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Sheila Gallagher

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The 15 Most Common Mistakes Buyers Make 

For most of us, buying a home is the single biggest financial transaction we will make. It's exciting and fulfilling, but it can also be overwhelming, even downright frightening. The pitfalls are many but fortunately most are commonplace and we can tell you how to avoid them.

Real estate agents, bankers, lawyers, accountants and other experts in the real-estate game each have their own lists of the worst mistakes a buyer can make. Here's a look at some of the common mistakes made by home buyers (especially first time buyers).

Mistake #1. Confused Buyers - Don't start looking before you figure out what you are looking for! There may be a big difference between the kind of home you want and the kind of home you need. To avoid wasting time, causing yourself and your real-estate agent frustration, and running the risk of regretting your choice later, realize that it's important to satisfy the needs first and the wants last. In the long run, the greatest view in the world is not likely to make up for not having enough bedrooms.

Mistake #2. Shortsighted Buyers - Don't forget to factor in your FUTURE NEEDS! What will you need in 5 years, or 10? Try to estimate your future needs as well as your immediate needs. Buying a home now that's big enough to accommodate a larger family, a home-based business or in-laws joining the family may be a better financial move than having to find a larger place in just a few years.

Mistake #3. Unrealistic Buyers - Figure out how much you can afford to pay BEFORE you start looking. Determine what you can realistically afford to pay for a home, remembering that there is a myriad of costs that you probably haven't even considered. (See our Special Report on Buyers Costs) Factor in mortgage insurance, appraisal fees, inspection fees, transfer taxes, lawyer fees, state, provincial and federal taxes. Get financial advice from as many sources as possible.

Mistake #4. Unapproved Buyers - Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Show me the money! Many sellers want to know that you can really afford the home before they will take your offer seriously. You can go through the application process for a mortgage and have financing in place before you even start looking. Being pre-approved lets you (and the seller) know exactly what your price range is. This may make it possible to negotiate a better price or terms because the seller won't need to wait to see if you qualify for a loan.

Mistake #5. Cash Poor Buyers - You may not be as cash poor as you think you are! Consider every possible source of cash - do you have insurance policies or retirement saving plans that can be used for buying a home? Look into the rules thoroughly even if you think you aren't eligible; your banker or your real estate agent may not be aware of all the loopholes either. While many retirement plans limit dipping in to first-time homebuyers, the definition of a first¬time buyer may simply be someone who hasn't owned a home in the past five years.

Mistake #6. Bank Bound Buyers - Don't take "NO" from the bank as your final answer! Shop around for the best mortgage. Most of us think "bank" when we think mortgage, but there are many other lenders and they all have various terms and repayment options, such as bi¬monthly, even weekly payments, rather than monthly, or a floating interest rate rather than locked-in. There are alternatives to the traditional 30-year mortgage, check around.

Mistake #7. Uninformed buyers - Be familiar with the real estate market so you don't PAY TOO MUCH! There's lots of information available on the local & national housing situation; check the Internet, attend seminars offered by real estate professionals or check out books and magazines. Ask your Buyer's Agent for a market survey of homes in your price range, including the asking and selling prices of comparable homes that have recently sold. This is how you make sure you're paying a fair price for your home.

Mistake #8. Do-It-Yourself Buyers - Get your own real estate agent! Most of us think of a real estate agent as representing the seller, which they usually do. But having your own agent to help you buy a home can save you time and money. A good buyers agent can help you find the right home quickly because they know the area and have access to listings, agent open houses and other information. Your buyers agent can advise you on market conditions and appropriate prices, pre-inspect homes for you so you don't waste time on something completely unsuitable and recommend the other professionals you need from home inspectors to lawyers. The sellers agent has a legal responsibility to act in their best interest, not yours. You need a trained professional in your corner, and that's a Buyers Agent.

It is essential to communicate exactly what your needs are to your Buyers Agent, so you are both looking for the same home. Choose your agent with as much care as if you were selling a home and if he wants you enter into a formal agreement, make sure it includes a cancellation clause in case you aren't satisfied with the service.

Mistake # 9. Un-represented Buyers - Have your own lawyer! Your agent's job is to find you a home, not give you legal advice. Keep in mind that your agent is usually paid only after you purchase a home and their fee often comes out of the proceeds; think about it. Your lawyer's only job is to look out for your best interests. A written agreement to purchase a home binds you legally to its provisions. Before you sign anything, your lawyer can review the agreement and advise you of changes, clauses or contingencies that they feel are necessary. You are not obliged to use a lawyer recommended by either your agent or your lender.

