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First-time Home Buyer? Get an Inspection

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inspection_consumer_topRISMEDIA, July 9, 2009-As many consumers are considering buying a house to take advantage of first-time home buyer tax credits, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) reminds them about the importance of getting a professional home inspection. According to the IRS, the first-time home buyer tax credit allows taxpayers who have not owned another principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase to deduct the lesser of $8,000 or 10% of the purchasing price of their home if they purchase before Dec. 1, 2009. This has encouraged many young professionals in their 20s and 30s to consider buying a house or a condominium.

“To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, home buyers will want to learn as much as they can before they buy,” said Bill Richardson, 2009 ASHI President. “A home inspection may identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights, as well as the need for maintenance to keep the house or condominium in good shape. With many choices on the market right now, including foreclosures and short sales that can sometimes be riskier for buyers, an inspection is especially important.”

A standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components. The report will include covered systems and components the home inspector finds that are not functioning properly, significantly deficient, unsafe, or are near the end of their service lives.

According to a GAO (Government Accountability Office) study*, many home buyers do not know that appraisals are not home inspections and that the Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that buyers obtain a voluntary home inspection. Many also think that FHA performs inspections automatically or do not realize that they need to initiate an inspection.

“Home buyers should know a professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house,” Richardson said. “It is not an appraisal, which determines market value.”

Richardson also said that consumers should know that they can hire a home inspector after they’ve made an offer on a home and before closing. They also can request to have their offer be contingent on the findings of a home inspection, and have it stated in the contract. In some cases, home buyers also may be able to renegotiate their offers because of the results of the home inspection.

ASHI members applauded Congress for reinforcing the importance of a home inspection with the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, which recently passed by a wide margin in the House of Representatives. Several provisions in the bill, which were supported by ASHI and championed on Capitol Hill by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), advocate for first-time and low-income home buyers.

The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act includes language requiring the HUD to:

- Inform potential home buyers in both English and Spanish of the availability and importance of obtaining an independent home inspection;
- Publish HUD’s “For Your Protection: Get A Home Inspection” and “Ten Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector” advisories; and
- Create a new booklet for home buyers advising them to obtain a voluntary home inspection addressing both FHA and non-FHA home sales.
- Home buyers can locate their closest ASHI inspector to schedule an inspection through ASHI’s website at www.ASHI.org. ASHI’s “Find an Inspector” tool allows homeowners to locate an inspector in their area by language or services provided.

For more information, visit www.ASHI.org.   

*Study conducted by surveying the experiences of FHA loan customers.

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