• The buyer, who hires and pays the inspector, should make sure the inspector is licensed. He or she should also read the seller’s disclosures and note any questions they have for the inspector.
• If possible, buyers should follow the inspector everywhere, including the roof and into the basement or crawlspace. However, buyers should understand that an inspector’s job is to note problems. He may not have all the answers, such as information about the cost of potential improvements.
• While the home listing agent advocates for the seller, the buyer’s Realtor should also take part in the inspection to help advise the buyer how to proceed if the inspector uncovers serious flaws.
• After the inspection, the buyer and his Realtor should examine the detailed inspection report and discuss the next step.
• Experts generally recommend that buyers not bring along a relative or friend who is a contractor. Since they’re not licensed property inspectors, contractors could raise unnecessary red flags that hamper the transaction.
Full inspection versus four-point inspection
For some older properties, mortgage lenders or insurers require a four-point inspection, which sounds as if it’s top of the line compared to, say, a one-point inspection that doesn’t actually exist. However, “four point” refers to the number of housing elements checked, not the quality of the inspection.
Since the cost of the four-point inspection is generally lower than a full inspection, some buyers cut corners to save money. However, they should understand what a four-point inspection does not cover.
In general, the elements covered in a four-point inspection are the ones that could cost a lot to repair should something go wrong shortly after a home purchase. They include: roofing, electrical work, heating-air conditioning systems and plumbing.
Other elements that can need repair in the early years of homeownership – such as appliances, hot water heaters, etc. – are not included in a four-point inspection.
© 2012 Florida Realtors®