureau to determine if the potential Home Inspector is an accredited member company and whether or not they have any unresolved complaints against them
Once you've narrowed your selection down to 3 -5 potential candidates, you need to contact each of those and ask them some direct, and pointed, questions. And here is where you don't want to shy or timid in your approach.
Please, will you talk to me? If a Home Inspector doesn't answer their phone or return your initial phone call in a timely manner, then move on. If an inspector can't, or won't, make and take time to answer you questions now, then there is good likelihood they can't, or won't, answer them later.
How good are you and how long have you been doing this? If an inspector doesn't exude confidence, move on. Likewise, if an inspector doesn't have a significant amount of experience under their belt, you might better keep searching. Everyone has to learn sometime...but maybe you don't want them gaining their basic experience on your home.
What kind of report will I receive?...Look for an answer that suggests a narrative style report...or at least a combination narrative/checklist type of report. What you need is a good Home Inspection report that clearly identifies any issues in readily understood language presented in complete and grammatically correct language.
How soon will I receive your report? Most professional Home Inspectors will provide their report to you, electronically, within 24 hours of the completion of the Home Inspection and this is what you should expect.Can I be there...with you? It's important that you be able to attend every moment of your Home Inspection should you desire to do so; the inspection should be a time during which you are able to learn about the house and to get your questions answered. An Inspector who discourages your presence should be avoided at all cost.
Following some basic guidelines, doing specific research, and asking some pointed question of potential Home Inspectors will go far in helping you find a good Home Inspector and, hopefully, a good experience with that Inspector.
What Should I Look for During A California Home Inspection?
You've heard the saying "There are no stupid questions." Well, that's as true for real estate agents as it is for anyone else. Agents should consider asking the simple but important questions listed below before referring inspectors (either home inspectors or home inspection companies) to their clients.
Referrals reflect the agent's own professional judgment and may affect the most important pipeline of potential future business. Moreover, agents are fiduciaries: they must put the client's interests above everything else, make the best possible recommendations, and avoid making an expedient or convenient choice when a better alternative may exist and should be evaluated for their clients. Referring your client to an inspector just because an office mate or friend says, "Oh, I've used them for years" is not necessarily the best strategy.
Consider the following simple questions each and every time you refer an inspector:
1. Know Your Inspector's Background, Experience, and Credentials
All agents should take into account an inspector's experience, including how many inspections they have performed, how long they have been in the business, and what certifications, licenses, and memberships they hold. Why? Because all inspectors are not created equal. Most inspectors are contractors, but many of the best are not. I've found that extensive training in the art of inspection or other code knowledge by far outweighs a contractor's license. A well-rounded inspector will be properly trained and well versed in all aspects of residential construction.
Although some states now require licensing for home inspectors, California doesn't. See California Business & Professions Code 7195 et seq. There are, however, professional organizations which require experience and training for membership. The two primary associations in California are the California Real Estate Inspection Association and the American Society of Home Inspectors. Consider referring an inspector who is affiliated with one of these organizations.
Don't overlook the inspector's relationship to his or her company. Is the inspector the owner or an employee? In my experience, owners of home-inspection businesses care deeply about their work and the reports they produce because they are concerned about potential liability and ongoing business. In some cases, an employee may not perform as well as an owner-operator because employees have less at stake.
2. Does Your Inspector Have Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance?
E&O insurance is an important consideration, as it may help resolve claims against the inspector for items they may have missed during the inspection after close of escrow. Inspectors are not required to carry E&O insurance, so there is currently no reliable data on the percentage of inspectors who actually are insured. I have heard that it is in the 50% range; i.e., one out of two inspectors is insured. Consider asking prospective inspectors for a current declarations page of their E&O policy. The declarations page will reveal whether the inspector has a "claims made" or per-occurrence policy and what the coverage limits and policy periods are.
Some agents even ask that the inspector include the agent's and broker's names as "additional insureds" on the policy. This added layer of protection for the agent and/or broker will also sometimes help resolve and settle potential claims which arise out of the referral. For instance, an agent may not have to pay his or her own carrier's deductible if a claim arises and both the inspector and agent are asked to participate in resolution of the claim.
An inspector without E&O may have a broad range of reasons for not carrying insurance. Whatever the reason, consider referring an inspector who has E&O to provide greater protection and value for your client.
3. Does Your Inspector Use An Inspection Agreement?
Today, most inspectors have their customers (your clients) sign inspection agreements prior to the inspection. These agreements detail the ground rules, the inspector's scope of work, and items outside that scope. I myself have reviewed hundreds of these agreements, and most of them are fair. However, some have clauses that attempt to circumvent statutory and current case law. Consider getting your clients a copy of the agreement well in advance of the inspection so that they have a chance to read, consider, and digest the terms before signing. If you or your client have questions about the terms, don't sign until you get the answers you need.
It's common for some inspectors to try and limit their monetary risk by stating that their total liability for negligence, errors, or omissions is limited to the cost of the inspection report. This maneuver is expressly prohibited by statute, but inspectors sometimes cleverly navigate around that fact by limiting their liability to two or three times the cost of the inspection. See California Business & Professions Code § 7196. Although there are as yet no appellate court decisions testing these type of clauses which tiptoe around the statutory limitation, it is imperative that agents know what the inspection agreements say so they can allow their clients plenty of time to digest this information and make a well-informed decision.
Another common tactic inspectors use to reduce their liability is a reduction in the statute of limitations to bring an action against an inspector. California Business & Professions Code § 7197 states that an action may not be brought against a home inspector four years after the date of the inspection; however, some inspectors' agreements attempt to reduce this time period to one or two years. This tactic was addressed in the California appellate court case of Moreno v. Sanchez (2000) 140 Cal.App.4th 1315, which held that notwithstanding a contractual device to reduce the time period allowed in 7197, the delayed-discovery rule prevents an inspector from contractually reducing the four-year statute of limitations if the defect, error, or omission by the inspector was found or identified and the claim brought within four years of the date of the inspection.
4. How Does Your Inspector Handle Callbacks?
Callbacks are a fact of life. The first call or email you receive from your client stating that the inspector you referred "missed something" will probably be a frightening moment in your career. It can be a lot less disconcerning if you know the inspector is a stand-up business person, has a procedure to deal with these situations, and has E&O insurance. Make sure you know the procedure that your inspector has in place to deal with this situation. A smooth and simple callback procedure can calm nerves and get any necessary repairs underway before tempers rise and attorneys are called in.
In an ideal world, your clients would never have any difficulties with the inspector you refer them to, but, as an agent, you know that a trouble-free transaction is a rarity. If you want to demonstrate and improve your professionalism, add significant value to the services you already provide your clients, and significantly reduce potential risks for your clients, yourself, and your broker, keep these issues in mind and get answers to these key questions before you recommend an inspector. Doing your homework in this regard will give you a certain peace of mind, as you can be confident that you are recommending a high-quality inspector based on due diligence and professionalism.