Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Time Homebuyer's Guide To Self Inspections

All homebuyers are prone to overlook major problems during the buying process only to be surprised by them once they have already paid for the MN property. You can consider hiring a professional home inspector even before signing any contract to avoid any regrets and stress after buying a property.

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.

Most sellers will be open to having you inspect the home well before signing any type of contract, and this gives you some leverage when you are negotiating the final price. Barron's 'Smart Consumer's Guide to Home Buying' encourages all prospective homebuyers to prepare a checklist and note any problems and areas of concern as early as possible. The authors of the book explain that, "If you are thinking about buying a house that will need renovation or upgrading, the more value will be derived from your mini-inspection."

You need a checklist in inspecting the house to ensure that you cover all important aspects that you need to look at. The information you gather from this checklist can then be used to create a written report to help you in assessing the overall condition of the house. Here are some important matters to include in your checklist:

Know the age of the house - Know the exact date when the house was built. You must also check if there are any renovations or upgrades done on the home, when they took place and if the house's blueprints are still 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.

Look at all your notes and create a written report about the condition of the house you just inspected. You may also consider using a digital camera or camcorder to take pictures and videos for a more detailed review in the future. This additional effort may give you an advantage over the seller come negotiation time.