What You Should Know About Home Inspections

home inspector

Home inspections can arouse feelings of dread in both sellers and buyers. Both want the process to go smoothly so the home can transfer ownership as soon as possible, but that's not always what happens. Unfortunately, the results of a home inspection report could delay the sale of the property or even cause a deal to fall apart.

A detailed home inspection isn't designed to be a roadblock to homeownership. It's meant to ensure both parties know of the home's condition before closing. While a buyer can waive the home inspection, doing so is often not the best financial move.

What Is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is an independent third-party review of the property. The inspector typically examines the structural and mechanical aspects of the home for safety and condition. Final reports often detail the need for any urgent repairs, issues that may soon need attention, and other findings that could affect the home's value.

Most purchase offers are contingent on a cleared inspection or one where the seller and buyer still agree to move forward with the sale despite issues identified in the report.

Home Inspection Benefits

A home inspection can give you peace of mind before you make what will likely be the largest purchase of your lifetime. Certified home inspectors are often happy to educate future homeowners on the general maintenance of the home. But the reasons to say yes to a home inspection don't stop there. Here are some additional benefits worth considering as you get closer to closing:

  • The buyer typically pays for the home inspections, but the seller can agree to pay for it or include it in the closing costs.
  • A trained professional perform an inspection that can uncover issues you're likely to overlook.
  • You can plan for future repairs based on inspection results instead of being surprised by them in a few months or years.
  • Results of the inspection could present an opportunity to negotiate the home's sale price, even if the seller has already accepted your offer.
  • You can request that the seller pays for and completes repairs before you close on the home.
  • If the inspection report contains too many major or minor repairs for your liking, you can cancel the sale if the purchase offer was contingent on the home inspection.
  • Even if mechanical systems are functioning correctly today, an inspection can estimate how long existing systems are expected to last. This could help you budget for maintenance and repairs after closing.

Risks of Skipping a Home Inspection

  • You may be ineligible for homeowners insurance. Some companies will not issue a policy without an acceptable home inspection performed by a qualified inspector. Most lenders require buyers to have a home insurance policy to close on the mortgage loan.
  • You could purchase a home with unsafe radon levels or mold. Skipping a home inspection could put your health at risk. Radon gas has been linked to certain cancers and even death. Mold can trigger allergies or more intense reactions in the body, and removing it can be a nasty and expensive process if the infestation is extensive. A home inspection that includes these tests could allow you to resolve these issues before closing.
  • You could purchase a home with improper home upgrades. If the buyer performed remodeling or other work that did not follow local permitting or code requirements, you could be headed for financial trouble. If these issues are identified before closing, you can request that the seller fix them as a condition of sale.

You might be tempted to skip the home inspection in a rush to get to the closing table. However, doing so could be costly. Uncovering electrical, plumbing, or other issues post-sale could leave you with little recourse and footing the bill for expensive repairs.