Mistake # 10. Sloppy Buyers - Have the house professionally inspected. In your agreement with the sellers, one of the conditions should be a favorable report from a house inspector. To find a good inspector, ask for recommendations, then make sure the inspector is certified (the home-inspection industry is not licensed or regulated). Ask how many inspections they have performed and what kind of report is provided to you (you might confirm how long it will take to get the report). Also ask if you can be present during the inspection. If they say no, find someone else.

The inspector's job is to check the property and tell you what defects need to be repaired or replaced. Based on his report, you might want to walk away from the property or negotiate with the seller for repairs or an allowance for repairs. In most jurisdictions, sellers are required to make complete disclosure of defects in writing. Make sure you have this disclosure and so does your inspector.

Mistake # 11. Buyers Who Don't Do Their Homework - Check the zoning of the surrounding area and find out about restrictions, conditions and covenants governing the subdivision. The best surprise is no surprise when it means a shopping mall or an airport planned for just behind the home you are considering. Similarly, you want to know if the subdivision has covenants barring you from making changes such as additions to your home or determining the color you can paint it.

If you are looking at condominiums or a strata-titled development, ask to see the bylaws put in place by the board of directors. You may find rules with which you will uncomfortable living, such as restrictions on visits by the grandchildren in some adult-oriented complexes. A Buyers Agent would be a big help here!

Mistake # 12. The Emotional Buyer - Keep your emotions under control. Here are five emotional mistakes first-time home buyers often make:
1. Love Hurts - Falling in love with a home. As discussed at the top of this article, the buyer has to reconcile dreams with realities. It's often difficult to look at the pros and cons of a home rationally if you let yourself become too emotional about a particular property. Beware of real estate agents trying to play on your emotions to encourage you to say yes. Never buy the first home you see without looking at some others.
2. Keep Control - Losing control of the situation is frustrating and can lead to imprudent decisions. Don't let yourself be swayed or sidetracked by an assertive agent or by undue advice from family or friends (they don't have to live there, you do!). Personality clashes with agents, mortgage broker or others with whom you are trying to work can also be upsetting.
3. Decisions, Decisions - Not being able to make a decision. If you can't decide about anything from budgets to what kind of house you want then maybe you aren't ready to commit to home ownership. If you're simply worried that something better will come along after you've made your offer, remember that there's more than one home out there with your name on it. Take the time you need to make a sound decision, but don't be afraid to commit to a new home purchase.
4. What are you getting into? - Not realizing the responsibilities of home ownership. It's great to own your own home, but it takes time and commitment to maintain this large investment. Make sure you are prepared.
5. Is it the right time? - Buying before you are ready. If you are suffering cold feet over becoming a homeowner, sit down and take stock of the situation. Examine your motives for thinking you should take this giant step, looking at what it will mean to your lifestyle and budget. Talk it over with your financial counselor, your real estate agent and your mortgage professional. Remember that there are two million first-time buyers a year and most of them felt the same trepidation as you. Most of them are happily taking on their exciting new challenge.

Mistake #13. Location -Location - Location! Did we mention location? Location is the key. The value of your home is affected by those around you. The home may be perfect, but look carefully at the neighborhood too. No home is an island (usually) and the value is affected by the homes that surround it. Factors determining the best location include:

  • Surrounding homes - the condition of other homes, including buildings and grounds.
  • Size Matters - the relative size of your potential home compared to the others. A small home surrounded by large ones may have taxes disproportionately high because of the neighborhood.
  • Placement - the outer edge of an area is less desirable than being in the middle, surrounded by similar homes, except if the property borders woods, a park or other open space such as a golf course.
  • Best Buy - the least expensive home in the best area or in an area in transition is a best buy. You can buy low now to sell high later.

