Defect on Home Inspection

If you are buying a home, then you have likely had that nervous feeling in your stomach when it’s time to hire a home inspector. You may find yourself wondering if he will find something (or many things) to send your dreams crashing down.

Or maybe you are the type of person that thinks the inspection will go well – “there are no issues here” you tell yourself.

But what if the home inspector finds a defect? What if he finds several defects? A home inspector is paid to find these things – so he likely will. So what can we do after the home inspector finds a defect?

1: Don’t Panic

The first thing many people do is panic. Maybe not outwardly, but inwardly they may feel cheated, disappointed, or they may say “I would never have bought this if I knew about this issue”. But don’t panic. Many solutions are missed by letting our emotions about the issue take over. That being said, some people take the opposite approach and downplay issues found on a home inspection – but that is not good either. Take a metered approach, learn about the issue from the inspector, and then talk over options with your agent. That will typically yield the best results.


2: Don’t Assume Someone Was Hiding It

One of the first things that some homebuyers assume is that the seller was hiding the issue. This has unfortunately happened before, and still happens, but it is usually not the norm. Most sellers are not professional tradesmen or inspectors, so they likely did not know the issue existed, or if they did – they probably didn’t realize the issue was that serious.

Also, most defects are found in places hard to get to, like the attic for example. How much time do you spend in your unfinished attic climbing through insulation? Most people don’t – so the seller probably wasn’t digging around in their attic either.

It’s good to be careful about how we view the seller. Negotiations can fall apart if either (or both) sides become adversarial because of how they view the other party.

3: Ask Yourself “Is It Fixable?”

And the answer is yes – everything is fixable. It is a matter of whether or not you want to take on that particular defect. Defects scare people away that don’t know much about it, so educate yourself on the issue. Is it a chimney defect? Then talk to a chimney contractor. Is it a roof defect? Then speak with a roofer. Most of the time the issue will likely not be as bad as we thought. Or it may be worse – but having accurate information is important for making a good decision.

4: See If The Seller Will Negotiate Or Fix The Issue

It’s interesting that some people walk away from a home because a defect was found, only to later find out that the seller fixed the issue and then sold the house to someone else. If you don’t go back to the seller and see if they are willing to negotiate, then you may lose out on an opportunity. 

There are usually a couple of options to negotiate with the seller. You can ask for a credit and fix the issue yourself, or ask the seller to have the issue fixed before closing. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but your agent can usually guide you on what would work best in your particular situation.

5: Take The Home As a Whole – And Not The Sum Of Its Defects

This point is very important, because if we look at a home through the eyes of just the defects found on the home inspection, no house would ever measure up. Instead, take the home as a whole. For instance, maybe the home inspector found a $10,000 roof defect and the sellers offered to pay $5,000 of that. We may balk at that, but step back for a moment – did you get the house for a decent price? Is it in the school district you want to be in? What drew you to that house in the first place? Is family nearby? 

Another thing to consider is simple math. A defect can be a good thing. For instance, imagine if that $10,00 roof defect example we used wasn’t there yet and you bought the home with no defects (but a note from the inspector that the roof is getting old), and then 2 years later it degenerates and you would have a $10,000 roof defect that you have to pay all yourself. Wouldn’t it be better to have a defect and negotiate on it now, rather than have it all come out of your pocket later on?

So before you walk away from a home that has a defect (or multiple defects) be sure to consider these 5 points.

For more on the subject of Home Inspections, check out these articles: Why Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection? and What To Do With Your Home Inspection Report.