Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Should You Get a Home Inspection?
The short answer is yes, the long answer is the rest of this article. Read on to learn why you should never skip a professional home inspection when looking to buy your next, or first home.
Buying a new home is fun and exciting. Weeks, maybe months have gone by, and your dream home finally comes on the market!
“Holy crap!” - You scream out to yourself.
You immediately call your realtor and tell them you want to submit an offer right away. You're so in love with the house; in fact, you send a full price offer without thinking twice.
Your realtor starts writing up the paperwork straight away. You’re almost exploding with anticipation when your agent calls you and asks:
"Do you want me to include an inspection contingency?"
Your answer to this all-important question must be a resounding “YES!”
What is an Inspection Contingency?
An inspection contingency is very simple. It’s a box your realtor will check that states you have the right to have the property professionally inspected by a licensed inspector, and then decide based on their report how you would like to proceed.
There are a few ways you may proceed after receiving the inspection report. You can:
Move forward with the sale as-is
Negotiate the price with the seller to reflect the results of the inspection
Ask the seller to repair and replace items found by the inspector
Back out of the sale completely
What you decide to do here is entirely your call. It’s not uncommon to back out of a home sale after an inspection, in fact, according to Bankrate, between 2015 and 2016 33% of real estate contracts were terminated because of an inspection.
What exactly causes potential buyers to back out? I don't know. It could be many things from second-guessing the house and needing an excuse to back out, to just not liking the results of the inspection.
As long as you include the inspection contingency in your home offer, you will be able to walk away if your unsatisfied with the homes' condition without any penalties. I.e., losing your earnest money deposit.
The Dangers of Skipping A Home Inspection
It's 100% your call if you want to have an inspection done. Inspections can be a bit pricy, ranging from $400 - $500, and you'll have to bear the brunt of the cost as the buyer. The price is worth it though.
If you opt-out of a home inspection, you could find yourself facing severe problems down the road. Inspectors look for every single possible thing that can be wrong with a home. They look for:
Potential wood rot
Crawl space issues
When Contenza Properties renovates a house, we order an inspection or have our contractor do a walkthrough, and do our best to take care of all the major concerns they caught. But we are not perfect, and it’s always a good idea to be safe. Especially when it comes to buying something as impactful on your life as a home.
To illustrate how costly passing on a home inspection can be, I’ll share a story with you. When we bought our first property to renovate and resell, we failed to obtain an inspection. Our lender ordered one, but we didn’t ask for a copy purely out of inexperience.
After we finished rehabbing the house, we put it on the market and got our first offer in a few days. The buyers ordered an inspection, and the report uncovered some structural issues with the house.
We had no idea these issues existed, and it wound up costing us thousands of dollars to fix correctly. If only we had viewed the inspection report!
Thanks to this experience, we now make sure to get an inspection of each house we buy before we begin renovations. This helps us ensure safety and a happy buyer.
Repair And Replace Period
After you have your home inspection, if you don't back out, you will enter the repair and replace period. The repair and replace time frame is exactly what it sounds like.
During this time, the buyers and sellers will come together to determine what will be repaired and replaced before the house goes to closing.
This is all negotiable, but from our experience, we've typically seen buyers requesting sellers to repair and replace significant faults with the home. Not simple cosmetic issues.
What You Should Ask To Be Repaired & Replaced
During the repair and replace period, here are the things we believe you should ask to have remedied by the sellers.
Major systems such as plumbing, electrical, or HVAC
Any foundational issues
Major safety concerns
It's expected by sellers that most buyers will ask for these types of repairs anyway.
What You Shouldn't Ask To Be Repaired & Replaced
There are also some things you should probably not be asking for. After all, you’re not buying a new construction home where you get to pick out every little detail.
Don’t ask to change paint colors
Don’t ask for silly things like replacing light bulbs
Don’t ask for sellers to install laminate in the living room to replace the carpet you don’t like.
Small little cosmetic things like this will be your responsibility. You can ask for them if you really want to nitpick, but don’t be that person.
Be mindful that you’re not buying a brand new home where you get to design every aspect of it.
What Types of Inspections Can You Have?
A general home inspector will come in and look for all signs of damage throughout the home. However, a general inspector will sometimes have to recommend you to a specialist if they find something beyond their scope of expertise.
A few of the other specialist inspectors are as follows. The description is in the name so I won't go into much detail here.
Wood destroying organisms (Termites)
If a general inspector finds an issue in one of the above areas, they may recommend you follow up with a specialist to really nail down the problems and suggested repairs.
It's similar to how your doctor may refer you to a specialist if they find something too far out of their professional ability to treat or diagnose.
If a general inspector recommends you to follow up with a specialist, you probably should!
No Home is Perfect
99.9% of the time an inspection report is going to reveal some issues. I’d say 100%, but if I do, that’ll be the day the perfect home is built.
Your job as a buyer is to critically review the report and determine if there's anything meaningful you want to work on with the seller to address before closing, or if you're happy with the home in its current condition and want to move forward. You also can choose to entirely back out as we mentioned above.
Be sure to ask plenty of questions about the report if you have any. If you paid the inspector, you're their client and can ask as much as you want. They will answer your questions to the best of their abilities.
Also, make sure you work closely with your real estate agent. They have your best interests at heart (They should at least, and if you feel they don’t, find a new agent right away) and will be able to guide you through the process.
The Seller Says The Home is Sold "As-Is"
As the buyer, you are allowed to ask for whatever repairs you want to be made before closing by the seller.
However, if the seller states the home is being sold "as-is," there is next to no chance the seller will make any repairs to the property.
You should still get an inspection though. This way, you at least know what issues need to be addressed after you move in.
Pro Tip: If a seller refuses to make any repairs for you, you can always try asking for a seller concession, or credit in lieu of repairs.
What If You’re A Seller Worried About Your Buyers Backing Out?
If you’re worried about buyers backing out after an inspection, your fears may not be unfounded. Luckily, if you need to sell a home quickly and don’t want to worry about the buyers backing out, Contenza Properties may be your ideal buyer.
Yes, we too will order an inspection, but we specialize in renovating homes that have seen better days. We'll more than likely buy the house regardless of the inspection results so long as they aren't catastrophic.
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As you can see, it’s critically important you order a professional home inspection before deciding to close. You may have to pay for it upfront, but it will allow you to make an educated decision.
Do you believe ordering a home inspection is essential? Let us know in the comments below.
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About the Author
Jordan Reid founded Contenza Properties in April of 2018 to help homeowners solve their real estate problems quickly.
Since then, Jordan has helped multiple homeowners facing difficult situations such as divorce, property liens, and unwanted property inheritance.
Jordan believes in putting people first, and numbers second, which helps him reach the best possible solutions for the homeowners he works with.