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You might think that a home inspection is an essential part of the home buying process, and you’d be right to do so, but some home buyers don’t bother to hire home inspectors. Unfortunately, in doing so, they often commit huge mistakes.
Unlike home appraisals, which determine the fair market value of a property, home inspections are not always strictly required by mortgage lenders. Appraisals protect buyers and lenders from overpaying for their shared investment. It uses data from comparable sales in the area and other public information to arrive at a property’s actual value.
Whether or not you will use a home loan to pay for your purchase, it is recommended you get the property inspected and assessed.
In this article, we will talk about the role of a home inspector in your home-buying decisions. We hope to answer the following questions:
- What is a home inspection?
- Who will pay for it?
- How much does a home inspection cost?
- Is this something I can do by myself?
- Finally, how do you choose a good inspector?
We will also give you some advice about home inspections by the end of the article.
Table of Contents
When you buy a product, you want to make sure it works, especially if there is no warranty. Since you’re buying a house that costs a great deal of money, you have to do your due diligence to avoid unwanted surprises down the road.
Clever real estate agents will do their best to clean up a property and present its best possible facade, so your job as a buyer is to ensure the home’s condition is as they say it is.
The Home Inspection Process
The task of a home inspector is to assess the structure and list down minor issues and major repairs that may be needed. They’ll check for possible moisture, mold, and plumbing or electrical problems. They’ll also check on the roof, doors, fixtures, windows, walls, and foundation.
The length of a home inspection can depend on the home’s square footage. A comprehensive home inspection can take more than five hours, but it is normal for an assessment to be done in two to three hours.
It is the buyer’s responsibility to choose the home inspector they will hire to conduct the assessment, and it is up to the buyer if they will accompany the inspector as they go over the whole house. However, as a serious buyer, you may prefer to be present during the home inspection process. This way, you can ask questions on the home inspector’s findings and decide whether something is a deal-breaker for you.
Home Inspection cost
Although you have already expressed interest in the property, the seller has more to lose if you back out of the purchase. Their goal would be to convince you to push through with the transaction, especially if there are no other offers on the table. That said, as much as possible, the home inspector must not have closer ties with the seller than they do with you.
If a seller pays for the home inspection, this may cast some doubt on the outcome of the inspection report. Even if they take hours and hours to do the job, it is still quite common for certified home inspectors to miss important details, especially if the home’s features naturally conceal the damage.
Who pays for home inspection: buyer or seller?
Since the lender does not oblige you to get a home inspection, this fee will not be included in the closing costs of your mortgage. So you’ll have to pay for it out of pocket, even if you don’t push through with the purchase.
As the home buyer, you have to take care of the home inspection costs yourself. The good news is, since you’re the one paying, you have the freedom to choose who will take on the task for you.
Depending on how busy the market is and how big the property is, a home inspection can cost 300 dollars or more.
Certified Home Inspectors
As we’ve mentioned, house inspections are optional. However, since this is an additional fee that you might not want to pay for, it is natural to wonder if this is a task you can do by yourself.
The short answer is: it depends.
When you pay for a professional home inspection, you benefit from the years of experience of someone who does this work daily. In addition, the problems they’ll identify for you can save thousands of dollars for you in repairs, and you might be able to avoid a potential transaction that has a huge deal-breaker.
Most buyers will probably not have this kind of background. In which case, we recommend going for a licensed inspector. However, if you think you have enough knowledge to cover all the bases, it’s up to you to avoid paying the additional costs. Do it yourself only if you know you are an expert in this specialty.
Finding a Home Inspector
We’ve mentioned that, at the very least, you should expect the home inspection cost to be $300 or higher. But it is possible to find a home inspector out there who will charge you a mere $250 or lower. This might sound tempting at the beginning, but when you really think about it, a $250 inspection report might just cost you a greater deal of money.
If you’re going to pay for a home inspection anyway, it’s better to find someone who’ll do a good job. They might charge you a little bit more, but at least you can demand a more thorough inspection. You can make sure that they check on all the appliances, light switches, and electrical systems. Price may not always translate to value, but it gives you more right to get your money’s worth.
We hope we’ve established how important a home inspection can be for home buyers. Even though it’s not part of everyone’s home buying process, you might be able to sleep better knowing that you’ve ticked this off in your to-do list.
Before you go, here are a couple more things you should try to do or keep in mind as you get nearer to closing day.
1 – The sooner, the better
Between the purchase agreement and closing day, there will only be an average of 45 to 60 days. Now, two months may seem like a long time. But if you’re buying a house without the help of a mortgage broker, it’s easy to lose track of the days due to all the paperwork you need to run.
As soon as you shake on a deal, we recommend you start your search for home inspectors. Depending on how busy the market is, there may not be enough home inspectors for you to choose from, and busy inspectors mean shorter inspections. You don’t want an inspector who can barely cram you into their schedule.
Get your money’s worth by getting a home inspection as early as possible.
2 – Get your own home inspection
Value is so intangible. Before they put their property on the market, there are indeed sellers who will get their house checked out by a licensed inspector. This is called a pre-listing inspection. However, even if the report is done in good faith, you should still pay for your own inspection services.
Seller disclosure laws protect buyers from sneaky sellers who may not want to reveal major issues that call for necessary repairs. Still, there will be information that can literally fall through the cracks, and it’s best to give your full consent to the transaction after you’ve done your due diligence.
3 – On Inspection Day
Make sure you are present. You want the home inspection done as thoroughly as possible.
Before you begin the inspection, ensure all utilities are turned on, so the inspector doesn’t miss anything.
Even though you are present, try to stay out of the inspector’s way. You can ask questions but not too much that you’re asking questions the whole time. The inspector will need as much space to do their job correctly and efficiently. You can jot down questions on a notepad for asking after he’s finished checking everything on the property.
4 – Don’t request repairs
If a home inspection finds that the house needs particular repairing, it seems logical for you to ask for the seller to have them done. Here’s the deal, if the seller accepts the responsibility of repairs, they may not be done as thoroughly. Remember, the seller is already leaving the property. There won’t be as much consequence to them once the keys have been turned over to you.
Instead of asking the seller to pay for the repairs, use this information as leverage. You might be able to get the property for cheaper. And you can use the money you saved for home improvement. You can hire contractors of your choice, and you can make sure that everything is done properly for your ease of mind.
5 – Think smart
Still don’t know whether you should pay for the home inspection?
The house’s condition may have a lot to say on how necessary it is to allot money for the home inspection cost. If you’re buying a brand new house in a generally young neighborhood, you can ask around and get feedback from those who’ve already bought their homes.
It’s also important not to get too hung up on cosmetic issues. It’s normal for home buyers to feel the pinch of stress now and then. Just don’t let it get to you. If you’re getting a newly-constructed home, cosmetic issues can be easily dealt with through repairs after you’ve moved into the new address. If you dwell unnecessarily on the small details, it may further lengthen the closing period.
On the other hand, if you’re buying someone else’s old property, there’s more urgency to get the home inspected. Not all home sellers will tell you their real reason for moving away, and most of the time, you’ll only speak to real estate agents. If you feel you need to find out more about the house, it’s best to follow your nose.