Do You Need a Home Inspection When Buying a House?
This question is becoming more common among homebuyers in strong seller’s markets. When desperate buyers compete against multiple offers, they’re tempted to waive the home inspection to appease the sellers. Some folks wonder if it’s worth paying for a home inspection at all.
According to the National Association of Realtors, home sales shot up to their highest level in 14 years during August 2020. Roughly 80% of those homebuyers hired a home inspector. The home inspection is the most substantial contingency that a buyer possesses once they’re under contract.
The home inspection process allows the buyer to spend more time investigating the overall health of the home. Homebuyers are often very curious about the home inspector’s findings. They wonder what steps happen during the inspection and how to fix the problems that arise from the home inspection report.
We’ll explain how it works and why you need a home inspection. We’ll also show you how home inspections can save you money in the long run.
Why Do You Need to Hire a Home Inspector?
The main reason to hire a home inspector is to identify defects within specific accessible areas of a home. If issues go unnoticed before the sale goes through, you might pay thousands of dollars to fix them later. A home inspection is a non-evasive visual examination of the accessible areas of a property.
When a home buyer puts an offer on a home, they’ve only been in the house one or two times at this point. Some people will even buy a home sight unseen. The home inspection offers the buyer time to perform their due diligence to make sure the key components function properly.
After performing a home inspection, the home seller may pay for major repairs that come up in the inspection report. These repairs are much more expensive than the cost of an inspection.
Since the home sale is contingent on these repairs, the home seller is more likely to hire people to do them right. If there is tension between parties, it’s wise to negotiate a lower sales price rather than have the seller perform the repairs.
Having a home inspection limits your chances of moving into a home with unknown safety issues or structural flaws. Keep in mind that a home inspection will reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist. It reveals only those defects observed on the date of the inspection.
The Logistics of a Home Inspection
It’s essential to understand the logistics of the home inspection process. Such as:
Who pays for the inspection?
How much does a home inspection cost?
When should the inspection take place?
Should the buyer’s agent attend the inspection?
How long does it usually take to perform the inspection?
How does the home inspection contingency work?
Let’s review these questions now.
Who Pays for the Home Inspection?
The home inspection is paid for by the home buyer in most cases. They will hire a professional home inspector to look at the entire home, from the roof to the foundation.
Some sellers will pay to have a home inspection performed before they list their home for sale. This step is a smart move when selling your home. It reveals repair issues that can be taken care of before ever going under contract.
Most sellers do not hire a home inspector, though. The home inspection part of the selling process is typically the buyer’s sole responsibility.
If you’re purchasing a home where the seller recently had an inspection performed, you still benefit from paying for your own inspection. It’s risky to trust a report coming from an opposing party whose interest is to sell their property. This point is one of the main reasons why most sellers do not hire an inspector before listing. They leave it up to the buyer to perform their own due diligence.
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
A basic home inspection typically costs between $250 and $450, depending on the home’s size and type. The age of the home can affect the price as well. If you’re living in an expensive area such as New York, your home inspection could easily cost $1,000 or more. The purchase price of the home should not matter in the cost of your inspection.
There are also many other types of inspections to consider in addition to the necessary home inspection. You need to hire specialized inspectors for unique items such as radon, mold, sewer, structural, and HVAC. The additional inspection costs can add up quickly.
When Does the Home Inspection Take Place?
Most home inspections take place within a few days of the property going under contract. Once a buyer has a signed sales contract, they will deposit their earnest money first. Then they will schedule their home inspection. Sometimes, Realtors will schedule it for their clients.
If the seller is performing a home inspection, it will happen before the home is listed on the market. Roughly 20% of all home inspections are paid for by the seller. This is becoming a trend in certain areas.
Should the Buyer’s Agent Attend the Home Inspection?
Some buyer’s agents will attend the home inspection, but it is not mandatory. A few states recommend that the buyer’s realtor not attend the home inspection. They convey that Realtors may influence the process.
This problem has been presented in court cases recently, so state realtor associations have recommended that realtors stay out of this process. Every State and brokerage handles this situation differently.
How Long Does the Home Inspection Take?
The home inspection itself takes around two to three hours, depending on the type of home. Most home inspection reporting software can generate the report and email it to you within minutes after completing the inspection. Some older software may take a day or two because they print the information in physical copies.
The Home Inspection Contingency
Most residential real estate sales contracts have inspection contingencies written into them. This contingency typically covers a certain amount of time for the buyer to hire an inspector, receive the report, and document any repair requests.
