Whether buying a house, a car, a new refrigerator, or a pair of shoes, a buyer should know what they’re buying. In fact, in some industries, there are strict guidelines and laws which dictate what information must be disclosed when making a purchase: for example, think of window stickers on new cars, which break down pricing. When it comes to real estate, much of the transparency falls upon the buyer: and for that reason, home inspections are a key part of the home buying process. For the vast majority, a home is the largest purchase they’ll ever make, often with a long-term commitment spanning several decades. Because of this, a home inspection is key to help ensure the property is what is seems.

As Is” – Two words that might worry some buyers who are unfamiliar with pre-purchase inspections, but they’re just a routine part of buying and selling real estate. If you want to worry less about “as is” and focus more on closing, you’ll need to start by finding a reputable, professional home inspector. Your real estate professional should serve as a good resource as they have many trusted contacts in the industry. You’re putting a lot of trust into a home inspector, so don’t skip the due diligence as you search for, vet, and interview them before hiring. Once you’ve found your inspector, you’ll need to arrange for the actual inspection. This comprehensive investigation will cover all major home systems, such as heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing. Your inspector will also closely examine the home for signs of water or pest intrusion, determine the condition of your roof and foundation, and take note of any cosmetic shortcomings throughout the property.

A good inspector will provide a detailed report of their findings and recommendations. Depending on the size of the home, you can expect a lengthy review of these details, and often also include the inspector’s expected costs for repairs and replacements of crucial shortcomings. Often buyers can be shocked at the number of issues uncovered during an inspection, and may even wonder if they should walk away. Most of the time, this is unnecessary; even the best maintained home will have plenty of things to review, most of which are more a “Honey Do” list than a deal breaker.

So, what are the deal breakers? Keep an eye out for major red flags. Most agents agree that the main things to focus on are the fire, health, and safety sections: such as missing fire flues or smoke detectors, and unsafe electrical hazards or firewall breaches. Also check for evidence of foundation cracks, water intrusion, and roof leaks. For those buyers willing to invest time and money into repairs, renovations and even remodels, there may not be any deal breakers on the list. For those who have stretched their finances in order to buy the house, major projects may be unfortunate deal breakers as you will likely exceed your budget. In either case, you’ll want to use these findings as a way to negotiate with the sellers- you might just find out that they didn’t know just how much work their home needed, and be willing to go down on the price.

Most home inspections create a list of deferred maintenance and minor repairs. Working with their agent, a home buyer can narrow the list of requests to the essentials and tackle the others once they move in.