dollar-billIf you are planning to buy or sell a home in Los Gatos, Almaden Valley, Saratoga or anywhere in Silicon Valley, you may be wondering which inspections or reports you’ll need and how much money you’ll be spending on them.

First, let’s distinguish between an inspection and a report. An inspection is done on site. That is, it’s done at the property or home that you want to buy or sell. Often the written findings of those inspections are called inspection reports, but some non-inspection reports are done without going to the site at all. For our purposes in this post, we’ll refer to reports as information generated off site.

The main inspections for a single family home in Silicon Valley are these:

Home or Property Inspection
Pest or Termite Inspection

Additonally, sometimes these next two are ordered upfront, and sometimes they are ordered only if there’s a “red flag” or reason for concern in the property inspection:

Roof Inspection
Chimney Inspection

Assuming that these inspections are done for typical homes, not very large, remote or historic homes, the total cost of the four inspections should be less than $1000. Many inspectors have a fee chart that factors in the size and age of the home, and many inspectors will charge more if the property is far from where they work. Another element in the cost is when you pay. Most companies have smaller fee if they are paid the day of inspection and a larger one if you
bill it to escrow.

Typically, the home inspection runs anywhere from $300 to $500 for a typical home and the termite inspection costs approximately $150-$325.

Depending on the circumstances and the property’s components, you may also elect to have these inspections done:

Pool and Spa
Heater (and Air Conditioning)
Structural (and drainage)

If your property is in a rural area or in the Los Gatos mountains or the east San Jose foothills, you may also want to order these inspections:

Percolation (for septic tank)
Well water

The main inspections are often done by sellers before a buyer is ever on the horizon. Buyers who are comfortable knowing the property’s condition tend to write better offers. So it is a win-win for everyone.

Who needs to order the extra inspections? Usually your home or property inspector will suggest more inspections if he or she sees a problem with some component of the home. In foothill locations such as Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Evergreen, Silver Creek, Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Los Altos Hills, and parts of Cupertino, Los Altos, and Palo Alto, hillsides are very close to the home and water may be a problem. With hilly areas, there can be drainage and foundation issues from the runoff. Our clay soils expand and contract with the amount of moisture being held and our concrete foundations are not nearly as strong as the expansive soils. In those situations, where foundations and drainage are a concern, you may want to pay for a structural inspection. Such an inspection can easily run $600 to $800, but the problems being addressed are likewise potentially expensive to correct.

Typical reports for Silicon Valley home sales include the Natural Hazart Report and Environmental Report, which together cost anywhere from about $85 to $140, depending on the provider and any extra information included (maps, the CLUE Report, the tax report, etc.)

For condo owners and buyers, usually just the home and pest inspection will suffice. But what about the massive homeowner documents? The thick pile of information can be very difficult for anyone to understand. One of the most crucial elements is the “reserve fund”. There are two sources for having the reserve funds analyzed locally. One of these sources also analyzes the completeness of the HOA packet and will note any red flags. Unfortunately the latter source has no “errors and omissions” insurance.

Each parcel and situation is unique. Please contact me for assistance with your own situation.



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Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at)
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
Silicon Valley:
Santa Clara County,
San Mateo County, and
Santa Cruz County.
Special focus on:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.
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Mary Pope-Handy's Live in Los Gatos blog won the 2007 Project Blogger contest, sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain

2007: Mary Pope-Handy and Frances Flynn Thorsen win the Project Blogger Contest for Mary's Live in Los Gatos blog. The contest was sponsored by
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Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley from the San Jose Mercury News poll of readers in 2011
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