Mistake #14. Screwing Up The Offer - It's not over once you've found the house you want. Now you have to make an offer. Some common mistakes at this stage include:

  • Low-balling - New buyers often offer too little or want too many concessions from the seller. That can alienate the seller, with the result that he simply rejects the offer without even a counter.
  • Paying too much - Avoid bidding wars at all costs. Sometimes the threat of another buyer is simply a ploy to scare you into upping your offer. Even if there is another buyer, don't play the game. Whoever eventually "wins" will be the loser because the price will be too high. In case there isn't another buyer, let the seller know you'll be interested if the "deal falls through."
  • Being afraid to negotiate - Most of us hate to haggle, but negotiation is the key to the best deal. Know your bottom line and be prepared to walk away if you can't meet it. Knowing as much as possible about the seller's situation, including his time frame, is an enormous help (a Buyers Agent can be very helpful here). Likewise, try to keep information about your own financial situation to yourself; the seller will be looking for information about you that they can use to their advantage during negotiations.
  • Being pressured into a quick deal - Don't let the seller's side pressure you to a quick close. It could be a sign that something's not right. If the property has been on the market for a long time, there's probably no rush. Remember, there's always another place that's right for you.
  • Not asking the seller to pay for extras - Don't be afraid to ask the seller to pay for the home inspection and a survey of the property (you need to know where the boundaries are and exactly what you are purchasing). Your agent can advise you.
Mistake #15. Not Following through to THE END - The deal has gone through and you are about to take possession. You must still be vigilant, for there are mistakes to be made even now:
  • Possession Date - Make sure you and the seller both know when you are to have vacant possession - that is, when they and their stuff is to be gone. If you think it's 12:01 a.m. and the seller thinks it's noon, there can be big problems.
  • Insurance - Make sure you have arranged for adequate home insurance and that it's timed to come into effect so there is no gap between the seller's insurance and yours.
  • Final Check - Do a thorough walk-through before you close and before you take possession to ensure that all conditions are met. Are the light fixtures all in place? Are all the appliances you agreed to buy still there?
  • Boot Them Out - Don't let the seller stay in the property after the time of possession (close of escrow). If they decide not to leave or something is damaged you could have little recourse except costly lawsuits.

In Conclusion:

Make sure buying a home is the right step for you at this time. If owning (i.e.: mortgage or loan payments) is cheaper than renting then that's a good indication it might be time to buy a home. Make sure a home purchase is fits in with your lifestyle and financial needs, goals and obligations. Writing a rent cheque once a month and having someone else take care of the upkeep is easy. Are you ready to assume the added responsibilities of home ownership? Consider buying a home in a more holistic context that includes your whole financial picture, instead of making the home-buying decision based on income alone.

Buying a home is a BIG DEAL! You'll spend more on a home than on any other purchase you make (usually). You do your homework before you buy a major appliance or vehicle, don't you? For instance, I'll bet you carry a tattered copy of the "Lemonade Car Buyers Guide" when you go looking for a used car. And you dig out the Consumers Guide for some research before you bring home a new microwave oven or wide screen TV. Take that same determination to get the features you want at the best possible price and apply it to buying a home.

Once you've done your homework make sure you surround yourself with professionals and then start looking for that dream home, at the dream price.

9 Buyer Traps and How to Avoid Them

"A systemized approach to the home buying process can help you steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut costs, but also secure the home that's best for you."

No matter which way you look at it, buying a home is a major investment.  But for many homebuyers, it can be an even more expensive process than it needs to be since they fall prey to at least a few of the many common and costly mistakes which trap them into either:

  • paying too much for the home they want, or
  • losing their dream home to another buyer or,
  • (worse) buying the wrong home for their needs.

A systemized approach to the home buying process can help you steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut costs, but also secure the home that's best for you.

9 Buyer Traps

This important report discusses the 9 most common and costly homebuyer traps, how to identify them, and what you can do to avoid them:

1. Bidding Blind

What price should you offer when you bid on a home? Is the seller's asking price too high, or does it represent a great deal. If you fail to research the market in order to understand what comparable homes are selling for, making your offer would be like bidding blind. Without this knowledge of market value, you could easily bid too much, or fail to make a competitive offer at all on an excellent value.

2. Buying the Wrong Home

What are you looking for in a home? A simple enough question, but the answer can be quite complex. More often than not, buyers have been swept up in the emotion and excitement of the buying process only to find themselves the owner of a home that is either too big or too small. Maybe they're stuck with a longer than desired commute to work, or a dozen more fix-ups than they really want to deal with now that the excitement has died down. Take the time upfront to clearly define your wants and needs. Put it in writing and then use it as a yard stick with which to measure every home you look at.

3. Unclear Title

Make sure very early on in the negotiation that you will own your new home free and clear by having a title search completed. The last thing you want to discover when you're in the back stretch of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, leases or the like.

