A home inspection is a visual inspection performed by a trained professional to determine the condition of a home’s main elements. The inspection usually takes several hours, during which the professional takes multiple photos and notes, tracking information for a final report. After the inspection, the pro will create a printed report, complete with photos and detailed information, summarizing the condition of the house. A home inspection is often used by potential home buyers prior to purchase to determine if there are larger issues (such as dry rot or a faulty foundation) that are not immediately visible to the untrained eye but that would cost a lot of money to resolve. Home inspections are also used by real estate agents and home sellers to address any concerns before putting a home on the market. Longtime homeowners can also schedule a home inspection to get a snapshot of their current home condition and identify any issues that need to be addressed. A home inspection is not a legal document that can be used for divorce or estate settlements, nor can it be used to secure loans or mortgages.
A home inspection should tell you the true condition of a home. A competent home inspector closely inspects your home’s structure and foundation, looks for termites and signs of problems like mold, checks the wiring to ensure it’s in good condition, and investigates the HVAC system, among other items. To find a good home inspector, first research whether home inspection is licensed in your area; not all states require licensure.
If there is no regulatory body that licenses home inspection in your state, there are other ways to make sure you are hiring a trustworthy professional. Carefully look into the person’s reviews and ask for references. Ask if they are committed to continuing education, and whether they are active members in any reputable home inspector organizations. Some organizations that recognize and/or certify home inspectors are the American Society of Home Inspectors, National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and American Home Inspectors Training. Don’t be shy about asking to see credentials and licensing.
What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a property manager during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Ask the property manager if they can set up a virtual consultation or remote appointment using a phone or video chat. It’s best to avoid as much in-person contact as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. If they can talk virtually, ask any questions you have about the work that needs to be done. Ask about their system for handling payments, and see what kinds of precautions they have in place to ensure safety and social distancing.
If you're hiring a property manager to look after a property that you own, consider the safety implications of in-person visits. Due to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, it may be difficult for the property manager to collect rent in person or complete certain maintenance tasks. Check with your local government guidelines and consider implementing extra safety measures -- such as wearing a mask and gloves -- if you have to meet with them in person.
Contact the property managers near you and ask if they offer remote or virtual services to accommodate the recent social distancing guidelines. For example, some property managers may be able to collect rent by using digital payments and deal with maintenance issues over the phone or via video chat.
Some property management services accept digital payments such as PayPal, Venmo and Zelle. Check with the property management business near you to see what kinds of payments they accept. Remember that digital payments are typically considered safer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as it requires virtually no person-to-person contact.
You will need to check with your city or state government to see if a property manager is considered an essential service provider in your area.
For more information on a national scale, refer to CISA’s document on critical workers. However, keep in mind that some -- not all -- jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.
In most cases, a property manager should not have to enter your home or apartment unless there is a maintenance issue that needs attention. If you are hiring a property manager to look after your property, refer to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and check on your state or local community rules. Ask the property manager whether they can collect rent through digital methods such as PayPal, Zelle or Venmo, and see if they can communicate with residents through video chat or phone call for maintenance issues.
On average, you can expect a standard home inspection to take two to three hours. Your house size can affect inspection length, as can requesting additional services such as sprinkler system inspections, outbuilding inspections, radon testing, crawl space inspections, or pool house inspections. During the home inspection, the professional will be taking photos and looking in and around all parts of your home. The inspector will then compile a report that may be more than 20 pages. You should receive this report back within a few days to a week. The report should detail everything from minor imperfections and maintenance recommendations to major defects that need to be resolved as soon as possible, like structural failures or a leak in the basement. Your report should include photos and clearly outlined information about all major elements inspected, as well as recommendations for next steps.
Home appraisals and home inspections both assess your home and provide a report summarizing the condition or value of your home based on key measurements. Unlike a home inspection for the sale of a property, a home appraisal is used for loan applications, property value assessment for sales or settlements (divorce, estate, etc.), and taxes and insurance. If you’re having your home appraised for lending purposes, you’ll likely need a state-certified appraiser, so be sure to your research their credentials. Nationally, the average cost for a home appraisal is $340.
If you’re buying or selling a home, having a professional home inspection can be an invaluable tool for price-setting and negotiation, as well as learning what repairs are necessary. The national average home inspection cost is $310, ranging higher or lower depending on the inspection company, your location and the size of your home. Other factors that can affect cost are additional inspection services and pathogen testing. Here are some examples of average home inspection costs in various parts of the country:
- Home inspection in New York City: $425 or more.
- Condo inspection in New York City: $200 or more.
- Home inspection in Central Texas: $250 for homes up to 2,000 square feet.
- $275 for homes from 3,001-4,000 square feet.
- $300 for homes from 4,001-5,000 square feet.
- $325 for homes 5,001 square feet and up, plus 10 cents per additional square foot.
- Home inspection in Los Angeles: $199-$299 or more.