Home Inspections 101

Home Inspections 101 By Laraine SchwartzThe process of buying a home is not yet as green as we would like --  i.e. not friendly to trees. At the end of the deal, hundreds of pages have been read, discussed, signed and filed.

In New Jersey, after both parties have signed the Contract of Sale and after the attorney review period has concluded, the buyer typically has 10 to 14 days to obtain a professional home inspection. It is strongly recommended that the buyer have a certified professional perform the inspection on the house, condo or co-op. The inspector will evaluate the structure with “a fine-tooth comb” to investigate if there are major or structural issues that need to be remedied. As a professional they will inspect deeper and more thoroughly than a layperson. Keep in mind:

  • The contract typically calls for a professional home inspection if the buyer wishes to present items to be remedied or repaired by the seller.
  • A layperson may not locate crucial defects.
  • If the buyer does not perform the inspection within the given timeframe, they may be waiving their right to inspection and remedy and be in a position of purchasing a problem-filled home.

Finding the Home Inspector

Oftentimes, the realtor is the best source to help the buyer find a home inspector - or the buyer can find one online with a good reputation in the community.

Once the day of inspection is set by the realtors it is encouraged that the buyer be present for the home inspection. The home inspector will reveal to the buyer, on most occasions, all that requires repair - even things that are more cosmetic in nature, but that will be the dream of the buyer for future fixes.

Most Real Estate Contracts in New Jersey clearly state that the property is sold “As Is.”

However, if the inspection indicates a major structural problem that requires repair or replacement, the buyer most times may (1) either cancel the contract if the seller is unwilling to repair; or (2) have the seller repair the issue in question; or (3) provide a credit to which both parties are in agreement.

The structural issues relate to the:

  • Roof
  • Heating systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Foundation and Structure
  • Major leaks
  • Mold
  • Asbestos
  • Termites or other infestation
  • If the property is a house, the buyer must also ascertain if there is an underground storage tank for oil, and if there are any leaks or soil contamination.

The inspector will provide the buyer with a brief summary and/or a detailed report after completion of the inspection to elucidate all of the problem areas. Only the major structural and effective systems are cause for concern and remedy by the seller.

Many home inspectors will include in their reports when boilers, hot water heaters, and roofs are at the end of their life expectancy. This provides valuable information of future expenses to the buyer but the seller is not obligated to replace the item if it is in working order.

Larraine Schwartz, Lobbying for Immigration Reform

Laraine E. Schwartz, Esq.
Winograd and Schwartz Attorneys at Law, PC

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