4. Inaccurate Survey

As part of your offer to purchase, make sure you request an updated property survey which clearly marks your boundaries. If the survey is not current, you may find that there are structural changes that are not shown (e.g. additions to the house, a new swimming pool, a neighbor's new fence which is extending a boundary line, etc.). Be very clear on these issues.

5. Undisclosed Fix-ups

Don't expect every seller to own up to every physical detail that will need to be attended to. Both you and the seller are out to maximize your investment. Ensure that you conduct a thorough inspection of the home early in the process. Consider hiring an independent inspector to objectively view the home inside and out, and make the final contract contingent upon this inspector's report. This inspector should be able to give you a report of any item that needs to be fixed with associated, approximate cost.

6. Not Getting Mortgage Pre-approval

Pre-approval is fast, easy and free. When you have a pre-approved mortgage, you can shop for your home with a greater sense of freedom and security, knowing that the money will be there when you find the home of your dreams.

7. Contract Misses

If a seller fails to comply to the letter of the contract by neglecting to attend to some repair issues, or changing the spirit of the agreement in some way, this could delay the final closing and settlement. Agree ahead of time on a dollar amount for an escrow fund to cover items that the seller fails to follow through on. Prepare a list of agreed issues, walk through them, and check them off one by one.

8. Hidden Costs

Make sure you identify and uncover all costs - large and small - far enough ahead of time. When a transaction closes, you will sometimes find fees for this or that sneaking through after the "sub"-total  fees such as loan disbursement charges, underwriting fees etc. Understand these in advance by having your lender project total charges for you in writing.

9. Rushing the Closing

Take your time during this critical part of the process, and insist on seeing all paperwork the day before you sign. Make sure this documentation perfectly reflects your understanding of the transaction, and that nothing has been added or subtracted. Is the interest rate right? Is everything covered? If you rush this process on the day of closing, you may run into a last minute snag that you can't fix without compromising the terms of the deal, the financing, or even the sale itself.

First Time Buyer Information

Making the right choice when it comes to purchasing a home is a matter of good planning, not good luck. No one person can be expected to know everything, so it`s important to surround yourself with qualified professional assistance throughout the process.

What can I afford?

The first step is to review your current expenses thoroughly. Find out how much added expense will be incurred in taking on a mortgage. Before you embark on your housing search, it`s a good idea to get a pre-approved mortgage, especially if you`re a first time buyer.

A pre-approved mortgage lets you know how much money you qualify for, so when you`re looking at houses, you will know what you can afford and can shop in comfort. When you sit down with your lender or his agent to pre-qualify, it`s a good idea to review all your questions at that time.

To determine affordability, your mortgage agent will look at your Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS) and your Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS). The GDS ratio is based on what you can afford to pay each month and it includes mortgage payments, taxes and heating. Our maximum GDS ratio is 32%.

Agents also help you estimate the carrying cost with the Total Debt Service Ratio. The maximum TDS ratio is 37 per cent (40 per cent if it`s CMHC) and this includes items covered under GDS plus all other financing obligations.

If these are near the maximums, your mortgage agent will help you do a complete budget analysis based on net income looking at current and projected budgets to determine what you can actually afford and what size of mortgage payment is realistic.

This pre-qualifying stage is also the time to find out about the differences between conventional mortgages and high ratio insured mortgages. Ask about assistance for first time homebuyers such as the five per cent down payment allowed under the ``First Home Loan Insurance Program`` sponsored by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the federal government`s ``RSP Homebuyer`s Plan`` letting you use funds from your RSP to purchase a home.

Treat your pre-qualification meeting with your mortgage agent as a fact-finding mission to go over closing costs, too, such as land transfer taxes, legal fees and other disbursements. And let`s not forget that if you buy a new home from a builder, you will pay the seven per cent GST on its purchase price. A good rule of thumb is to budget about three per cent of the purchase price for closing costs.

Before you`re automatically pre-qualified, your mortgage agent will need to run a credit bureau report and receive written confirmation of income and how much you plan to put down on your purchase.

Once you`re pre-qualified, the interest rate at which you pre-qualify is frozen for 60 to 90 days from the time of your application. If rates drop below what you pre-qualified for, you`ll get the lower rate and if they rise, you`re covered. Just because you pre-qualified for a mortgage at a certain financial institution, you`re by no means obligated to obtain your mortgage through that particular bank.

