The 2 'must-dos' when buying a home

Angie's List explains your home inspection, final-walkthrough

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Most folks know when you're buying a home it's a good idea to get a home inspection. But were you also aware of the importance of taking a final walk-through before closing?

Angie's List asked highly rated home inspectors and real estate agents to weigh in.

What is a home inspection?

  • A home inspection is primarily intended to protect the prospective buyer from purchasing a home with structural defects and other major problems.
  • An inspector will look at the structure, roof, heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical system and determine if the home needs repairs and if there are any health or safety concerns.
  • A home inspection is highly recommended, though not required.
  • The inspection usually costs a few hundred dollars (the cost will vary depending on the size and age of the home) and can take three or four hours.
  • If possible, plan to be present at the inspection. Make sure to read the inspection report, which should be thorough and easy to understand. It should include narrative accounts of the inspector's findings, along with pictures and diagrams.
  • Be aware, however, that an inspection is not a warranty and there's no guarantee it will find all problems with a property.
  • Most reports will find some areas that need attention, but if the issues are major, you may want to use the report to renegotiate your original offer for the house.

What is a walk-through?

  • A walk-through before closing is important because you are looking to see if the home is in the condition in which you agreed to buy it. It does not replace a home inspection.
  • It's also a time to check if the seller made any repairs suggested during the home inspection and if you asked for any items to be removed.
  • Schedule your walk-through after the sellers have moved out so you can determine if anything was damaged during the move.
  • Go room by room. Turn on and off every light fixture. Run water and look under sinks for leaks. Flush toilets. Test all appliances included HVAC equipment. Open and close all windows.
  • Takes about 30 minutes.
  • If any last minute issues do occur, talk to your real estate agent about your options. You may be able to escrow money for the cost of the repairs or delay closing to correct the repair.
  • A walk-through before closing is not required, but you should ask for one.

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