A home inspection is a common, essential piece of the homebuying puzzle. Conducted by a professional inspector, the detailed report is a comprehensive assessment of a home, inside and out.
Unlike home appraisals, inspections aren’t required, but they’re a good thing to have before securing your investment. Home inspection reports let you know if there’s anything seriously wrong with the home—details that may change your mind about buying it.
If the inspector finds something significantly wrong with the home and you have an inspection contingency in your sales contract, you can back out of the sale. If you don’t have an inspection contingency, but you want to continue with the purchase, you could use the report to negotiate with the seller. The seller may offer to make the repairs or give you a closing credit to handle them yourself.
Inspection vs. Appraisal
You might wonder why you’d pay for a home inspection when you know the lender will require an appraisal. Well, they’re two different things.
An appraisal determines the home’s fair market value. This is what lenders use to determine your loan amount. While the appraiser might notice major things wrong with the home like a hole in the roof, broken stairs, or a damaged wall, they don’t look at how the HVAC system works, whether there are any plumbing leaks, or if there’s asbestos or mold.
The inspector goes into much greater detail about the home’s condition and what you should expect in the property.
What to Expect
- The inspector comes to the property: The inspector schedules an appointment with the seller to have access to all parts of the property, inside and out. Depending on the size of the house, the inspector will be there for a few hours to conduct a thorough review.
- You can attend the inspection: Sometimes, it’s easier to understand what’s wrong with a home when you see it firsthand with a professional. It also gives you the chance to ask questions and/or point out areas of concern.
- Inspectors look everywhere: This isn’t an understatement. A good inspector will walk through an attic and investigate a basement and/or crawl spaces. He/she will turn on appliances, try outlets, turn on the A/C and furnace, and run the faucets. He/she will inspect all plumbing and electrical systems, look for mold, pest damage, and any other serious issues including cracks in the foundation.
- The inspector writes a report: Even if you went to the inspection, it’s important to carefully read through the report. You’ll learn how much life some things have, like the roof, HVAC and electrical systems, and more. You’ll get insight into how the home works, what condition it’s in, and what issues you may have in the future.
- You can share the inspection report: You can share the report with anyone involved in the transaction. We suggest sharing it with your real estate agent and attorney. They’re experienced professionals that can guide you through next steps. If there are serious issues, the real estate agent may suggest you renegotiate with the seller to get him/her to fix the issues or your attorney may advise you not to buy the home. The decisions are ultimately yours, but getting professional support is important.
Finding a Home Inspector
It’s important to find an inspector with extensive experience and a reputation for being meticulous and reliable. Ask your loan officer or real estate agent and friends and family for recommendations. Take the time to check the inspector’s credentials and online reviews. This report may guide your investment decision, so you want to work with someone you can trust.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of a home inspection varies by location and size of the house. On average, expect to pay between $200-$500.
The home inspection is a crucial part of the homebuying process. Since a home is likely one of the largest investments you’ll make in your lifetime, it’s worth spending a little more money for peace of mind and to ensure you make a smart purchase.