The best way to avoid unpleasant surprises when buying Oahu real estate is to arrange for a home inspection before you buy. A home inspection is just one of the activities you will complete as part of the due diligence on the purchase of your Oahu home. Other inspections (e.g., termite, possibly mold or structural, etc.) and review of documents (e.g., disclosures, title report, CCRs, condo documents, permit packages) will also usually be required under the Purchase Contract.
A good home inspection is an objective, top-to-bottom examination of a home and everything that comes with it. A standard inspection report includes a review of the home’s heating and air-conditioning systems (not common in most Oahu homes for sale); plumbing and wiring; roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation and basement (also not very common with Oahu real estate).
Getting a professional inspection is crucial, especially for older homes, such as most homes in East Oahu, because age often takes its toll on the roof, plumbing, wiring, and other parts of the home that may not be evident the first time your walk through. Problems can also be the result of neglect or hazardous repair work, failed Do-It-Yourself projects or code violations.
Even a new home (such as many homes in Hawaii Kai and Leeward Oahu) should be inspected, however, to ensure things were constructed properly and that there was not oversight or human error during construction.
Education is another good reason for getting an inspection. Most buyers want to learn as much as they can about their Oahu home purchase so they can protect their investment. An examination by a home inspector helps in this learning process. I recommend that Buyers attend their home inspection if at all possible. Even Mainland buyers should fly in for this inspection, if feasible.
Ask if you can follow the home inspector on his or her rounds. Most inspectors are glad to share their knowledge, and you’ll be able to ask plenty of questions.
SELLERS REAL PROPERTY DISCLOSURES
A good home inspector will also review the Seller’s Real Property Disclosures (SRPD), which are required by law, from the seller, if these are available at the time of inspection. SRPDs are signed by the seller and should reveal any material defects or attributes of the property, which would be material to value, such as easements, encroachments, past flooding, nuisances, past repairs or damage, hazards, etc.
FINDING A HOME INSPECTOR FOR YOUR OAHU REAL ESTATE PURCHASE
Home Shoppe Hawaii can certainly recommend an experienced home inspector. We can give you a list of three or four home inspectors and you can choose the one that best suits your needs. We refer ONLY licensed General Contractors as home inspectors, as home inspectors on Oahu do not have to be licensed or certified, and anyone can hold themselves out as a home inspector. You can also find one through friends or co-workers, or look in the Yellow Pages or online under “Building Inspection” or “Home Inspection.”
Home inspections cost from a few to several hundred dollars, depending on the size of the house, type of property (single family or condo) and location on Oahu. You may find the cost of inspection high, but it is money well spent. Think of it as an investment in your investment – your future home.
OAHU HOME INSPECTION TIMING AND RESULTS
Homebuyers usually arrange for an inspection immediately after signing the Purchase Contract and opening escrow. The Purchase Contract use for purchase of Oahu real estate spells out a specific time period for conducting property due diligence, usually, it will be between 10 and 20 days.
The results of the home inspection may be available immediately or within a few days. The home inspector will review his or her findings with you and alert you to any costly or potentially hazardous conditions that were apparent in the inspection. Ultimately, whether or not to purchase the Oahu home for sale is up to you. The home inspection report is just one factor you should use in your decision of whether to go forward with the purchase of Oahu real estate or to cancel the purchase contract. Often a buyer will negotiate a closing cost credit or reduction in purchase price, if there are significant problems revealed in the inspection, and the buyer does not want to cancel.