You're preparing to buy your first home. You love the look and feel of it, but do you really know if all the mechanical systems, like the heating and air conditioning, work well? Unless you work as an HVAC mechanic, probably not. That's why most smart homebuyers get home inspections -- some lenders may require it. That's also why they require the seller to provide a clear heating and air conditioning letter at closing. This letter -- providing by a qualified HVAC professional -- verifies that the systems function properly and do not require repairs.
Pre-qualifying Before You Buy
Before you buy a house, you typically get pre-qualified for the purchase. This process helps you figure out how much house you can afford based on your financial situation and your credit profile. Then, you can look for houses that you can realistically afford to buy. You can also get a ballpark idea about the type of home loan, and interest rate you qualify for, as well as the down payment you need to pay at closing. Some buyers even take it a step further and get a pre-approval before they buy.
Finding a House
After you determine the price range for your potential house, you can start looking for a house you like and that fits your needs. This means looking at homes in the neighborhoods you want to live in. If you have kids, your decisions may also include the schools you'd like them to attend. Whatever the criteria you use, the odds are, you aren't thinking about what kind of heating and air conditioning system you want.
Appraising and Inspecting
Then, you get an appraisal. The lender usually requires this to confirm the value of the home. You can also get a home inspection. This is usually the responsibility of the buyer and not mandated by the lender. So you'll have to pay for it yourself. The inspector comes in and makes sure the home's major systems work properly, including the heating, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing systems. Also, he inspects the roof, the floor, the foundation, window, doors, walls, ceilings, and other structural elements.
Inspecting the HVAC
You can also get an inspection specific to certain systems, including the heating and air conditioning or you can require the seller to provide a clean heating and air conditioning letter as a condition of the sale. This letter states that the HVAC has been inspected by a professional and is in good shape. The HVAC professional inspects the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to make sure the mechanical parts work effectively and that the systems are clean, meaning the air ducts are dust-free, pollen-free and bacteria-free. This inspection normally costs $100 to $250.
HVAC Inspection by Seller
Some proactive sellers may have already done an HVAC inspection before listing the house. If so, they can relate any repairs they made or issues that remain. If issues still exist, you can use this information to negotiate a lower price -- the HVAC inspector should provide cost estimates -- or ask the seller to make the repairs as a condition of closing on the house.
Chris Brantley began writing professionally for a financial analysis firm in 1997. From 2000 to 2004, he worked as a financial advisor, specializing in retirement planning and earned his Series 7, Series 66 and insurance licenses. Brantley started his full-time writing career in 2012 and has written for a variety of financial websites, including insurance, real estate, loan and investment sites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia.