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How to choose the best home inspector when buying a house

If you’re looking into buying downtown Los Angeles real estate, chances are you have probably done a fair amount of research on the internet—it’s a big purchase, after all! In the process, you have also probably noticed that most home buyer’s guides tend to list the same vague tips and tricks without going into too much detail about them. One extremely important thing they tend to gloss over entirely is how to choose a home inspector. In fact, the best time to buy a house in Los Angeles (or anywhere else, for that matter) is right after a satisfactory inspection by a professional inspector you trust, as it helps ensure you’re aware of each and every little detail and possible issue.

Below you will find a list of important things to keep in mind when choosing a home inspector, as well as other first-time condo buyer tips.

Make sure your purchase contract is contingent on a satisfactory inspection

When buying a condo in Los Angeles, one of the most important things to do is to make sure there is a clause stating that the contract is dependent on an inspection that you are satisfied with. Unless you are a professional inspector yourself, there are always going to be things you don’t notice about the house no matter how many times you comb through each and every room yourself. Having this contingency clause allows you to void your contract and receive your deposit back if you are unsatisfied with the results of the inspection.

Vet your home inspector by reading reviews, getting references, and consulting your realtor

If you’re able to get positive references from a variety of sources, you’ll be much more likely to find a truly great home inspector. Ask friends and family about home inspectors they have used, get opinions from industry professionals such as your realtor, and read reviews on sites like Yelp and Google.

Look for an inspector who is a member of professional inspectors groups

These groups include, but are not limited to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). Though belonging to one of these professional organizations does not guarantee quality, it’s always a good sign that an inspector made the effort to go through auxiliary professional training.

Ensure that the company is solely an inspection company

Some companies provide more all-encompassing home services, such as plumbing, roofing, and other repairs and renovations. While it might seem handy to be able to go through the same company for multiple things, this unfortunately can be a conflict of interest. Since these inspectors may also be trying to get your business for other facets of the company, this creates more opportunities for them to see problems where there aren’t any so you are more likely to use their repair services.

Ask what is covered under the inspection and how long the inspection will take

There’s nothing worse than getting an unexpected bill. Knowing what the inspector charges and their timeframe for the inspection will help make sure there are no surprises.

Take a look at their sample reports

Any inspector worth their salt will have examples of their past reports on their website, or at least have them at the ready for you to take a look at when asked. Make sure these reports are thorough, but also concise and easy to read. A quality report will clearly lay out each problem, explaining why it matters and what they recommend you do to fix it. Make sure their reports include photos of the issues as well!

Inquire if you can accompany them during their inspection

You are not required to accompany your inspector during their inspection, but it is highly recommended to do so. Watching a professional go through and inspect the entirety of a home is a valuable experience, as they can explain what they are watching out for and how they identify any issues in real time. This will make it much easier for you to identify issues in your home in the future.

Make sure your inspector has experience with your type of home

The way in which a home is built can vary by time period, region, and style. An inspector who specializes in contemporary homes may miss some common issues when inspecting a home from the early 20th century (and vise-versa). Ensuring they are familiar with inspecting homes similar to yours lessens the chances of them missing anything.