Home inspections can make or break the purchase or sale of your home. Whether you’re buying or selling, the process will impact the outcome. Here are some things to include on your due diligence list.
- New York State’s Residential Agreement to Buy or Sell
In New York State, all licensed real estate agents are required to use a standard purchase agreement. That agreement includes provisions for homebuyer inspections. And, unless agreed to otherwise, the buyer can cancel the agreement during the inspection period if they are not satisfied with the property. It’s one of the many reasons why the home inspection process is so important.
- Hire a Licensed Home Inspector
Whether you are buying new construction or an existing home, I recommend that every homebuyer have their home inspected by a licensed home inspector. If you’re selling your home, you may want to consider getting it inspected before it’s listed so you can address repair items in advance. Minimum inspection standards are specified by the New York State Board of Home Inspectors and include the interior and exterior of the home; major systems such as heating, air condition, and plumbing; and, appliances. The home inspector will provide you with a detailed report of his or her findings, recommend additional input from licensed electricians, plumbers, or contractors if warranted, and provide suggestions on routine maintenance or areas requiring monitoring in the future. The cost of a home inspection typically varies with the size of the home, the type of foundation (e.g., pier and beam vs. slab foundation), and the number of heating and air conditioning systems. In our area, the cost of a home inspection is typically between $450 and $900. We have several recommended Home Inspectors in our area on our useful links page under the Great Service Providers section.
- Look for Wood Destroying Insects & Signs of Rodents
During the Inspection Period During the inspection period I also recommend that all homes be inspected for termites or other wood destroying insects. These pests are part of daily life in New York and are a common occurrence. Depending on the lender and the type of loan, you may also be required to provide a Wood Destroying Insect Report indicating that the home either does not have an active infestation or that the home has been treated by a licensed pest control company. Unless stated otherwise in the purchase agreement, the cost of a termite inspection is the responsibility of the buyer. These typically cost between $200 and $350, again, we have recommended companies to help with this under our Great Service Providers Section on our Links & Info tab.
- Radon Gas
During the inspection the inspector may suggest doing a Radon test. Radon is an inert gas & poses no danger, but radon decays to polonium & lead particles. These and later progeny are chemically very active as well as radioactive. When you breathe, these radioactive progeny lodge in your lungs, bronchi, and trachea. The radiation disrupts and mutates cells and can, eventually, result in lung cancer. Radon is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Its health risk increases with the length of exposure and concentration level of the radon. It is estimated that 15,800 people die each year as a direct result of Radon exposure, that is 43 people every single day. Should the level of Radon exceed the EPS standard level of concern and be over 4 picoCuries of radon per liter of air (4pCi/L) then a mitigation system will need to be installed.
There are several remedies for reducing radon concentrations in the home. The most widely used method is the “sub-slab depressurization” system. This involves the installation of pipes and fans. This system prevents radon gas from entering the home from below the concrete floor and the foundation. Radon reduction contractors may also use other methods depending upon the design of the home. In addition to the installation costs, there are also operating costs. Installation costs to lower radon levels can range from $750 to about $2500. Be sure the contractor is listed with the EPA’s Radon Contractor Proficiency Program. NYS has a comprehensive website explaining Radon, click here for more information.
- Check the FEMA Flood Maps
During the inspection period you should check to see if the home is in an area where lenders require flood insurance. The Board of Realtors provides Realtors with the latest flood map overlaps on the mapping tools made available to us in our Multiple Listing Service. But, it is always a good idea to check with your lender and insurance agent. If flood insurance is required, you may be required to have a flood elevation survey conducted. The cost of the survey typically runs between $250 and $400. The cost of the insurance varies with the value of the home, foundation elevation, and the type of coverage. As flood insurance ads to the monthly cost of home ownership, you will also want to check with your insurance agent on the types and cost of coverage.
- Other Surveys
Most homebuyers do not have a property survey conducted; it is not required by most lenders. However, there are times when a survey is good idea particularly if there are questions about the ownership of fences, shared driveways, or servitudes. Here, too, the cost typically runs between $250 and $400 but can vary greatly based on the size of the property.
GPS looks forward to helping you with this process as well as the many details that are part of a successful purchase or sale.