Home inspections can make or break the deal

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Let’s be honest. The thought of a home inspection can prompt anxiety in both buyers and sellers.

What will the inspection uncover? Are there any hidden dangers? Will an unsatisfactory inspection kill the deal?

“There’s no pass or fail. You can buy a home in any condition you want,” said Robert Giuseppetti of Pillar To Post Home Inspections. “Sometimes we find major issues with the home and the person can decide they don’t want to buy that house, or may do some negotiation on the price, or who repairs it.”

Sharon Ciminelli, president of the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors, says a home inspection is a way for home buyers to find out if the house is safe.

“It is not required by New York State or by the bank if they’re using one,” said Ciminelli, a broker associate with MJ Peterson Real Estate.

“We’re not using the home inspection to renegotiate the price of the house. If it needs a new furnace we need to know that. We want to know the major safety issues,” she said.

Getting a home inspection before you make the biggest purchase of your life is strongly advised.

It helped Gary and Carrie Occhino decide whether to move forward on a deal.

“I am elated, ecstatic and extremely thankful, said Gary Occhino, who recently closed on a house in Orchard Park.

He says some problems detected during a home inspection didn’t turn out to be a deal killer.

“These were all what I consider to be safety issues. They weren’t small things,” he said.

He says about $7,000 worth of problems needed to be fixed; things like high radon levels in the basement and a rusted electrical panel.

Carrie Occhino says she fell in love with the place, but knew the safety issues had to be fixed.

“I really just had to take a step back and see it as our kids are going to be here. We’re going to be here, and this needs to be a place that needs to be safe first,” she said.

Mark Kiczewski did the inspection for the Occhino family.

“When you open the panel just to look where the circuit breakers are, everything looks normal in most people’s panels. It’s when you get behind the panel that you see the problems,” said Kiczewski, an inspector with Pro Spec Home Inspection.

The home inspection proved invaluable. In the end, the problems were fixed. Gary and Carrie got the house they wanted.

“For a few hundred dollars that it may cost to get you a home inspection and get the right testing done, it’s well worth it in our case,” Carrie Occhino said.

A typical home inspection can take about two to three hours and cost between $300 and $500 depending on additional services like radon testing.

Home inspector Robert Giuseppetti encourages his clients to be there during the inspection and ask lots of questions.

“We can actually show you in person, hey look at this. This is causing further issues for you,” he said. “When you’re purchasing a home for any amount of money you really want to be there to know what you’re getting into.”

The typical home inspection focuses on the condition and structure. Inspectors should examine things like exterior of the home, the building’s foundation, roof coverings, flashing and gutters. The attic, basement, garage and electrical components should also be checked.

“It’s a great educational tool as well as looking for issues with the house,” said Paul Nagalski, a past president of the National Association of Home Inspectors.

Nagalski, who’s been in the business for 25 years, says inspectors are sometimes limited by what’s accessible in the house.

“We’re running into situations with a lot of totally finished basements where you can’t see the walls at all. Some attics aren’t accessible at all due to either shelving installations or sealed areas,” said Nagalski, who operates Accurate Home Inspections.

Drew and Kalie Gottler remember finding a house they had their hearts set on.

“We were in love with the home. It was the bedroom space we wanted. The house space. The backyard was great,” said Kalie Gottler. “But there was just a really big problem with the walls in the back.”

She says a home inspector discovered that the back wall was rotting out.

“He could actually stick a screwdriver through the wall and we could see outside,” she said. “ I was like really. What is that going to mean. And what’s the extent of the damage.”

Kalie’s husband Drew says he immediately thought of the Tom Hanks movie, “The Money Pit,” which is about a couple who attempt to renovate a recently purchased house that quickly falls apart.

Drew and Kalie passed on the house, but say it was a “blessing in disguise” because they ended up finding the perfect home.

“You pay a fee whether it’s a good or bad inspection. But it’s absolutely worth it when you’re looking at the cost of home ownership,” she said.

Sharon Ciminelli says it isn’t only the buyer looking to get a home inspection these days.

“A lot of sellers are getting the home inspection done and leaving it for the purchaser. The purchaser still has the option to use their own home inspector,” said Ciminelli. “And if it’s a reputable home inspector then they might accept the one that’s already done.”

It’s certainly one way for sellers to figure out if there are any potential issues before listing a house on the market.

Robert Giuseppetti says people shouldn’t run away from a property because it has an issue.

“Pretty much every home’s going to have an issue,” he said. “And pretty much anything can be fixed, but sometimes maybe the amount of money you have to spend on fixing isn’t maybe worth it to certain people.”

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