In Florida, home sellers (and their listing agents) are required to disclose any defects that are not readily observable and materially affect the property value. (Ch. 475.2701, F.S.) With that being said, there may be times when certain defects are unknown to the current homeowner.
The home inspection is a major step in the due diligence process of purchasing real property and serves to protect the buyer from expending money on a property that may be worth less than anticipated if material defects later become known. Moreover, oftentimes the lender will require a home inspection and/or a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) report prior to approving a loan for closing.
Q: What does a home inspector examine?
A: The home inspector will examine the exterior and interior construction of the property, the mechanical and electrical systems, as well as the plumbing system. Below is a list of the common elements observed during a home inspection.
- Topography and foundation or crawlspace
- Driveway, sidewalk, porch & patio areas
- Walls, siding, trim, windows & doors
- Garage(s) and/or carport(s)
- HVAC and/or wall unit(s)
- Electrical system
- Plumbing, well/septic system
- Energy efficiency
- Radon gas
- Lead-based paint
- Other external concerns
Are home inspectors licensed?
A: In the state of Florida, home inspectors are required to be licensed. Check with your state’s division of licensing or ask your local real estate agent.
- Use a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement when you are buying/selling a residential property.
- During your walk-through, inquire of any observable defects/recent repairs.
- Contact your local government’s permitting department to inquire of any open/closed permits on the subject property. The most important aspect of this step is to ensure that any work done in the past was permitted, up to code, and that all permits are closed. Finding out there is an open permit prior to closing can cause delays and frustrate the closing process, not to mention the potentially high repair costs that may surface.
In closing, it is highly recommended you hire a licensed, insured, and experienced home inspector, ask the seller for a property disclosure statement, and check the property history with your local permitting department. While these tasks may be a bit tedious, your real estate professional should be there to guide you through the process and ensure that you have a smooth closing!