Once the seller receives the report and any repair requests, they will negotiate these items with the buyer’s agent. Once an agreement has been reached, the two real estate agents will add these terms to the sales contract. The seller usually has one to two weeks to make any of the repairs needed.
The home inspection is one of the most substantial contract contingency that a buyer possesses. Once the contract is past this step, it’s hard for a home buyer to back out of the deal.
What Should be Covered in a Home Inspection?
Here are the main areas that you’ll want to be addressed in your home inspection report:
The Heating and Cooling Systems
When the home inspector looks in the attic, they will ensure no decayed wood or structural damage exists. Additionally, they will check for proper ventilation, water penetration, and electrical issues.
When checking the basement, the home inspector will look for signs of moisture and cracks in the basement walls. They will also check for water intrusion and ensure that the sump pump is working correctly.
The home inspector will check the plumbing, electrical outlets, GFCI functionality, and proper ventilation in the bathrooms. Additionally, a bathroom inspection includes drains and toilet functionality.
When the home inspector looks at the bedrooms, they’ll ensure that the ceilings, floors, and walls are straight. They will also check for damage, cracks, or strains in the structure. They’ll check the electricity and lights in every room, as well as the air conditioning and heating circulation.
When the home inspector is looking in the kitchen, they’ll ensure that the plumbing works properly. They’ll check the refrigerator, oven, stove, and garbage disposal. They test the dishwasher and water pressure, as well.
The Heating and Cooling Systems
The home inspector will check that there is no gas odor near the heating and cooling systems. This can be a sign of a gas leak. They’ll also ensure that both the heating and AC are working correctly. They’ll make sure that the air is traveling correctly through your home from the HVAC system.
The Electrical Systems
The inspection of the electrical systems will include checking the wiring and electrical panel. They’ll look for exposed wiring and anything that is out-of-code. Additionally, telephone and network cables are checked for safety, and service panels are inspected.
The Plumbing System
When the home inspector looks at the plumbing system, they’ll check for leaks or damage. Additionally, they’ll ensure that the water heater is working correctly. They’ll also check its temperature, ensuring that its maximum temperature can’t go above 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the home inspector looks at the roof, they will identify any areas damaged by hail. They will also look for rotten wood around chimneys, missing shingles, and potential water penetration.
The Exterior Structure and Grounds
The home inspector will inspect the foundation and assess the health of the overall structure. They will look for cracks or bowing in the foundation floor and supporting walls. Cracks protruding from the corner of windows and doors can be an indicator that the foundation has shifted.
They will also look at the quality of the deck, fence, shed, and any detached structures. Many home inspectors will walk the lot and look for anything out of the ordinary.
What Isn’t Covered in a Home Inspection?
While a home inspection covers most issues, it doesn’t cover water contamination or test for radon levels. Additionally, the home inspector might not look for mold. Modern home inspectors include options for these services that can be added to your inspection report.
A home inspection won’t include checking for asbestos or pests. If you have worries about these issues, you’ll need to hire specialty inspectors to inspect them. Specialty inspections may also require additional time to complete and will cost more money. Think carefully about which items are necessary for the home you choose. Consult with your Realtor before ordering your home inspection.
How To Resolve Inspection Objections
Once you’ve performed the home inspection, the issues that come up in the inspection report will be addressed. You’ll decide who will repair what and which repairs must be made before the sale goes through.
The listing agent and buyer’s agent will work back and forth to negotiate a reasonable response for both parties. Once terms have been agreed upon, the agents will put these details in writing and add them to the sales contract through an amendment.
The seller will have the repairs completed and provide receipts as proof of the work performed. Before the closing, the buyer will do a final-walkthrough to verify that all of the repairs are complete.
If the inspection turns out to be a disaster, you may want to walk away from the deal altogether. Your Realtor can help you process through all of your options.
How to Find A Good Home Inspector
Home inspectors come in many various forms. Some states, such as California, do not have a state licensing requirement for home inspectors. One way to find a good inspector in these states would be to search the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors website. This resource will help you find an inspector who adheres to the guidelines of Internachi.
Local Realtors are also a good source for finding home inspectors. They have worked with many of the inspectors in the area and typically have a few favorites that they prefer. It would be good to have 2 or 3 to choose from, as good inspectors can get booked up quickly.
As many real estate markets across the country are experiencing low inventory, buyers are rethinking the value of the home inspection. In tight situations, sales contracts will state that “no repairs will be made.” Even under these circumstances, it is essential that you still have the home inspected before buying it.
Even newly built homes that have never been lived in have issues. You can have your home inspected for a small fee to know what problems you may be inheriting when you purchase the home. We highly recommend never skipping a home inspection when buying a house.