One of the most important, and these days most contentious, aspects of buying a home is the physical inspection of the property.
In New Jersey, these inspections are done after a binding contract is reached and are a contingency in the contract. In New York, the inspection is done prior to finalizing the contract. Either way, what a seller will repair or give a credit for, is a matter of negotiation. It should not be used as a way to renegotiate the basic terms of the deal, but that is how it often works out, especially when you are in a buyer’s market.
The most important thing to do is get a thorough inspection by a licensed inspector. The inspection should check for things such as a leaky roof, issues with the heating and cooling system, plumbing, and any other physical system in the house. Some items, such as radon gas, oil tanks and septic tanks might need a separate inspection.
Oftentimes, inspectors can be alarmist and point out every old item in the house and every minor issue. Most houses have these problems. It is important to focus on the main safety and enjoyment issues and not get bogged down about little things that will be in every house that is not literally brand new.
In New York City, buyers in condominiums and cooperatives might be tempted to not get an inspection, but this is foolish. The few hundred dollars will easily be paid back when you find a single significant issue to fix, and even in an apartment there can be serious issues. It is always better to know about it ahead of time.
Finally, the inspection is not to be confused with the walk-through, which is the final inspection prior to closing. This is a less through inspection to ensure that the property is in the same condition as when you had the inspection done. It is also important, and possibly the subject of another post.