Last December, 19% of homebuyers waived the home inspection contingency component of their real estate sales contract. Even though most realtors don't recommend not ordering a home inspection, in a tight market, waiving the contingency may improve a buyer's chances of a seller accepting their offer.
If opting out of a pre-closing inspection sounds enticing, don't make a rash decision. Wait to decide until you read this article—particularly if you're a first-time buyer.
Take a minute to explore how not inspecting a home can impact your next home purchase. You'll also learn why inspections are critical when buying your first home.
Before we discuss the importance of home inspections, let's take a quick look at what to expect from the inspection.
Home inspectors check the condition of a property from top-to-bottom. They evaluate both the interior and exterior of the property. Here's what a typical inspection includes:
Generally, a home inspection also includes checking the condition of garbage disposals, range hoods, bathroom ventilation fans, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A home inspector should check any existing appliances included in the sale.
Having a home inspected before closing usually helps the buyer make an informed decision about the property. The buyer enjoys peace of mind because they know exactly what they're getting into. Buyers often use the inspection report as a negotiation tool to reduce the property's price.
Most buyers appreciate two primary benefits of ordering an inspection—assurance the house is safe and free from hidden defects.
A home inspection can ensure the buyer that the home is safe. The roof isn't ready to cave in, the foundation isn't cracked, and the electrical system is up-to-date. These are all items on an inspection report that, if not in good working order, can pose safety hazards.
No matter how good a house looks, you need a professional to root out hidden defects. Even if you have a relatively good eye for detecting issues, inspectors use trained eyes to find problems you may miss, including:
Who doesn't want to move into a home free from safety issues? Many buyers don't think about the non-safety problems often found during the inspection. While they may not be issues that could cause a fire or other disaster, the ones listed above (and others not listed) could result in costly repairs down the road.
Something many buyers don't realize when they decide against a home inspection is that the decision could prevent them from attaining approval for homeowners insurance. Not all insurance providers require it, but many will not underwrite a homeowners insurance policy without a home inspection.
Insurance companies use information from the inspection report to help them evaluate the risk they take when they insure a home. The level of risk is a determining factor in what the new homeowner will pay for insurance premiums.
Another factor insurance providers look at when evaluating risk is the likelihood of a homeowner filing a claim. If the inspection report indicates problems, such as a worn-out electrical or plumbing system, it could be a red flag for an insurance underwriter.
Insurance providers are often more likely to request an inspection of an older home or when they can't identify the home's replacement value without one.
Not all issues noted in the home inspector's report are cause for alarm. Buyers may end up with a laundry list of minor repairs that don't need immediate attention.
The most common problems discovered by home inspectors that cause buyers to reconsider purchasing a home include the following:
Not all issues require extensive or costly repairs. For example, replacing missing shingles or small plumbing leaks typically doesn't cause financial hardship.
If the inspector finds structural damage or soft spots on the roof, it can cost significant money to repair. Poor grading and drainage often result in water leaking into the basement or causing erosion of the home's foundation.
It's also possible that an electrical or plumbing system is beyond repair, which means replacing the entire system. Home inspections give buyer's a heads-up about potential problems, giving them a chance to back out of a contract on a home with severe deficiencies.
Generally, first-time homebuyers don't yet have enough experience to visually inspect a home before submitting an offer. Even if they're working with a reliable and experienced real estate agent, it's easy for a buyer to fall blindly in love with a house and ignore even the most glaring flaws.
First-time buyers are sometimes more vulnerable than seasoned homeowners, but it doesn't matter how many homes a person has owned—it's never wise to forgo a home inspection.
Once you buy a home, repairs can eat into your bank account. Your dream home can quickly become a money pit. A professional home inspection before closing can help keep the buyer from getting stuck with hefty repair bills.
Even the most experienced buyers may miss the presence of mold or termites. Other issues that carry potential health risks, such as radon gas, lead paint, and asbestos, require an inspection.
While most home inspectors don't include these issues in a standard inspection, buyers can usually request testing as an add-on. They can also ask their real estate agent for a referral to a business that specializes in testing.
With today's rapidly changing real estate market, preparing well for buying a home is critical. A home inspection can save buyers time and money by providing an unbiased view of the home they want to purchase. Inspections will also satisfy the requirements of some insurance providers.
Whether you're a first-time buyer or have owned several homes, scheduling a home inspection should happen right after a seller accepts your offer.
Here at Realty Biz News, we aim to provide resources for buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. If you have other questions about real estate, we'd love to help. Contact us today for more information.