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Home Inspection Basics As A First Time Homebuyer September 17, 2009

Posted by minnesotarealty in MN Realty.
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You want to avoid any major surprises when you’re considering a new Minnesota home purchase so contracting with a professional home inspector can alleviate much of the stress and concerns about your prospective home early in the home buying process.

Then again, official home inspections are only required after an initial contract is signed. It would be better for you to gather your own information about the house you are eyeing. You can go straight to the seller and ask him or her everything about the house. You can also ask for permission to conduct your own mini-inspection.

Sellers typically allow prospective buyers to inspect their home before anyone enters into any agreement. Barron’s ‘Smart Consumer’s Guide to Home Buying’ advises homebuyers to use a checklist in taking note of any problems and issues in the earliest time possible. The book further explains, “If you are thinking about buying a house that will need renovation or upgrading, the more value will be derived from your mini-inspection.” The mini-inspection will ultimately give you a bargaining leverage when negotiating for the price of the home you are buying.

Create a checklist that you will use in your home inspection. This will help you in taking notes of the general condition and appearance of the house. Below are important issues to include in your notes:

The age of the house – You should know exactly when the house was built. Find out if there are any renovations or upgrades done and when these took place. Ask if blueprints, architect or engineer plans are available.

Check the foundation for potential problems – are there any large cracks or noticeable water problems around the home or in the basement? Ask about flooding issues and weather-related problems that have taken their toll on the home in different seasons.

Check the interior for defects and potential problems – you’ll want to make sure that all doors open and close easily and that all the walls are flat, even and free of cracks. Make a note of any visible cracks or deterioration and take pictures of anything that stands out. You’ll also want to check for mold problems, odors and make sure all water entry areas are clear and functioning properly.

Inspect the exterior of the house – Check if all windows and doors move smoothly and if these are properly insulated. Inspect the sidings of the house. Look for signs of deterioration.

Review heating and air conditioning appliances – ask about the average heating and cooling costs each month, and find out how long the systems have been in place. In some cases, you may need to invest in a new water heater or air conditioning system.

In addition to the written inspection report, you may consider taking pictures or short video clips using a digital camera/camcorder so you can review everything again in more detail at a later date. This extra footage or coverage may also give you an upper hand during the negotiation process with the seller.