The next step is to professionally inspect the house. Your real estate agent will probably recommend a few good inspectors for you to hire, but the final decision is yours.

The purpose of the inspection is to:

  1. inspect the major systems in the house (heating, roof, electrical, plumbing, structural) to discover serious problems, and
  2. educate yourself about maintaining a home.

The inspection will take 1 1⁄2 to 3 1⁄2 hours and you should try to be present. The cost of the inspection is your responsibility (typically $200 – $400).

An inspection is NOT a warranty of anything and inspectors are not usually experts in any one area. If a major system in the home looks suspicious to the inspector, he may recommend further investigation on your part (e.g., a roof, electrical or furnace certification). It will be your decision to pay or not to pay for further inspections or certifications.

After the inspection, you have the right to ask the seller to fix major problems. Sometimes (depending on your financing), you can ask for an allowance to fix something yourself. The seller can agree to your request, counter back or reject your request. As long as you are reasonable, the inspection process does not have to be a difficult negotiation. Try not to overwhelm the seller with a laundry list of minor repairs.

REMEMBER, the purpose of the inspection is to identify serious problems. Leaky faucets, cracked tile, or ugly carpet are not items that should scare you away from purchasing a home, nor are they items that you should expect the seller to fix. Your real estate agent will help you through the inspection.

If you’ve made it through the inspection, breathe a sigh of relief. The hardest part may be over!