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Move-In Ready? Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

It’s not always possible for home buyers to have frank conversations with the seller of a home they like or the seller’s agent. That’s why a home inspector plays a key role in helping inform buyers about the condition of a home and its systems. Your home inspection and mandatory disclosures required in a sales contract will tell you a lot about a home’s condition. But if you have the chance to talk to the seller, you can learn a lot before your inspection begins – or they may educate you about the home’s issues. If an issue is new, for instance, it might be easier to repair than if it’s developed over time and has never before been addressed by the sellers.

Whether you talk to the seller or not, look to your inspector to help you flesh out the following questions:

  • Does the home have existing or prior issues with its structure, including cracks in basement floors, rotted joists, or cracks in walls due to settlement?
  • What is the approximate condition / age of the roof? Do you see any visible signs of leakage? What is the typical lifecycle of this material, and what type of maintenance is recommended?
  • What is the approximate condition / age of the the home’s heating and cooling systems?
  • What is the approximate condition / age of the electrical system? Has it been upgraded?
  • What is the approximate condition / age of the plumbing system? Do you see any visible signs of leakage?
  • Are there any visible safety issues and / or non-functional systems in the home?

If you’re a new buyer, and you’re concerned about the basic costs of home ownership, it’s not a bad idea to ask the sellers or their agent about the typical heat, water, electric and garbage bills so you can get a ballpark budget that forecasts the new expenses of owning; if you’re moving from a small home to a larger one, you may also want to review utility costs which can increase along with your home’s square footage.

If you’re buying a condo, be sure to ask sellers about any special assessments you’ll inherit and that you’ll have to pay in addition to your regular homeowners’ association dues. And request minutes from homeowners’ association meetings to see what topics are on the horizon: Are homeowners pondering a major renovation you’ll have to help fund? Are homeowners discussing restrictions on renting out the condo or what type of renovations or appliances you can use within your space?