Did you know as a homeowner you have the right to choose whatever home inspector you want? Many first time buyers and even long time buyers don't realize this. They simply agree to whatever home inspector their agent or escrow chooses but this could backfire. You want an independent inspector that has your best interest at heart, not someone in the agent's back pocket who's only goal is getting the deal closed.
When you buy a house you will typically have an inspection contingency to go along with the offer. This means that you want to check out the home with a professional inspector before agreeing to finalize the sale. If for any reason you don't like the inspection or don't agree with something you can cancel the sale altogether. You will typically get your earnest money back and move on to another home. This contingency is known as a general inspection contingency. This contingency is always recommended by your buyers agent but there are several different types of inspections that might be available to you such as a "Specific Inspection Contingency". This is much more limited. If the buyer finds a defect in the house the buyer will give the seller three days in which to agree to make the repairs. Once the seller responds, the buyer has two additional days to decide whether to accept it or to terminate the contract.
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Most contingencies are of the general variety. However, what a lot of buyers don't know is that they have the right to choose their own inspector. Of course your buyers agent will give you options, referrals and references on whom to choose but it is ultimately up to you whether or not you choose that real estate inspector.
The inspector is working for you, the buyer, not necessarily the seller or any agent involved. You want someone that is not going to be an alarmist, meaning they won't scare you out of buying the home, but they will honestly and un-piously talk to you about the home, any issues that might arise and how to repair them or best proceed in the real estate transaction. While they cannot give any legal advice or even real estate transaction advice, they can offer their own expert advice on the property itself and its integrity.
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You should always accompany the inspector when they tour the home. They will look at crawl spaces, foundation integrity, roof, attic, electrical, plumbing and make sure all the appliances work and make notes as to what may not be working and what could potentially be a hazardous issue. It is extremely important to pay attention as this is the ammunition you will need to go back to the seller asking for repairs, replacements, money off or if you choose to cancel the transaction.
The next time you need a home inspection it's perfectly fine to go with the buyers agents recommendations but understand that you have the authority to choose whomever you want.