The Industry Interview: Tips on Home Inspection with Dale Busbice
The real estate industry is much bigger than just agents and brokers. There are many different professions that contribute to a real estate transaction. The Industry Interview segment is our way of bringing you the best tips from these other real estate professionals who help make sales happen.
In this Interview, we talked with Dale Busbice from North Texas Home Inspections.
TFR: As an inspector do you find it better or worse for the homeowner to be present while you are inspecting the property?
Dale: It is best if the seller is not present. That is not always possible, so we work around that if it is a necessity. It is stressful for the seller seeing over 100 pictures taken and the inspector is not allowed to discuss the findings with them. If the house has a hidden access or you feel the need to inform the inspector of something, just leave a note. We have seen most everything; so normal access to attics and crawlspaces we can find.
TFR: What can a property owner do before the inspection to make everything smoother? Obviously fixing issues they already know about would help, but do you have other tips?
Dale: The inspector needs access to everything: water heaters, attic, crawlspace, furnace, electrical panel, entire backyard, etc. We will move light storage to get to something, but if there is heavy box or a lot of boxes it will show “no access” on the report, and normally that means another trip with a trip charge. So make sure we can access the property. If you have a question, just ask us.
TFR: How can a property owner make sure the inspector has access to all areas to be inspected? Do you find sellers forget to leave keys to outbuildings or have access blocked to areas you need to inspect
Dale: This happens a lot. We find locks on electrical panels, irrigation controls, the well house etc. Another common problem is the sellers leave a car in the garage below the attic pull down access. That could mean another trip with a trip charge.
TFR: How much lead time do you need to complete an inspection? The housing market has been heating up. What is the time frame from the order received to the inspection being completed in North Texas on average?
Dale: At this time of year we are about 3 days out. You call Monday and we can get to you by Wednesday. We send all of our reports the same day, so the report will be in your email before 9PM in most cases. Last summer we had to turn buyers away. We could not get to them in their 5 day option period. If realtors are busy, we are to. We have 2 inspectors so we can get to most buyers during their option period.
TFR: Who owns the inspection report? It’s a question we get here a lot. The answer is: whoever paid for it. Can you talk about that?
Dale: Good question. The report is owned by the person who paid for it. We will not share it with anyone unless the purchaser OK’s it, unless we have a court order. Normally the buyer’s agent is copied unless the buyer specifically tells us not to. The buyers agent will send an addendum to the sellers agent stating what they want repaired. In some cases the agent will send the whole report. Understand that the inspector is still is not able to discuss the report with the seller unless the buyer gives the OK. Some seller agents don’t want the whole report because the seller or the sellers agent is required to disclose any inspection reports they have received in the last 2 years. So if the deal does not go through, legally the report should be disclosed to future buyers.
TFR: What does a typical inspection report cost in North Texas? What factors make it more expensive?
Dale: The pricing is based on square footage. It ranges from $300, up to thousands for mansions. A 2000 square foot house will cost about $375 for the home inspection. We do not charge extra for sprinkler systems, septic systems, gas appliance testing, or thermal imaging but some inspectors do. We charge extra for outbuildings (even more if they have an apartment), wells, water sampling, radon testing, etc.
TFR: What is the cost to get a water well inspected? Does it cost more? Do you test the actual water or just the mechanisms like the pump?
Dale: We have 2 different fees. For just a mechanical test of the well it is $25. If you want a water sample test, it is an extra $100. The water sample cannot be on the weekend or Friday due to the lab will not accept samples greater than 24 hours and it takes the 24 hours to test. They don’t test on weekends. Coliform is found in many water samples. This can be a product of sewer effluent leaking into well water. Well heads should be 100 feet or more from any part of the septic system.
TFR: What are three small repairs you see that you wish sellers would just fix beforehand so they wouldn’t be marked in red on the report?
1. Corner pops. These are cracks within 3 feet of a corner on the foundation. They are not structural but should be repaired with hydraulic concrete. Costs about $10.
2. Trim hedges and foliage at least 1 foot from structure. Costs $0 if you do it yourself.
3. Auto-safety reverse on garage door openers. On most units it is called close force. As the door is coming down you should be able to stop it with your hand, If not reduce close force. $0
TFR: When the buyer gets the report do you help them read and understand it? What is the follow-up a good inspector goes through with a client?
Dale: We go over every picture and every deficiency that will be on the report if the buyer comes to the inspection. If the buyer cannot be there then we encourage them to call us once they receive the report. About half actually call us. Normally we recommend coming at the end of the inspection to give us time to inspect without distractions. Depending on the size and age of house that can be anywhere from 1.5 hours to 4 hours.
TFR: Does the water and electricity have to be on to complete an inspection report accurately? Or can you do your job if the electricity is off and the water system is weather proofed for winter?
Dale: Normally we won’t inspect a property unless all of the utilities are on. We know it is a pain especially with foreclosures, but it is the best way to give an honest assessment.
TFR: What are some of the more common inspection problems that cause deals to fall through? Is it usually a major repair or many small repairs?
Dale: We see it both ways. Foundations are always a concern as are roofs. Some sellers simply do not have the money to fix these large items and it causes the deal to fall through. We also see people walk away from something as simple as an old water heater. We give our opinion but it is up to the buyer in the end. Some people have changed their mind on the floor plan or location and just use the inspection report as an excuse to opt-out of the contract.
TFR: After negotiated repairs finish, will you go back to verify they were made, correctly?
Dale: Yes, but there is an additional fee.
TFR: As a seller, not the buyer of a property, is it worth getting an inspection on my house I am considering putting on the market?
Dale: If you decide to do this, repair everything you think might be an issue. Remember you are going to have to disclose the report, so you want it to be as clean as possible. If there are things on the report you want to fix, after verifying the repair the inspector can note on the report that they were repaired. In some cases it is also a good idea if the house is in bad shape. It keeps deals from falling through if prospective buyers are aware that, for instance, it needs a new roof. You don’t want it off the market just for a prospective buyer to find they are not interested in making repairs.
We appreciate Dale taking the time to give us these tips.
Note: As a policy at our brokerage we always give multiple suggestions for all service providers our clients might work with. Further, your broker should never take a referral fee from a service provider unless they disclose it to you.
If you have other questions for Dale you can reach him here:
North Texas Home Inspections
(972) 467-7645 (DALLAS, MCKINNEY, FRISCO, PLANO, ALLEN)
(903) 375-9885 (TEXOMA, DENTON, GAINESVILLE)
Texas First Realty