4 Tips to Avoid Nasty Surprises in Your New Home

Before you buy a home, make sure you have your appliances inspected, to avoid nasty surprises

When it comes to a home inspection, don’t forget the appliances.

Picture this: You’re the proud owner of a previously loved home. You’ve finished unloading the moving van and started unpacking the cardboard boxes that hold your dishes, when you decide to run a load in the dishwasher. You fill it up, add the detergent and … it’s broken.

If only you had included that appliance in the home inspection list. When it comes to purchasing a home — and inheriting used appliances and systems — get the right information to protect yourself. Here are four home inspection tips for buyers:

1. Be on site.

Maintaining an active presence during the home inspection is key, says Deb Tomaro, a broker associate for Re/Max Acclaimed Properties in Bloomington, Indiana. “A home inspection is not just about protecting your investment and making sure you aren’t buying something with major issues. It’s just as importantly about learning how to maintain your new home, how to improve it, and how to plan for inevitable repairs and replacements.”

Being part of the home inspection process will help you get to know the details of the home, and provides an opportunity to ask questions about the quality and condition of the appliances.

“A huge part of smart home ownership is educating yourself about your home,” Tomaro says. “And the home inspection is the first important class in that education.”

2. Be vocal.

“Remember that you’re the boss,” says John Mease, a home inspector and professional member of the American Society of Home Inspectors in Roswell, Georgia. “Without the buyer, none of us would have a job.”

As you’re walking through the property, speak out with any queries and concerns.

“Ask questions until you are comfortable and confident,” he says. “If your representative cannot answer your questions to your comfort level, get another representative.”

3. Remember inspectors’ limitations.

“An inspector cannot predict the future,” Mease says. “We can and should inform the buyer as to when an appliance is near, at or past its classic lifespan. For example, an exterior AC unit has a classic life of 10 to 12 years in the Atlanta region, while a standard gas furnace should last 15 to 20 years.”

Local home inspectors will have a sense of how long various appliances typically endure in that region — but their estimate isn’t a guarantee. Nor can inspectors perform special tests outside the range of typical demands on an appliance.

“For example, in the attic, an inspector can’t electrically ‘jump’ the furnace to force it to run. He can only use the controls the buyer would use — in this case, the thermostat.”

4. Negotiate a home warranty.

“Just as most people have health and life insurance for themselves and homeowner’s insurance for the house itself, they can purchase a home warranty,” Mease says. A home warranty is a great tool to protect new home owners. What a home warranty covers can vary.

You can negotiate one into your offer on the house. “It will impact sellers’ bottom line, and they take that into account,” Tomaro adds. If you’re wondering home much a home warranty costs, expect to spend about $500 to negotiate one into your offer, she says. But it might be worth the savings, as well as peace of mind.

Quick Answers: 4 Tips to Avoid Nasty Surprises in Your New Home

  1. Be on site

  2. Be vocal

  3. Remember inspectors’ limitations

  4. Negotiate a home warranty

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