Applying For Your Mortgage - A Checklist

  • A copy of the accepted Offer To Purchase and the land survey.
  • A salary letter from your employer.
  • Self-employed individuals need financial statements for the past three years as well as personal income tax returns.
  • Confirmation that your down payment came from your own resources (i.e. bank statements or a gift letter).
  • A list of all your assets and debts along with account numbers.
  • A copy of the Real Estate Listing if buying an existing home.
  • Condominium financial statements, if applicable.
  • If you are buying a home to be constructed, bring a picture of the property, a copy of the building plans and specifications, the land survey, plus your agreement with the builder.
  • Your mortgage agent can help you determine how much you can afford (perhaps even obtain a pre-qualified approval), and you`ve selected a Mortgage that`s right for you. This allows you to act quickly when you find the perfect home. As soon as your real estate agent draws up an Offer To Purchase between you and the vendor (this agreement sets the final price and all the conditions of sale), go back to your mortgage agent and your deal is almost complete.

Before Signing the Offer

The same advice applies to selecting your lawyer as to your real estate agent. Competitive fees, excellent service, knowledgeable, approachable and, in a word, VALUE...make sure that you get the right combination of price and service.

It`s not a bad idea to involve your lawyer before you sign the Offer, which becomes the legal Agreement of Purchase and Sale once signed by both the buyer and seller. If you wish, have your lawyer read the document carefully and review it with you. Once signed and accepted, your lawyer will order a series of searches from various municipal offices. This is to ensure that the vendors have not been sued and that they have paid all of their realty taxes, hydro, water and gas bills; and that there will be no old mortgages or liens on the property once you become the owner.

Your lawyer will also draft a series of closing documents, and will review the closing documents drafted by the lawyer for the vendor, since both lawyers participate in this process.

Your bank and lawyer will co-ordinate and draft the appropriate documents. Your lawyer will notify the property tax offices as well as the utility offices that you will be the new owner as of the closing day.

A few days before closing, you will visit your lawyer`s office to sign the closing documents. Then you bring a certified cheque for the balance of the closing funds, because the lawyer pays the relevant parties on your behalf (land transfer to the government, balance owing to the vendor etc.) Part of that amount covers the lawyer`s fee and the disbursements incurred. The lawyer obtains the mortgage funds directly from the lending institution.

Finding and Purchasing the Right Home

When it comes to the largest purchase in one`s life, the key phrase is ``you`d better shop around``. Don`t settle on the first home you see.

Decide where you want to live based on such things as transportation, distance to work, proximity to schools, day-care, recreation facilities, shopping, health care etc. When you hear ``10 minutes to downtown``, find out if that was determined at 2 a.m. in a race car!

Next, find a real estate agent who is really interested in giving you service...whose attitude and availability indicates that they are working for you. Do this by seeing who`s most active in your neighbourhood. An agent who actively makes sales calls, who keeps you informed of sales or listings in your area, or who leaves flyers at your door is one who is aggressively involved in pursuing business.

Set up appointments with a few agents from different companies and assess their presentation package to you. Are they prepared? Have they done some homework in advance? Do they have any special affiliations or packaged discount programs with other corporations where you can save on your mortgage, on moving costs or on household purchases for your new home? You`ll want to work with someone you relate to, with whom you have some chemistry, and who offers you excellent service and value. Make sure you ask if the Realtor is acting for a vendor or for you.

Making House Hunting Fun

There`s no shortage of information available to help you make an informed purchase decision. Banks, as well as CMHC, the Canadian Bankers` Association, the Ontario Real Estate Association and the Home Builders` Association all have brochures (even videos) to make house-hunting stress free and fun. Take the guesswork out of shopping for a home by taking advantage of all the professional resources available to guide you through the many choices available when purchasing your first home.

Mortgage Life Insurance

You should look at mortgage life insurance, especially where two incomes are involved. The cost is low and can be incorporated with your mortgage payments. Your balance will be paid in full (the maximum varies with different financial institutions) in the event of death, terminal illness, or permanent disability. These quotes are available with each mortgage approved on the system.

On Closing Day

On closing day, your lawyer will meet a representative from the vendor`s law firm at the land registry office. There, your cheque will be exchanged for the keys to your home and the two sides trade closing documents. The purchaser`s legal representative will then register the new deed and mortgage, so that anyone doing a search will learn that you are the new owner. Finally, you pick up the keys and YOU`RE IN!


