One of the best things you can do for yourselves when buying a home is getting a top notch home inspector.
While a great real estate agent can help you find a beautiful home, a great inspector can give you some peace of mind with making sure the house is ready to be a home for you and your family.
Why You Want an Inspection
Lenders have appraisals done on homes for the benefit of the seller, to help make sure that the house in sell-able condition.
They will go ahead and estimate the market value of a house based on the comparable sales in the neighborhood and the house’s condition.
Home inspections are to protect the buyers and with this probably being the biggest purchase in your life, you want to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Few things can drain a wallet faster than extensive (and expensive) home repairs.
A well trained home inspector will evaluate the house in more detail, looking at the structure and mechanical systems and identifying anything that needs to be repaired or replaced.
What to Expect with a Home Inspection
If you’re a first time home buyer, you may be wondering how exactly does a home inspection work.
While it can vary somewhat depending on the condition of the house, there are some general guidelines that have to be followed by licensed inspectors.
Inspections can take a few hours as the inspector is looking over the house from top to bottom and may need to dig in deeper if they see something that could be a problem.
Here are just some of the items that your home inspector will be reviewing:
Exterior: The house’s windows, siding, gutters, decks, and walkways will be looked over.
Roof: The inspecting will be keeping a close eye on the materials, chimney (if applicable), and drainage system.
Structural: Walls, floors, and foundations are checked for damage
Heating and Air-Conditioning Systems: The home’s furnace, duct-work, and central air are carefully investigated.
Plumbing: Your inspector will make sure the toilet, sinks, and faucets are functioning properly.
Electrical: The house’s wiring, central panel, and main panel will be reviewed to make sure they are safe.
Please keep in mind that cosmetic work doesn’t fall under the home inspection; those are things that can be handled by most homeowners and are relatively cheap to fix. The home inspector’s focus is on the function of your potential home.
Try to be present for the home inspection, besides gaining a better understanding of the home from a professional (which you will certainly need if you intend on buying the place), you can also ask questions and have him or her explain to you which problems are major and which ones are not.
Some uninformed buyers make the mistake of complaining over some small matter and completely miss a bigger problem because they couldn’t gauge a repair’s importance properly.
Soon after the physical inspection, you and your agent should receive a written summary and report from the home inspector.
You can use that information in your negotiations, either having the seller fix the items before you buy or having them lower the price accordingly.
How to Find a Home Inspector
Now that you understand how valuable having a home inspection is when it comes to buying a house, you may be curious about finding the right one for you.
Ask for references. Ask your friends, family, or co-workers if they recommend anyone local. If they don’t have have a suggestion, make sure you ask the inspector for references from recent clients.
Don’t go solely on price. I completely understand not wanting to overpay, but do not choose your inspector simply based on the price they quote. You’re about to make a huge purchase so consider it a wise investment to know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
Make sure they are properly insured. Just as licensing is important, you want to double check that your home inspector has insurance.
Thoughts on Home Inspections
If you’re in the market to buy, I hope these tips help you find a home that fits your needs. For those who have already gone through the process, what tips do you have on finding a well qualified home inspector?
One thing I’ve written about quite a few times is how important it is to find a bank that works for you and your needs. We discovered this firsthand with our joint accounts when we were having problems with the service at our previous bank. Fed up, we made the switch to ING Direct, now Capital One 360 and have been extremely happy with their service.
I took my own advice and finally closed my personal checking account with Wells Fargo. Every time I visited a branch, either inside or using their drive-thru, I felt as if I was being pushed into a new product. Beside the personal savings and check, I already use Wells Fargo for my business.
Apparently that wasn’t enough as I was constantly told about credit cards, mortgage, kids’ savings account, and more. I wasn’t upset with the tellers per se, 9 out of 10 times they were extremely polite and did their best to include the offers without being obnoxious, but I got the sense that they were being pushed to meet some kind of quota.
Finally, I just didn’t really feel like the checking account was a good deal for either myself or the bank. They gave minimal service for the free checking (which is their right) so I searched for another option and found out about Simple.
Making the Leap to Simple for My Checking Account
One highlight of being a personal finance blogger is finding services and products that can streamline our finances. My online buddy Jesse sent me an invite (currently the only way to open an account with them) and I signed up a couple of months ago.
Like any change I was a bit nervous with changing banks, but I figured I could go back if it didn’t work out. Simple is completely online and as the name suggests, it is designed to remove many hassles of traditional checking (like fees) and give customers more control with managing their money.
When I was looking over reviews, I noticed that many commented on how wonderfully integrated Simple’s smartphone app was with the rest of their system. Besides making mobile check deposits a cinch, Simple also let’s customers tag their transactions as they are made (a huge help when you want to track your spending).
As I opened my account, I found an easy to use interface guiding me through the process – such as linking external accounts. I received my Visa check card in the mail shortly after signing up. I’ve been using it ever since and I have to say I really enjoy. It’s not perfect, but there is a lot of things I love about Simple.
Simple Banking, Lots of Features
Ever though the interface is very streamlined and simplified, Simple offers a great amount of benefits to customers.
Automatic Saving: By far, the Goals portion is my favorite feature of Simple. With a few swipes, you can set and track your savings. That’s right, you can make saving up for a vacation painless and automatic. Forgot what you spent money on last month? You can use hashtags and photos with your notes, making it easier to search and sort through later.
Safe to Spend: When you log in to check on your balance, the amount you see highlighted is how much you can safely spend without dipping into your savings or hurting your balance for upcoming goal. It may not sound special, but for those who have been burned by banks that don’t show pending charges and charged overdraft fees, it’s useful. With a click you can get the total amount in your checking account, but it’s usually not necessary.
No Overdraft, Minimums, or Monthly Fees: The few fees listed are for services like expedited delivery and a paper copy fee (it’s free to view and print yourself). The one fee I’m not crazy about is the inactivity fee if you haven’t used your account in 180 days (~6 months). However if you’re using this for your personal checking account, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Fee-Free ATMs: Simple uses Allpoint’s network of ATMs, which currently boats over 55,000 locations nationwide so finding a machine nearby is pretty easy.
Mobile Check Deposit: Depositing checks with their app is straightforward – snap a picture of the front and back.
Now that I covered what I love about Simple, I want to mention some drawbacks. One annoying problem I had with the deposit is the delay for my new account. For any checking account that is less than 30 days hold, there is a fairly long hold (I believe it’s 5 business days), so make sure you keep your old checking account for a bit longer if you need quick access to checks.
Otherwise it’s not really a big deal once you’re no longer a new customer since the timeline shrinks down to a day after you deposited. Since Simple is offering only individual checking accounts, if you’re looking for a replacement for your joint checking or savings, I’m going to suggest Capital 360 and Ally Bank.
Thoughts on Better Banking
All in all, I’m a fan of Simple and will continue using it for my personal checking needs. Do you want to sign up for Simple? I’ve got a link to help you skip their waitlist!