Purchasing a home is an undeniably emotional experience exacerbated by the fact that for most people, sellers are not just selling a house but their home, a haven in which they’ve spent time with their families filling the walls with memories. Alternatively, buyers are not just buying a place to sleep in and put their stuff, they are fulfilling their dreams and investing in their future. This emotional side of home-buying can quickly breed conflict in the transaction. Enter the home inspector, who can look at the property in question with an objective and experienced eye and let the buyers and sellers know, without attachment, what needs to be fixed before the sale is complete.
As our homes are usually our most expensive investment, this is a highly valuable skill and should be treated as such. It is of great importance to select a reliable, trustworthy home inspector with experience and better yet, a good word of-mouth reputation.
In the state of Tennessee, home inspection is regulated and requires a home inspector license that must be renewed every two years. To receive a license, the candidate must pass the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE) and present proof of 90 hours of required pre-licensed qualifying work as part of a state-approved course. In order to obtain a license, the candidate must also have a high school diploma or GED. In other words, you can’t just buy a home inspector license off the Internet.
With that said, it’s still a good idea to seek a recommendation before choosing your home inspector. Reach out and ask around to see who has worked with which home inspectors and who has had good, or maybe not so good, experiences.
Consider this situation:
A seller listed their home and after the sale occurred, the buyers presented them with a list indicating a few items to be repaired, one of which was servicing and repairing or, if need be, replacing the HVAC unit.
The sellers had a friend of a friend service the unit at a much reduced fee of $50. After cleaning the coils, the friend of a friend declared the unit sound. Perfect! Right? There was a walk through and the house closed, done and done.
Fast forward two days. The buyers’ agent places a call to the sellers’ agent. They’d found something wrong with the HVAC unit, had hired a company to inspect it and the verdict was that the unit needed to be repaired at a cost of $400 or the problem would continue. The claim from the buyers to the sellers was that the sellers did not do what they said they would do on the repair list. It became even more litigious when the buyers had a lawyer draft a letter stating that the sellers needed to pay the $400 or face legal action.
Moving is not cheap for either party. Moreover, the sellers did not want the buyers to think they had shirked their responsibility. The sellers gave the buyers’ agent the number of the friend of the friend technician who had looked at the unit originally.
The friend of the friend denied ever having serviced the HVAC.
At the end of the day, not even the sellers’ copy of the by-now deposited $50 check they’d given the HVAC technician was enough to prove their side. They paid the $400 just to get the situation over with.
What if the sellers had hired an HVAC service technician at full price? What if the buyers’ home inspector had taken a closer look at the HVAC during the walk through? The entire situation added a level of emotional stress as well as additional cost to the already epic event of purchasing a home.
The only thing certain in purchasing a home is that it will be fraught with uncertainties. It’s invaluable to have dedicated, experienced professionals on your side. Whether it be agents, inspectors or technicians, save yourself money, time and trouble by making sure they are licensed and insured, as well as asking around for recommendations or verification of reputation. Word-of-mouth is the best way to get the real skinny on who’s who in the market. Kristin Hood