The all-important home inspection has taken place. Your inspector has provided you with a thick report, much of which you don’t understand. Where to start? We know digesting all of this information about your new home can be a bit overwhelming. Below are the key questions you should ask after your home inspection.

Are there any deal breakers?

When buyers receive their home inspection report, they tend to panic at the number of problems listed. In most cases, there is no cause for concern.

The inspector is required to list any and all issues that he discovers.

The vast majority will likely be relatively small and easy fixes, such as loose light fixtures and wobbly railings.

Ask the inspector if he found any potential deal breakers, such as foundation issues, buried oil tanks, termite damage, aluminum wiring, asbestos, mold, and unpermitted work. These larger issues are far more costly to mitigate. With the home inspection contingency, buyers have the option to walk away from the deal if they are not comfortable.

Who should I have fix that? Do I need to bring in any specialists?

The short answer is yes. If you are requesting that the sellers fix an inspection issue, per the contract, a licensed professional must do the work. If the sellers want to fix it themselves, they must your (the buyer’s) permission. Your inspector and realtor can advise on the type of professional you’ll need (or if it’s an issue you can fix yourself later).

What issues must be fixed before settlement? What are the longer term issues that need to be addressed?

Ask your inspector to break the issues down into three categories: issues that must be addressed before closing (electrical work is not up to code), issues to fix in the near term after settlement (adding GFCI outlets), and longer-term issues that must be addressed (the roof will need to be replaced within two years).

It’s important to note here that certain issues relating to safety, code violations, and structural issues, may prevent your lender from releasing the funds needed for settlement.

If this was your house, would you fix it?

This question is a great one to pose to your home inspector. His input will help you plan your negotiation strategy and budget accordingly.

How much will this repair cost?

While your home inspector is not a contractor, he should be able to provide you with a ballpark cost on most fixes. Consult with your Realtor as well. This cost information will help you negotiate with the sellers to move forward. Both can very likely provide names of trusted contractors you can use for the work.

What are my options?

Ask your Realtor to strategize with you on how to respond to the home inspection report. The basic options are to walk away from the deal, ask for a credit at closing in lieu of the seller making the repairs, ask the seller to make some of the repairs, or do nothing.

To this last point – it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. For example, if you find there are plumbing issues in the master bath, but you know you plan to remodel it right away, don’t bother asking for a fix or credit. Save your requests for the bigger issues that really matter.

The Bottom Line

The home inspection report can be overwhelming. Don’t let the conversation end on inspection day. Use both your home inspector and your Realtor for advice on what to fix, how to negotiate, and if need be, when to walk away.

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