The Ultimate Guide to A Home Inspection Before Buying

Chicago North Shore Jena Radnay July 20, 2023

Rolling hills, winding waterways, and the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Michigan make living in the North Shore so desirable. The area is rich in history and culture and has beautiful architecture to its name. Not only that, but these charming small towns are less than an hour from the city, which means living in the North Shore gives you the best of both worlds. From Evanston and Wilmette to Winnetka, Glencoe, and Highland Park, you have so much to look forward to if you’re planning your new life in this incredible area.

Are you thinking about buying a home in the North Shore? If so, you may have a few questions about home-buying, such as the process of inspections. Thankfully, expert broker Jena Radnay has the answers! This guide should clear up any concerns about the home inspection process.

What is a home inspection, and do I have to get one?

Before purchasing a home — not only in the North Shore real estate but anywhere — the buyer should get it inspected to make sure there are no unforeseen issues lurking in the shadows. Think of it as a checkup for the home.

Getting a home inspection before buying gives you peace of mind. Buying a home is expensive, and most buyers want to know if something is wrong before moving in. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing a few unexpected problems (and costs!).

If the buyer waives the inspection but later finds out there is a problem with the home's condition, it will be too late. There is no return policy in real estate.

How much do they cost?

The cost varies based on the home’s square footage, location, and the rates of that particular inspector. Typically, general home inspections run between $300 to $500. Other specialized inspections, like termite or mold inspections, can add $50 to $1,000 or more. However, you’ll find that the cost is worth it to ensure the property is in tip-top shape!

What is inspected in the process?

During the home inspection, a professional inspector will assess various features and components of the property, inside and out. The areas checked can vary, but here are some of the most common ones.

The inspector will evaluate each room of the home and the condition of the exterior (for example, the roof, windows, gutters, and doors) to be sure everything is in working order, aligned properly, and without the need for repair or replacement. They will also assess for any obvious foundation issues or other structural problems that can be quite costly to fix. If there is an attic, crawl space, or basement, the inspector will evaluate those areas as well.  They will also take a look at the property’s essential systems, such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.

It is important to note that while inspectors are very thorough, they cannot open up the walls to look inside, so the property may have hidden issues that will go undetected. In addition, some problems like termites, rodent infestations, and airborne contaminants are not part of a typical inspection. Buyers can pay for additional inspections done by specialists to check for these concerns.

What is the difference between an inspection and an appraisal?

A home inspection is optional and evaluates for problems with the home, such as faulty wiring or a loose window. An appraisal is different — it is the process of determining the home’s market value. Lenders often require an appraisal before approving a loan to ensure it is priced accurately for the market.

What is the home inspection contingency clause?

A contingency clause stipulates that specific conditions must be met for a contract to be legally binding. In the case of a home inspection, the contingency clause gives the potential buyer a specified amount of time to have the home inspected. If serious issues are found during the examination, the contingency clause provides the buyer a way out of the contract. In addition, your real estate agent will guide you through renegotiating with the seller to address any areas of concern revealed in the inspection report.

How do I find a home inspector?

Many buyers find a home inspector by asking for recommendations from their real estate agent, friends, or family. Others look for a trusted professional online. When seeking a home inspector, look for a certified inspector with a proven track record. Ask what items they check for and how long it will take for them to report their findings. You want to find an expert who is thorough, detailed, communicative, and aligned with your timeline.

What happens on the inspection day?

Potential buyers and their real estate agents usually attend the inspection. The homeowner (seller) is typically not present. Attending the inspection is a highly useful tip for the buyer, as the inspector can point out any areas that need to be addressed, and the buyer can ask questions about maintenance or repairs. It’s a great way to get an up-close-and-personal look at the features and amenities of the property!

The entire inspection process takes a few hours, depending on the size of the property and the scope of any issues found. The inspector takes pictures and notes along the way. While your inspector will be as thorough as possible, you may need to coordinate a specialized inspection for unique amenities like pools or other features.

Understanding the report

While the inspection report may seem daunting at first, do not fear — your agent is by your side. They will help you decipher each section of the report to ensure you have a solid understanding. Look at the summary page first for a quick overview. When evaluating the report, pay close attention to any safety concerns or those that will cost a lot of money to repair, such as issues with the roof, plumbing, or electrical system. The phrase “end of life” is often used to describe how much time the roof, water heater, or appliances have before they need to be replaced.

Review the issues and determine how serious they are and how expensive it will be to fix them. Your real estate agent will help you determine if any items on the inspection report are dealbreakers or if you want to negotiate further with the other party.

What if the inspection finds major problems?

If significant problems are revealed during the home inspection, the buyer must decide whether they still want to purchase the property. In addition, your real estate agent can ask if the seller is willing to remedy the situation by paying to fix the issues or lowering the list price. However, the seller is not obligated to do either one. The goal is for both parties to come to an agreement that each side is happy with.

Make the best decision

The North Shore real estate market is highly competitive, so you need an experienced agent to help you land the home of your dreams. Meet Jena Radnay, a trusted broker in luxury properties with vast experience in Chicago and the North Shore. She has a passion for real estate and helping others realize their goal of homeownership.

Whether you are buying, selling, or building a home, Jena has the knowledge and skills to help you succeed. When it comes to real estate, contacting Jena is one of the best decisions you can make. Before you jump into the market, reach out to Jena Radnay today.

*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

Work With Jena

Jena Radnay, and the focus of her real estate business, is all about people. Radnay’s love for real estate, houses, marketing, and people have allowed her business to grow organically, albeit explosively, in large part from referrals from her extensive network of contacts and connections.