Tips On How To Choose a Neighbourhood

With many homes on the market it can be difficult to choose where to live unless you narrow your choices. You can begin this process by first identifying one or a few neighbourhoods that are right for you by:

  • Consider Local Factors; and
  • Use Neighbourhood Strategies

Factors to Consider When Evaluating a Neighbourhood

When evaluating a neighbourhood, you should investigate local conditions. Depending on your own particular needs and tastes, some of the following factors may be more important considerations than others:

  • Style of homes
  • Quality of schools
  • Property values
  • Traffic
  • Crime rate
  • Future construction
  • Proximity to: Schools, Employment, Hospitals, Shopping, Public transportation, Cultural Activities (museums, concerts, theaters, etc.), Highways, Airports, Beaches, Parks, Stadiums

Whether you're moving across the country or across town, you can count on me to help you through every step of your move.

Neighbourhood Search Strategies

If you're a first time-buyer with limited financial resources, it's a wise purchasing strategy to buy a home that meets your primary needs in the best neighbourhood that fits within your price range.

You can maximize your home purchase location by incorporating some of the following strategies into your neighbourhood search:

  • Look for communities that are likely to become "hot neighbourhoods" in the coming years. They can often be discovered on the periphery of the most continuously desirable areas.
  • Look for a home in a good neighbourhood that is a bit farther out of the city. If commuting is a concern, purchase a home that is close to public transportation.
  • Look at the neighbourhood demand by asking us whether multiple offers are being made, whether the gap between the list price and sale price is decreasing, and whether there is active community involvement. You can also drive around neighbourhoods and see how many "sold" signs there are in a particular area.

Look into purchasing a condominium or co-op, rather than a house, in a desirable neighbourhood. This way you still may be able to purchase in a prime area that you otherwise could not afford.


Hiring a Home Inspector

It`s often said that one of the most expensive and important purchases you will ever make will be your home. However, unlike the guarantee a buyer receives with most purchases, there`s no money-back guarantee or return policy if you`re not satisfied with your recently purchased home. Once you buy a home, you`re on your own to maintain it, repair it, anticipate problems and pay the bills. This is why it`s best to know as much as you can about potential problems before you make the commitment to buy.

What home and property inspectors do

One of the best ways to understand about a home`s condition, habitability and safety is to hire a professional home inspector1. A properly trained home inspector will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect the operability or lifespan of another. Home inspectors will go through the property and perform a comprehensive visual inspection to assess the condition of the house and all of its systems. They will determine the components that are not performing properly as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. They will also identify areas where repairs may be needed or where there may have been problems in the past. Inspections are intended to provide the client with a better understanding of property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection.

A pre-purchase inspection for a 165 to 205 m2 (1800 to 2200 sq. ft.) home typically takes about three hours and costs under $500. Following the inspection, the buyer is presented with a written report, consolidating the details of the inspection. The home inspector should be willing to answer any questions a buyer might have and to clarify the limitations of the inspection to avoid misunderstandings. CMHC recommends that potential buyers accompany the inspector as the inspection takes place. It can be a valuable learning experience.

Scope of the inspection

The home inspector will provide a visual inspection by looking at the home`s various systems, including interior and exterior components. The inspector will check exterior components including roofing, flashing, chimneys, gutters, downspouts, wall surfaces, the foundation, and the grading around it. Note that if the inspection takes place in the winter, the roof and the foundation may not be fully visible for inspection if they are covered with snow and ice. For safety and insurance reasons, the home inspector is not required to climb up on a roof to look at it but will make all possible efforts to do so. However, the home inspector will inspect the roof from the ground. This also applies to the chimney and downspouts. If problems or symptoms beyond the scope of the inspection are found, the home inspector may recommend further evaluation.

Interior systems the home inspector will check include electrical, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, insulation, flooring, ceiling and wall finishes, windows and doors. Note that a home inspector is not qualified to inspect a wood-burning appliance such as a fireplace or wood stove unless they are WETT (Wood Energy Technology Training) certified. Many home inspectors are, but do not carry out a WETT inspection as part of the standard home inspection unless it is requested.This is an extra request and will add at least one hour to the inspection time.To be properly inspected, a chimney must first be cleaned.

As with the outside of the home, the inspection of the interior systems is visual, meaning that the inspector will not be able to see behind walls or under the floor.

A proper home inspection does not include appraisals, exact quotes for repairs, or pointing out noncompliance with building code requirements. A home inspection is not intended to provide warranties or guarantees. A home inspection is intended to help you make an informed decision about buying your home. A home inspection is not to be mistaken as a warranty on the house.

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