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Home inspection checklist for buyers: FHA and VA loan guidelines

An appraisal is essential in the homebuying process because it determines the fair market value of the home you’re buying. While a professional appraiser does inspect the property, an appraisal isn’t a replacement for a thorough home inspection. Completing a home inspection checklist for buyers can increase your confidence about a home’s condition. It can also reveal costly issues and provide the opportunity to ask the seller to fix problems before closing. In addition, a home inspection may be required to obtain homeowner’s insurance.

Both appraisers and home inspectors do a walk-through of the property. An appraiser is looking for key factors that can alter a home’s value, such as location, square footage and general condition. On the other hand, a standard home inspection includes a comprehensive checklist to evaluate the home, looking for structural, electrical or mechanical flaws. The home inspector provides a report that you can use to request repairs, renegotiate the offer or help you budget for maintenance down the line.

Home inspections are generally not required when using a mortgage to buy a home. While basic inspections are built into the FHA loan and VA loan appraisal process, they’re primarily concerned with health and safety issues. However, as safeguard protection from expensive future repairs, FHA and VA borrowers are strongly encouraged to have a full and comprehensive home inspection conducted along with the basic one provided for with the home appraisal requirement.

Categories of home inspection checklists

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, home inspection checklists may include but are not limited to these ten main categories.

  1. Structural system: Structural components, such as the foundation and framing
  2. Exterior: Wall coverings, exterior doors, decks, porches, balconies, eaves, grading and surface drainage and adjacent walkways, patios and driveways
  3. Roof system: Roofing materials, roof drainage systems, flashing, skylights and chimneys
  4. Plumbing system: Fixtures and faucets, drain and waste systems, water heating equipment, vent systems such as chimneys, fuel storage and distribution systems, sewage ejectors, sump pumps and related piping
  5. Electrical system: Electrical panels, visible wiring, and a representative number of outlets and installed lighting fixtures and switches
  6. Heating system: Installed heating equipment, vent systems, flues, and chimneys
  7. Interior: Walls, ceilings, floors, steps, stairways, railings, countertops, garage doors, installed ovens, ranges, surface cooking appliances, microwave ovens, dishwashing machines, and food waste grinders and a representative number of installed cabinets, doors and windows
  8. Insulation and ventilation: Insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces, ventilation of attics and foundation areas, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and similar exhaust systems
  9. Fireplace and solid fuel-burning appliances: Fuel-burning fireplaces, stoves and fireplace inserts

How to choose a home inspector

Consider looking for a home inspector before making an offer on a home. While your real estate agent can refer you to professional inspectors, you can also use other resources for referrals, such as local online communities or professional organizations. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) offer certification and an online search tool to find inspectors around the country. State organizations also provide lists of inspectors alongside their credentials and services.

Before choosing a home inspector, request references and a sample report on a similar home; next, ask what the inspection includes. For example, if your home has a swimming pool, will that be inspected? Lastly, confirm that the inspector will allow you to tag along on the home inspection. You’ll learn more about the home’s systems and equipment and helpful maintenance tips.

How do home inspection checklists differ for FHA and VA loan programs?

The FHA or VA appraisal process is intended to protect you from buying a home that needs more maintenance and repairs than you can afford. An appraisal isn’t a replacement for a standard home inspection that will detail the condition of specific systems and what might need maintenance or repair.

Appraisal and inspection requirements for FHA loans

FHA loans may be easier to qualify for because these government-backed loans don’t require a large down payment and are more flexible with credit scores than conventional loans. However, that does mean that the appraisal requirements are usually stricter. In addition to determining the home’s current market value, the appraiser analyzes the property to make sure that your home meets the minimum property requirements and is safe and livable. HUD doesn’t require FHA home inspections.

Only certified FHA appraisers can perform appraisals for FHA loans. According to Homelight, an FHA appraiser’s checklist includes exterior and interior property requirements related to:

  • Safety: Protects the occupants’ health and safety
  • Security: Protects the property’s security
  • Soundness: Ensures the property is structurally sound without problems that compromise its integrity

If the appraiser finds items that make the home unsafe or unlivable, repairs must be made before the FHA loan can move forward. FHA appraisals are valid for 120 days.

Appraisal and inspection requirements for VA loans

VA loans, also known as Veterans Affairs mortgages, offer veterans home loan rates that are lower than traditional mortgages and can allow veterans to borrow up to 100% of the property’s value. After applying for a VA loan and making an offer, a VA-approved appraiser will appraise the home to ensure it meets minimum property requirements (MPRs). According to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, MPRs are the legal requirements that veterans must meet before moving into a safe, sound, sanitary home.

The over thirty requirements range from remediating lead-based paint to rules concerning safe year-round access to the home. While the appraisal is required, a VA home inspection is not. However, it’s strongly recommended to check for any major defects before you purchase a home.

Connect with a loan officer for more information on any aspect of the homebuying process.

The above information is for educational purposes only. All information, loan programs and interest rates are subject to change without notice. All loans subject to underwriter approval. Terms and conditions apply. Always consult an accountant or tax advisor for full eligibility requirements on tax deduction.

By |Published On: September 16th, 2022|Categories: Guild Blog, Mortgage 101|Tags: , , , |

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About the Author: Guild Mortgage

Founded in 1960 when the modern U.S. mortgage industry was just forming, Guild Mortgage Company is a nationally recognized independent mortgage lender providing residential mortgage products and local in-house origination and servicing. Guild’s collaborative culture and commitment to diversity and inclusion enable it to deliver a personalized experience for each customer. With more than 4,000 employees and over 250 retail branches, Guild has relationships with credit unions, community banks, and other financial institutions and services loans in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Guild’s highly trained loan professionals are experienced in government-sponsored programs such as FHA, VA, USDA, down payment assistance programs and other specialized loan programs. Guild Mortgage Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guild Holdings Company, whose shares of Class A common stock trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GHLD.