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.
Real estate agents help their clients buy, sell, and rent commercial and residential properties. There are also real estate agents that sell industrial and agricultural real estate, but the majority sell residential properties. To become a real estate agent, you must be at least 18 years old, successfully complete real estate courses, and pass a real estate exam. Be sure to check for any required licensing, too. Often real estate agents will earn 5 percent to 6 percent of the total home sale price for their work in representing their client. Typically this commission is split equally between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. Here is an overview of what a real estate agent does, according to the United States Department of Labor:
- Represent clients who are looking to buy, sell and rent properties.
- Stay knowledgeable about regional real estate prices, mortgages, market conditions and related information, and advise clients accordingly.
- Determine competitive market prices by comparing properties.
- Create and publicize lists of properties for sale, including details such as location and features.
- Market properties through advertisements, open houses and listing services.
- Show prospective buyers or renters properties.
- Present purchase offers to sellers for consideration.
- Mediate negotiations between buyer and seller.
- Ensure that all terms of purchase contracts are met.
- Prepare documents, such as loyalty contracts, purchase agreements and deeds.
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.
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.
Real estate agents typically don’t charge a set rate to their clients, but rather earn a commission on the price of the final home sale. In traditional real estate, there is a buyer’s agent and a seller’s agent. The two agents receive 5 percent to 6 percent of the final home sale price and split it evenly, meaning they each earn roughly 2.5 percent to 3 percent of the total home sale. If you are a home seller, you may have fees associated with the sale that are above and beyond the commission the agents earn. The real estate agent may have you pay marketing fees, MLS fees, early cancellation fees, or more. Always ask pricing details before signing a contract so you clearly understand your financial obligations. Here are some of the average (and common) costs that can arise when selling a home:
- Home inspection: $200-$350 or more, depending on region.
- Home appraisal: $250-$400 or more, depending on region.
- Professional real estate photography: $275-$550 or more, depending on photographer, square footage of house, and special requests like sunset shots.
- Closing costs: Often split between the seller and buyer. An average range for the buyer to pay is between 3 percent and 4 percent, with the seller paying a lower fee at 1 percent to 3 percent of the home’s price.