So you’ve found that perfect house with the open floor plan that you wanted. It has the right amount of bedrooms and baths. The home is in the best school district, and the walls don’t even need to be painted! Now things are getting serious, so you and your Realtor put together a great offer and it’s accepted. Even though your excitement is at its highest, you can’t bypass one of the most important aspects of the home buying process – the home inspection.
We’ve all heard, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, this is especially true when it comes to a real estate purchase. While you may feel that you have a “good eye” for potential problem areas, seasoned home buyers realize that spending a few hundred dollars now could save you thousands down the road. Here are all of the reasons why I think everyone should get a home inspection before closing on their new home . . .
Inspections are relatively inexpensive
Looking at the big picture, the cost of getting a good quality inspection is pennies on the dollar compared to the ultimate health of your home. The typical cost of a home inspection will run you somewhere between $300-$500, depending on your home’s square footage, if it’s on a crawl space or not, etc.
Also, you’ll be getting a huge report covering an all-encompassing examination itemizing every detail of the workings of your home. Most licensed home inspectors today use software that produces reports which are very detailed and provides photographic evidence for any of the problem areas of the property.
Quite frankly, this is a risk versus reward scenario, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Peace of mind
Who doesn’t want a little more peace in their life, right? Buying a home can be stressful enough and not finding out what the true condition of your new purchase really is can only add to your stress. Knowing exactly the weaknesses and strengths of your home is so much better than not knowing, thus giving you more peace of mind.
You get an education on your biggest investment
Licensed and certified home inspectors can be a great educational resource, who can give you tips for maintenance and repair advice that could save you tons of money in the future.
Uncovers potential safety issues
Many times, the things that could negatively affect you and your family the most in a home are issues that you can’t readily see on the surface. A home inspection will bring to light problems such as faulty wiring, mold, radon, carbon monoxide, and structural issues. Even something as simple as leaky pipes could cause mold that would eventually put your family at risk.
Gives you a timeline for budgeting maintenance costs
Everything in and on your home has a “shelf life”. Your home inspector will be able to give you an approximate age of major components such as the HVAC, water heater, plumbing, appliance, and even your roof. None of these items live forever, so knowing how old they are will give you an idea of how much money to budget for down the road.
This is also great information to have if you’re considering buying a 1-year Home Warranty.
Reveals any structural problems
Structural issues will definitely make your dream home become a bad dream in a second. This is the single biggest expense in making the home whole again, and a home inspection would uncover any problems regarding the structure.
Every house settles some, but others settle worse due to where it was built or poor workmanship.
Provides an “out” from the deal
A home inspection is a contingency clause in your purchase agreement, assuming that you opted to have one completed. This contingency is the single biggest “ace in your hand” (as a buyer) from the time of the ratification of the contract until closing. This doesn’t happen often but, if the potential home of your dreams quickly becomes a nightmare due to the results of the home inspection, you can get out of the contract without any violation of the terms of the contract.
Yes, you heard me right!
As long as you fall within the timeline of when the inspection is to be completed and the removal addendum is given to the seller on time, you can withdraw from the transaction without any violation.
Now, a clogged toilet or a bad light switch (in my eyes) is not a good reason to use this leverage; however, if there is major structural damage or the whole house needs to be wired, for instance, you may have a good case.
This is a good place to get on my soapbox for a minute. In most cases, you have the option to ask the seller to make repairs based on the findings of the inspection. You can ask the seller to make any repairs that you want, but the purpose of the inspection is not to give you an entire list of items for the seller to replace. Focus on items that will create a safe and sound environment for your family.
Pests and Insects
If you’re getting a mortgage for your new home, a “clean” termite letter is required. I typically ask the seller to pay for this. But, we’re talking about home inspections. There is nothing wrong with having another set of eyes looking for issues, and a home inspector would definitely see if there was evidence of termites or even a pesky possum. Oftentimes, these issues go unseen, even by the seller, until it’s too late.
Inspections are a great negotiating tool
Here are your options concerning repairs after a home inspection is completed: you can take the property as-is, you can ask the seller to make repairs, or you can ask for a price reduction/credit from the seller.
You have the power in this situation, but remember that you also want the house, so try to be reasonable on determining what is a “deal breaker” and what you are willing to live with.
Reveals illegal installations and additions
A home inspection can uncover whether or not a room addition, new deck, or altered living area was built with the proper building permits. Every once in a while, we’ll find evidence of weekend warriors who are fairly good with a hammer but did not get the permit. This is bad since, in the city’s eyes, that part of the property doesn’t exist and probably doesn’t meet local building codes which affects taxes, usability, insurance, most of all — value.
Finds problems with new construction
No matter what the age of the property is, there could be costly unseen troubles lurking behind the walls. Most people think that just because the house is brand new that there couldn’t be any problem areas. Personally, I recommend that my clients obtain a home inspection even on newly constructed homes. Once construction is complete, the city usually comes in to inspect in order to issue a certificate of occupancy, so a lot of people may think that it’s a waste of money to hire a home inspector, as well.
Here’s a real life example of a client of mine who was buying a brand new home. After giving me a funny look from being told that he should get a home inspection, my client decided to have one done. Our inspector found that part of the duct work was not connected in the crawlspace. This was after the city inspection was completed and after the certificate of occupancy was delivered. Who knows how long my client would have lived there wondering why the house wasn’t cooling very well.
I hope you found this article helpful! It’s our responsibility to do our due diligence to find out all of the good, bad, and ugly of our home. Good luck and happy house hunting.
About the author: The above Real Estate information on Why You Should Get a Home Inspection Before Buying was provided by Jeff Nelson of IXL Real Estate – Eastern Shore. Jeff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 251-654-2523. Jeff has helped people move in and out of properties for nearly 12 years.
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I service Real Estate sales in Baldwin County including the cities of Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope, Foley, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach.