Perhaps you are saving, repairing your credit, or simply forging through the grueling offer battles the greater Seattle market can put you through as a homebuyer. You might be eager to find ways to get all your ducks in a row while you hurry up and wait for your new home.
One thing you can do, that I haven’t heard recommended before, is scout out a good home inspector. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you might not know that once under contract on your new home, you will select and hire the home inspector. Your realtor may advise someone, and they are a great person to start with because agents help clients through this step every day. But ultimately, this is your job and its one you can think ahead to right now.
Truthfully, my husband and I haven’t been thrilled with all of the inspectors we’ve used. Our first two homes we went with one company and found them adequate. Our third home, we wanted to try someone new. We found them safely, underwhelming when the report came. This isn’t to scare you away, but it is one of those moments I made a mental checkpoint – “tell friends in future to think ahead about the inspector!”
In fact, I spent a little time asking myself how we could have done a better job. My first idea – we could have asked our friends. In our mid-thirties, we are surrounded by friends buying homes and we could have reached out to half a dozen easily to say, “hey who did you use?” Call us old-fashioned, but we are both still big proponents of in-person referrals from those we know. Sure, the next step will be to check their online reviews, but that’s not where we start if we can help it. To be fully transparent, we got a short list from our realtor, we heard a friend had used one of them – my husband may have even been able to look over the report that friend received, and then we went with that inspector. He’d been great on our friend’s home purchase. They even were able to negotiate down a few items, they said.
My husband had asked the home inspector to send over a couple samples of reports – he did this same step with another home inspector I believe. If not, he used our old report binder as a reference of comparison. My husband is a smart guy. He felt the inspector seemed thorough-enough. After all, we were in a hurry and couldn’t be waiting around to receive samples from too many.
We scheduled. Then, we asked if we could be present at the inspection. Then, true to our habit, we ran late. The inspector had asked we only arrive at the end, and he wrapped up much earlier than the window he had reserved for himself so when we pulled up 15 minutes after the time he said it was safe to arrive – he was gone. Lesson: don’t be late!
Our realtor was there and she had been able to ask a few questions – some we wouldn’t have thought of ourselves. (Just one more reason to work with a great realtor!)
Other lesson? Don’t schedule on a rainy day if you can help it. The conditions were deemed dangerous on our one-story roof, so he walked around the lawn and glanced up to tell us about the chimney, roof, etc. “Looks good.” This is typical. He apparently also climbed into the attic to view it from underneath, looking for signs of water damage.
To recap – here are FOUR THINGS to do for a home inspection – and now is a great time to get started and be in control of your homebuying journey:
- Ask your realtor for referrals
- Ask your friends if they liked their home inspector and if they’d be open to sharing the report with you as an example.
- Be on time!
- Don’t schedule on a rainy day.
Inspectors are trained to spot signs of trouble, and they can be an absolute hero. Truth be told, our house probably is just in overall good condition, so there wasn’t a ton to catch. But when one of his main comments was “nice view” we rolled our eyes. And we’ve since rolled our eyes every time a new issue pops up – but that’s a different list, one I’ll share soon (what you should look out for as you walk through a potential new home as a buyer).
If you are just getting started on this journey to homeownership, feel free to reach out with questions. Things are hot in Washington state markets, and the more you can educate yourself at the start the more you can feel in control and ensure you make good decisions along the way. We are here to help you and answer your questions.