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Everything You Need to Know

You found the home of your dreams. It’s in your price range and the lender has provided a preapproval for your mortgage. Your real estate agent has negotiated on your behalf and you are now under contract. It’s an important step but there is still a long way to go. The next important step is to submit your earnest money deposit and await the results of inspections. In Northern Virginia, there are 4 main types of inspections associated with a house purchase. Here is everything you need to know about home sale inspections.

The Basics

Virginia is what is known as a “”Buyer Beware” state. The correct term, of Latin origin, is “Caveat Emptor”. It is a legal term stating that the buyer in a home sale takes the risk regarding the quality or condition of the property purchased, unless protected by warranty. For more information, please read “What is Buyer Beware or Caveat Emptor“. This means that inspections are crucial components for sellers and buyers to be fully aware of. For sellers, oftentimes, it’s best to know the condition of your home before it goes on the market. This ,ay save the owner on expenses and lengthy negotiations later on. For buyers, it’s important to accept the condition of the home, even if not in perfect condition.

Home Inspections

According to the National Association of Realtors, a home inspection is “a visual assessment of a home’s condition in which inspectors look for thousands of potential problems in areas of the home, including ceilings, walls, floors, windows, and doors.” Once a ratified sales agreement between the seller and the buyer is signed, it is the responsibility of the buyer to contract a licensed home inspector (unless stated otherwise in the sale contact). The cost for a home inspection in Northern Virginia depends on the contractor and the size of the home. They typically cost between $400 and $1,000.

Home Inspections are Crucially Important

Based on the contract, the buyer must adhere to the deadlines on how many days they have to get the home inspection and negotiations completed. The real estate specialist working for the buyer may schedule the inspection, review the results, and handle negotiations. The agent working with the seller handles negotiations on behalf of the homeowner. Home inspections are a critical part of the home buying and selling process. Homeowners are reassured that their home is in good condition for sale. They also have documentation that the buyer is willing to proceed to closing. Failure to obtain a home inspection could potentially cost a buyer a great deal of money and hassles in the long run.

Pest/Termite Inspection

Another type of inspection associated with a home sale is a pest inspection. “A pest inspection includes a search for bugs and other creatures that can cause damage to the structure of your property, a health hazard or both. One common structural concern is caused by termites that get their nutrients from the wood in your house, but various other bugs and rodents can also cause concerns,” says RocketMortgage.

Pest inspections range in price depending on the number of structures that are part of the inspection, typically ranging from $30 to $100. Some lenders and types of mortgages, like the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) loan, require a pest inspection in Virginia. There is no way around this, even if both parties agree that it is not important. Each state is different. Again, if the results of a pest inspection are negative, the remediation is negotiated between the homeowner and potential buyer.

Water Inspection

In many parts of Northern Virginia, there are many homes that sit on larger tracts of land in more rural areas. For the most part, these homes get their water supply from wells and not to public water sources. Using a well as your primary source of water comes with many perks. There are no more water bills. You also control the water purification and treatment process so you can enjoy refreshing and mineral-rich water that tastes great.  It also means the the homeowner is full responsible for water on the property.

Getting a well inspection is essential. This is done through an addendum to the sales contract. It will oftentimes cover septic inspections at the same time (covered in the next section). A well inspection is conducted by a professional who tests the quality and quantity of water in the well. The inspection includes several tests. However there are two main areas of concern: (1) quality and (2) quantity of water. It ensures that the water is safe for consumption and won’t cause any health hazards. It also ensures the well holds enough water to properly service the house.

Getting a well inspection before you purchase a home can save you a lot of time, energy, and money. For instance, if you discover a well needs expensive repairs or the water isn’t safe to drink or use, you may want to reconsider your purchase. Or you could negotiate a lower deal with the seller. Either way, you want to know you’re living in a home where the water is safe to consume. After that, the homeowner will want to inspect the well each year.


More Research

Before you buy land with a well, you may also benefit from doing a bit of research into the groundwater in your area. Search for known water issues through the EPA, talk to neighbors about any problems, and ask your real estate agent about any known water concerns in the area.

To test water quantity, the inspector measures the dimensions and depth of the well and conducts a flow rate test. The flow indicates the amount of water coming from your well, and the flow rate measures the number of gallons per minute. On average, a home needs 100 to 120 gallons per person per day. The flow rate should be around 6 to 12 gallons per minute. This ensures you have accurate water pressure and enough water to meet basic needs such as bathing, cooking, and washing. During the inspection, the inspector will also check your pressure tank. The inspector will look for any rusting, leaking, or other mechanical defects that could result in low water pressure or contamination.

Septic Inspection

According to Realtor.com, “septic system inspections are also required if you plan to sell your home. Even if you don’t know if you’re going to sell, keeping your septic system in good condition will save you thousands of dollars in repairs if anything does go wrong.”

If you’re buying in a rural area, you will need a septic inspection. Also note that the three-year mark is also the maximum amount of time you should let your septic system go without being pumped out. You’re going to want to hire a professional septic contractor for the inspection. A septic contractor will look for cracks in the tank indicated by a low level of liquid, the amount of solids inside the tank using a measuring device called a “sludge judge,” and possible ground contamination.

The responsibility to pay for septic repairs typically falls to the seller. However, repairs of any kind found at inspection are generally negotiable. Contract terms usually dictate the course of action, but sellers may have such options as doing the repairs themselves, splitting repair costs with the buyer, giving the buyer a closing credit equal to the amount of the repairs, or refusing to do anything. If an agreement on repairs isn’t reached, the buyer does have the legal right to walk away from the transaction.

Bottom Line

Home inspections are a crucial component of the home selling process. Regardless of what happens, having an experience real estate specialist representing your interests is what you need.

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