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The Three Most Common Mistakes Prospective Homebuyers Make

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The Three Most Common Mistakes Prospective Homebuyers Make

June 2007 (Palm Springs, Calif.) - In its ongoing mission to inform and educate the public, the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) reminds homebuyers and sellers, as well as all individuals involved in real estate transactions, that the professional services of a qualified home inspector are different than an “off-the-shelf” commodity.

In California’s essentially unregulated home inspection profession, quality and depth of inspection services vary widely. Misinformed or unprepared consumers frequently suffer the consequences of avoidable mistakes.

FACT: (Mistake #1) Consumers in the process of buying a new home sometimes erroneously compare and select inspectors as they would the purchase of a tangible commodity. Whether it is in accountancy, medicine, engineering, law or home inspection, the intangible and non-returnable services of any professional services provider need to be carefully compared before selected.

REALITY: The value of professional services is defined essentially by the experience and reputation of the provider, each of which will differ and often significantly. As with the best plastic surgeon in town having performed a certain procedure many times, the worth of a home inspection professional will be rooted in his or her background, education, training and experience for which the consumer pays. Higher quality professional services are fee-structured based on popularity and demand, having nothing to do with volume of business or discounts.

As with any established, sought-after practitioner, the “in demand” home inspection professional typically has a heavy workload, calendaring time as best they can to provide quality service to as many clients as possible.

FACT: (Mistake #2) Prospective homebuyers often neglect to plan ahead for when they will need the services of a home inspection professional, not realizing that it takes time to compare résumés and report formats, interview those inspectors they are considering, and most importantly confirm availability and the required lead-time to schedule with the professional of their choice.

REALITY: Upon acceptance of an offer, the standard California real estate sale/purchase contract provides homebuyers seventeen days to release inspection or other contingencies. Depending on market conditions, this period is not uncommonly foreshortened allowing even less time for buyers to select their inspector, arrange access, review the inspection report and release contingencies in a well informed manner. At the same time prospective buyers are viewing homes they are best advised to be selecting their inspector and arranging for an inspection.

A home inspection is not a one-day event. The process of a well-conducted inspection can be described as preparation, execution and consultation on findings as appropriate to a full understanding of the inspection report.

FACT: (Mistake #3) Unfortunately, many homebuyers lose sight of the fact they need to be involved in all three stages of the inspection process. Failure to arrange appropriate access to systems and components of the building, non-participation in the actual inspection and not allowing adequate time to read the report and consult with their inspector can result in a less than full inspection experience.

REALITY: Inaccessible areas, obstructed equipment or components can result in an incomplete report or additional expense for an inspector’s return visit to a property, time for which may not be available within the agreed contingency period. Non-participation in the inspection and not reading the full report on findings is more likely to lessen an understanding of the inspector’s opinions and any recommendations made, and also reduce the effectiveness of all-important follow-up questions and consultation.

Homebuyers and sellers are urged to retain the services of qualified inspectors trained and experienced in home inspection. It is also very important that the inspector be a member of a well-founded professional association such as CREIA. Established in 1976, CREIA is the largest and oldest state inspection association in the country. CREIA inspectors must adhere to CREIA's Code of Ethics and follow the Standards of Practice developed and maintained by the Association. Recognized by the State of California, these Standards of Practice are considered the source for Home Inspector Standard of Care by the real estate and legal communities.

To locate a qualified CREIA inspector near you click here or call CREIA at (800) 388-8443.


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