Investing Basics

What a Great Home Inspector Can Teach You About Real Estate

What a Great Home Inspector Can Teach You About Real Estate
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As a real estate investor, you probably already know that you can’t live without a good home inspector. Even if you’ve only bought your own home, someone has to tell you when you’re potentially buying a mouldy or asbestos-filled lemon. The right home inspector understands why a home has been built the way it was, and whether anything inside or out will affect your real estate value.

Table of Contents - What a Great Home Inspector Can Teach You About Real Estate

In other words, you can’t afford to have a laissez-faire home inspector. In fact, if you’re new to the game, a good home inspector is worth every penny you pay them. Here’s why.

You’ll learn to spot potential issues

When you work with a really good home inspector—one who will let you talk to them about what they’re seeing, and why it’s a concern—you’ll start to understand the potential issues with a property before you make an offer. As you know, a home inspector’s job isn’t to decide whether something is a good deal. Their job is to tell you what kind of repairs and maintenance you need or should expect so that you can either ask the seller to make it happen—or so you can be prepared in the future.

A good home inspector will tell you what’s what with the building: that’s the baseline. Someone who goes above and beyond will tell you what you can expect to repair in the future. You can use that knowledge to look at other properties with a practiced eye.

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They can help shape your understanding of local properties

When you work with a really good home inspector, you don’t just get the benefit of their home inspection knowledge—although that’s still key. You also get the benefit of their general local knowledge. Are homes in this area prone to mould and mildew? Do they often see exterior trim rot or problems with attic and roof ventilation? Do foundations tend to shift and crack because they’re on a fault line? This is the sort of information you might be able to glean from books and articles, but nothing compares to real-world experience.

Working with a great home inspector ensures that you’ll go into a home sale with both eyes wide open. Whether you buy the home or run away screaming, they’ll let you know what’s to be expected from that particular area, versus what is unusual and needs to be fixed by either party. After all, they probably see a lot more local homes—in a more thorough way—than you do.

They can tell you what to expect from a specific property

Of course, the most important reason we hire home inspectors is that they’ll tell us what’s good—and bad—about a specific property. However, a great home inspector will tell you what’s currently okay but could present problems in the future.

For example, one thing home inspectors do is look at the property’s grading. The soil should always slope away from the foundation, and if it doesn’t, you’ll probably end up with a soggy basement. If you’ve got a soggy basement, that mould and mildew can travel up into your home and cause even more problems. You probably don’t know what to look for as a new real estate investor—but an experienced home inspector does.

A real estate inspector is going to tell you what’s wrong with the property, what’s right with the property and what you can expect in regular maintenance costs. If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know that doing your due diligence is the key to making a good investment. If there are code violations, structural issues or other problems that give your inspector pause, listen to them. Not only will it help you develop a critical real estate eye, but it could save you from a bad deal.

In other words, listen to them—they’re worth their weight in gold.

They can provide valuable network connections

Listen to your home inspector when they say something is an issue—they’re probably going to be right. Depending on local conventions and ethics, they might not be able to recommend a specific plumber, electrician or general contractor, let alone give you a ballpark figure on the cost, but they should be able to point you to some good resources.

A great home inspector should be part of your real estate investment toolbox. If they mention people they enjoy working with, take note: those could be the next people who help you secure a great deal, repair your property or otherwise enrich your investment experience.

Finding a great home inspector

To find a great home inspector, we always recommend working with your local network. If you already have a preferred real estate agent or broker, talk to them about who they like to work with. Contractors may also have valuable connections. Most importantly, if you have a local network of real estate investors, tap their collective knowledge for help. Many people are more than happy to drop the names of their favourite professionals.

Once you’ve identified a few potential home inspectors, do your due diligence as if you were researching a property. Look for their reviews—check for general patterns rather than a few five-stars or zero-star review outliers—and give them a call. Ask about their background, with whom they have worked in the past and if they have any specialties. Talk about fees.

Our best tip? Ask them if there’s anything you should know that you haven’t already asked. When you’re new to the game, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know—and a good home inspector might just give you some helpful information you weren’t inspecting.

Let your home inspector save you from making any big mistakes

Ultimately, your home inspector is just one factor in buying a piece of property—but since a sales contract often allows you to pull out at the last minute, they can save you from making a huge mistake. When you find a good home inspector, make it your job to learn from them—and then hold on to them for as long as possible.

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