You may be tempted to skip the $400 to $500 fee for a home inspection… I would strongly urge you not to, along with the vast majority of lawyers, realtors and mortgage companies. Many lending institutions require home inspections to protect their own interests. State laws mandate purchase offers to include an option for the sale to be contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection. Following are 10 compelling reasons to get a home inspection.
10 Reasons To Get A Home Inspection
1. The Home Inspector is Looking Out for Your Best Interest
In the whole house buying process the only professional truly looking out for your best interest is an independent home inspector. You do not want an inspector pushed on you by your realtor, such inspectors work more for realtor referrals than home buyers. The realtors are primarily looking out for themselves, because their commissions are on the line. They want the deal to go through smoothly so they can get paid. The bank’s inspector is looking out for the best interest of the bank. You hire the home inspector for the express purpose of giving you an unbiased report of the condition of the house, he gets paid whether you buy the house or not, and an honest inspector is beholden to no realtor.
2. Take Advantage of the Contingency Clause
The main purpose of a home inspection is to reveal critical information about the condition of a home and its systems. This makes the buyer aware of safety issues and costs of repairs and maintenance the home may require immediately, and overtime. Purchase agreements contain a contingency clause allowing the buyer to opt out based on unsatisfactory results from a home inspection. If a buyer isn’t comfortable with the findings of the home inspection, it usually presents the only opportunity to back out of the offer without having to forfeit your deposit or more. A good home inspection could save you thousands of dollars and potential legal hassles. Many a disgruntled seller has sued the buyer trying to force them to follow through with the purchase agreement.
A home inspection can report on electrical, structural construction and other safety issues you may not be aware of. As of late mold seems to be a big deal with the banks and if during the bank inspection significant signs of mold are found (usually in a basement or attic), they require the mold to be remediated, which can cost upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 or more. Best to hire a home inspector who is certified in mold testing if needed. Make sure that your home-buying contract states that if such environmental hazards are detected, you have the option to cancel the offer to buy.
Home inspections are even more critical if you are buying an “as-is” foreclosed property or short sale. Dwellings that have been boarded often develop hazardous mold problems, which are costly to remedy and pose health concerns. If a home is not properly winterized there could be broken pipes or radiators that are difficult to detect by an untrained eye when the water is turned off. Due to high prices paid for scrap metal in today’s economy, it’s common for home inspectors to find that copper plumbing and other metal has been removed by thieves selling the metal for scrap to recyclers for tens of dollars but causing thousands of dollars in damage.
5. Negotiating Tool
A realtor will tell you the home inspection report presents an opportunity to ask for repairs and/or request a price reduction or credit from the seller. This is for significant conditions reported that you were unaware of prior to the inspection, which can represent hundreds or thousands of dollars. If a radon test (a separate contingency from the home inspection) finds the radon level at 4.0pCi/L or higher most sellers will pay to have a radon mitigation system installed or offer a credit for the work which averages about $1200. Based on the findings of the home inspection report, if needed, your realtor will work with you to re-negotiate in your favor.
6. Deferred Cost Estimates
A good home inspector can approximate the installation age of major systems and estimate the remaining service life of the buildings components such as decks, roofs, furnace, water heater, air conditioning and more. This is helpful information in budgeting for future replacement of major components.
7. Fix-It-Up or Not
A lot of homes are listed as fix-er-upers. Experienced home inspectors with construction background will be most qualified to help buyers identify how much work or additional money it will take to get the home into the condition they want or need. If you find it is actually more than you were aware of, this can be your out. Perhaps it is best to keep looking for a more affordable house or one that needs less work.
For example, I have over 30 years in the construction trades and was a general contractor for 16 years and can give you an estimate of cost or labor on just about any job a house might need. One thing is for sure, it always costs more and takes longer to do than most people realize, especially if your just learning.
8. Valuable Information on Protecting Your Investment
The good home inspector is a valuable educational resource. They can suggest specific steps and tips on how to maintain the home, which could ultimately save you thousands of dollars in the long term. Our home inspections and reports are very detailed and filled with maintenance recommendations, links to articles and how to information specific to your home.
9. An Honest and Impartial Evaluation
People will often fall in love with a house based on the style, color, layout, location or something else; and are often completely blind to the issues that can make that dream home a nightmare. I explain to home buyers the important issues, things that are often overlooked during the initial decision to buy.
10. Avoid Insurance and Mortgage Denials
Some insurance companies will not insure a home if certain conditions are found. For example it has been my experience in central New York that many insurance companies will not insure a home with 4 or more layers of roofing material and some will not insure a home with 3 or more layers (I’ve inspected homes with up to 8 layers of roofing). Some insurance companies will not insure a home if there is live knob and tube wiring present anywhere on the property and many insurance companies will not insure it if there is knob and tube wiring in the attic that is covered with insulation (fire hazard).
Likewise with mortgage companies, some will not carry the loan if they determine high cost repairs are needed such as a new roof. Likewise if soon or hazardous probability situations such as visual observation of significant mold or if high level of radon gas, mold or asbestos have been tested in the home.” Qualified home inspectors will let you know what ancillary testing might be warranted and conduct them at same time as their other services and save the home buyer time and money in the long run.”
A Final Word
Have you heard the phrase “Buyer Beware”? It’s in the buyer’s best interest to understand as much as you can about the property you purchasing. A quality home inspection can reveal major and marginal defects, safety hazards and other important information, allowing you to be better informed of the overall condition of the home. You don’t want to discover major concerns yourself after moving into your new home. That’s the job of a home inspector. Major Concerns – A system or component that is considered significantly deficient or is unsafe.
Thomas Francis is a New York Licensed Home Inspector and president of “A Best Home Inspection” Serving the Syracuse, Ithaca, Auburn, Rome areas and all of Central New York.