Scrutiny is Key When Purchasing Foreclosed Homes
American Society of Home Inspectors Urges Consumers to Take a Close Look Before Buying
Des Plaines, Ill. (May 9, 2008) - Americans are fascinated with deals. From game shows to shopping sprees, we're always looking for bargains. When it comes to purchasing a home, however, a bargain could be a money pit in disguise. As the rate of home foreclosures continues to rise, the opportunity to buy a home for a steal may be tempting, but the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) urges consumers to be cautious.
"Everyone's looking for a deal," said Brion Grant, 2008 ASHI president, "but good deals are not always what they seem. A major structural defect, unsafe heating system or exposed wires that can cause injury or fire, for instance, can erase the sweet taste of the bargain. A home is still one of the most expensive purchases a person will make in his or her lifetime, so the decision to purchase a home should never be an uninformed one."
In cities where the market is stabilizing, purchasing a foreclosed home may be a good option for some buyers. Industry experts agree, however, that buying a foreclosed home shouldn't be taken lightly and should not be attempted without professional help. Charlotte, N.C., for instance, was ranked the best city in the United States in which to buy a foreclosed home, according to Forbes.com. Even still, homebuyers — especially first time homebuyers — should enlist the help of a qualified ASHI inspector to evaluate the home on their behalf and to identify potential safety or maintenance issues that could spell trouble over the long haul.
ASHI's Inspection Standards
There are different things to consider when you are buying a foreclosed home," said Grant. "Many of these homes may have suffered wear and tear or damage at the hands of the previous owner like any other pre-owned property, but buyers may be tempted to forego a home inspection to lock in the reduced price." Grant urges buyers to spend the extra $300 to $500, on average, to hire an ASHI Certified Inspector who will carefully evaluate the following areas of the home according to ASHI's Standards of Practice:
- Structure — including basements and crawl spaces
- Exterior Surfaces — including siding, decks and grading of soil
- Roof Coverings
- Plumbing Systems
- Electrical Systems
- Heating and Air Conditioning Systems
- Interior Surfaces and Components
- Insulation and Ventilation
- Fireplaces and Chimneys
Tips on How to Identify a Good Home Inspector
These days, savvy buyers need to take the time to investigate the qualifications of their home inspector. The ASHI president was recently asked to share tips for identifying a good home inspector. Here's what he had to say:
- Talk to your friends and family – Ask for referrals from your family, co-workers and respected friends who have direct experience with an inspector with a positive track record.
- Confer with your attorney – In essence, only two professionals in a real estate transaction work directly on behalf of the buyers — the attorney and home inspector. Real estate attorneys read many poorly-written reports and know which firms are completing quality work.
- Review the inspector's Web site – Pay attention to detail and look for his or her writing style and how defects are described in sample reports.
- Ask questions – Inquire about whether the inspector enters all crawl spaces including the attic and foundation areas, and if not, why? Also ask how he or she will evaluate the roof. Will he or she walk on the roof?
- Confirm membership – Make sure the inspector is a member of ASHI and confirm his or her membership status by visiting ASHI's Web site, www.homeinspector.org.
- Verify the status of his or her license and required insurance coverage – If you live in one of the 32 states that requires home inspectors to be licensed or otherwise regulated, call your local department of community affairs and confirm that the inspector has his or her license and any required insurance.
- Don't base your decision on price – Remember the adage "you get what you pay for." Be wary of bargain home inspections.
- Check his or her references – Ask the inspector for a list of professional references and call them with specific questions about the inspector and services provided.
About the American Society of Home Inspectors
In its 31st year and with nearly 6,000 members, ASHI is the oldest and most widely recognized non-profit, professional organization of home inspectors in North America. Its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the industry standard. ASHI’s mission is to meet the needs of its membership and promote excellence and exemplary practice within the profession. For more information, visit www.homeinspector.org or call 800-743-2744.
To become an ASHI Certified Inspector, ASHI members must pass two written tests, including the National Home Inspectors Examination, and have performed a minimum of 250 professional fee-paid inspections conducted in accordance with ASHI’s Standards of Practice and subscribe to the Code of Ethics. ASHI Certified Inspectors are also required to obtain 20 continuing education credits per year to keep current with the latest in building technology, materials and professional skills.