In my continuing series, First-Time-Buyer Fridays, I answer a common question from a first-time buyer. If you have a question to submit, first-time-buyer or experienced investor, put one in the comments below, or fire me an e-mail at Tim@TimAyres.ca.
Q. A friend said that if I decide to purchase a condo or a home with a warranty, I don’t need a home inspector. It that true?
A. I would always recommend that you protect yourself from unforeseen problems by hiring a qualified home inspector as a condition to buying the house. In fact, it’s so important that our standard-form Contract of Purchase and Sale has an inspection clause pre-written into the subjects page.
An inspector will cost you somewhere between $300-$500 and is money well spent. Some offer a lower rate for condos or townhouses, while others are the same for all property types. This is money that is spent before you remove your conditions, so it’s a good idea to get the final approval on your financing before you pay an inspector to look at the house. That way, you avoid the frustrating position of knowing that the house your bank won’t let you buy is safe and sound.
As of March 31, 2009 all home inspectors are required to be licensed in British Columbia. This is a huge step forward in standardizing the industry and protecting consumers. Prior to this requirement, anyone could call him or herself a home inspector without any real knowledge about homes or any formal training! To be fair, most reputable home inspectors belong to a self-regulating professional organization such as the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI).
With a condo or townhouse, sometimes an inspector cannot get access to all areas of the exterior of the building, for example, the roof. It’s important that you get your REALTOR® to arrange access to these spaces. Otherwise, you only get a limited idea of the condition of the property by having the inspector examine only the strata unit you’re buying. Remember that when you buy a condo or townhouse, you are also buying an interest in (and responsibility for) the common property of the building, so it only makes sense to have it inspected to avoid any unforeseen expense.
If you buy a newer home, it will come with a warranty. The good news is that the warranty will cover many things that could go wrong. The bad news is that a warranty doesn’t prevent problems from occurring. Better to spend the money and get it inspected. Often, the current owners of the property can have any problems found remedied before you move in, saving you the hassle of making a warranty claim.
It can be disappointing to have an inspector examine the home that you really like, only to find some major issues that weren’t apparent to you when you first looked at the house. If you have to walk away, you can think of the fee you paid to the appraiser as an insurance premium that saved you from major financial difficulty down the road.
So, how can you find a reputable inspector? Well, it’s comforting to know that inspectors in BC are now licensed, so you could search Google for home inspectors, or look in the Yellow Pages. You may also ask your REALTOR® who he or she recommends. I have three or four inspectors whose cards I carry and would be happy to recommend any of them.
For more information about home inspection or any other real estate questions, call me at 250-885-0512, e-mail me at Tim@TimAyres.ca or fill in my contact form. Connect with me on Twitter at Twitter.com/TimAyres.
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