Step 17 to Buying a Home: Tips for Reading the Inspection Report

Step 17 to Buying a Home: Tips for Reading the Inspection Report

Once the inspection report comes back, you need to review it thoroughly. Don’t be surprised if it’s 30 + pages long with more than 25 “issues” that need to be repaired. This is typical. We’ve never seen an inspection report come in with zero repairs. However, there is a big difference between small, mainly cosmetic repairs such as needing to re-caulk a shower or repair a broken microwave handle and large issues such as a roof leak or sewer back up in the basement. Remember, the home inspection is an informational report for you, the buyer, not a to-do list for the seller.   We should only be concerned about structural issues, safety defects, or appliances/mechanicals not working.  Therefore, here are our tips for reading the inspection report:

  1. Pay particular attention to issues relating to the electrical, plumbing, roof, foundation, or water intrusion issues as these can be big ticket items to repair.
  2. If there are any big ticket items which are concerning to you, decide if you want to have additional inspections performed. For instance we can bring in a structural engineer, a sewer inspector, an electrician, a pest inspector, etc.  If you want to bring in additional inspectors, you’ll be responsible for paying their fees. 
  3. Make a list of items you feel the seller must repair or you’re not willing to go through with the transaction.  
  4. Make a second list of items you’d like the seller to repair or replace but would be willing to still close on the house without these items.. 
  5. Make a third list of the items you’re OK with taking care of yourself or don’t feel are important. 
  6. Once you’ve done this, email us your list and we’ll review it and suggest changes if you’re leaving out an expensive repair, not asking for enough, asking for too much, etc.
  7. Keep in mind that you can ask the sellers to repair items or to provide a credit for you to repair the items after closing.  Credits typically go towards closing costs. For instance, if we negotiate a $2,000 inspection credit, that amount would come directly off your closing costs.  Therefore, you’d bring to closing $2,000 less than originally expected.  That way, you have $2,000 to do any needed repairs after the closing.
  8. Remember that the things on the inspection report which are important are:
  1. Safety issues
  2. Structural issues
  3. Working components such as appliances which are not working.
  4. We should NOT be asking for paint to be touched up, the gutters to be swept out, etc. Unless you are buying new construction, no home is going to be perfect.  If you want a perfect home, buy new construction. If you aren’t buying new construction, then we need to accept the house with its cosmetic flaws or find a new house.  Remember, we are concerned with safety issues and things not working.

Once we’ve agreed on a strategy, we’ll negotiate the inspection repairs with the seller’s agent. If there are only a few minor issues which need to be fixed, the negotiation will probably go quickly. However, if contractors or trade people need to be brought in to give estimates, expect the inspection negotiations may take 3 – 7 days.

If we are able to come to an agreement with the sellers, both buyer and seller will need to sign an amendment reflecting the agreed upon terms. The repairs then need to be completed by the final walk through with receipts proving the work was done sent to us ahead of time. If we are not able to come to an agreement, you have the right to cancel the purchase agreement and get a refund of your earnest money.

Keep in mind, as part of the inspection negotiations, we can also ask the sellers to provide a home warranty for the first year.  Click here to read more about home warranties.  Let us know if you’d like us to ask the sellers to provide a home warranty as part of the inspection negotiations.

Questions?  Call us at (615) 618-9966 or email

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