Should I Get a Home Inspection?

Last Updated on

When buying a house, buyers are given a certain amount of time to complete a home inspection. Most people complete some type of inspection when purchasing a home, but is a home inspection always necessary? I have been a Realtor since 2001 and I am also a real estate investor. In my opinion 95 percent of house buyers should always get a home inspection. There are a few cases when a home inspection is not needed and some cases when not getting a home inspection will actually give you a better chance at getting a great deal on a house. I have not asked for a home inspection for over a year on my own investments.

How does a home inspection work when buying a house?

When buying a home, most buyers are given a chance to get an inspection done on the house before they buy the home. In most states, it is typical for the inspection to occur right after the home goes under contract. Buyers are given a specific amount of time to either inspect the house themselves, have a friend inspect it, a contractor or a professional home inspector check out the home.

Buyers should be allowed to check out everything in a home including the major systems, utilities, and minor cosmetic issues. In some cases like with HUD homes or some REO sellers, the utilities cannot all be turned on. If the pipes on a HUD home do not hold pressure when HUD inspects a house, the buyer will not be allowed to turn on the water for inspections or appraisals (will discuss HUD rules later in the article). In some cases, houses that are in really bad shape may not have the electric or gas turned on if it is not safe to do so. The buyers are usually responsible for ordering and paying for the home inspection and it gives them a chance to ensure the house is in satisfactory condition before they buy the home.

I also made a video on this subject below:

How much does a home inspection cost?

The cost for a home inspection can vary greatly. Smaller houses are cheaper to inspect and larger houses are more expensive. Costs vary depending on the region of the country you are in and living costs. Different inspectors have different rates as well.

For a rental property, I would buy that is about 2,000 square feet total I can get an inspection done for about $300. On my personal house which is close to 6,000 square feet, the inspection was $600 and the inspector did not even get a chance to look at everything in the home (after 5 hours). I am able to get slightly lower rates because I am a Realtor and there is a chance I might send business to inspectors. As a regular buyer expect to pay a little more than I do.

Besides using an inspector you can also use a contractor to look at home for you. I would be cautious when using contractors because they might tend to underestimate the seriousness of some repairs. If they convince you not to buy a home and they know you will use them to fix it up, they just cost themselves a job. I had a local roofing contractor look at a flip for me last year where there were major structural problems in the roof. He said it looked like an easy fix and not to worry about it. After he got started on the job, the easy fix turned into almost a complete rebuild of the roof!

What happens to the earnest money if a contract is canceled due to a home inspection?

When you write a contract to buy a home or your real estate agent writes a contract for you, you usually include earnest money. A typical amount for earnest money is one percent of the purchase price, but it can vary depending on your location and the seller. The earnest money is a good faith deposit showing the buyer is serious about buying the home. However, that does not mean the earnest money is nonrefundable if the buyer backs out.

Most contracts are written so that the buyer can cancel the contract and get their earnest money back if certain things happen. If it a buyer has an inspection contingency written into the contract, they have a certain amount of time to complete an inspection. If the buyers cancel their contract because of the inspection and they notify the seller before their inspection contingency expires, they will receive their earnest money back most of the time (HUD is an exception I will go into more detail later).

If a buyer is not able to get a loan, there is a title problem or another contingency allows the buyers to cancel (title, appraisal, survey, etc.), they can cancel the contract and get their earnest money back as well. You just have to make sure the seller is notified before the dates on the contract expire for those contingencies. It is actually pretty rare that a buyer will lose their earnest money unless their agent misses a date or the buyers decide to cancel the contract very late in the process after their contingencies have passed.

Does a contract automatically get canceled after a failed home inspection?

If you find major problems after a home inspection you do not automatically lose the house. There are many options for the seller and buyer to save the deal. The outcome will depend on how serious the problems are with the house and how motivated the sellers and buyers are. The buyer can ask the seller to renegotiate the contract terms or to cancel the contract. Here are a few ways home inspection issues can be resolved.

  • Buyer agrees to purchase the home as-is. In some case,s the buyer will decide to proceed with the purchase of a home, even if there are major problems. In some case,s the buyer will have no choice because the seller will not make repairs or change the contract (HUD).
  • Seller agrees to make repairs to a home. Many times a seller will agree to make repairs to a house after an inspection is done. The seller may agree to make all the repairs the buyer asks for or negotiate to make some of the repairs.
  • Seller agrees to lower the price or renegotiate other terms. The buyer may ask the seller to lower the price, or the seller may offer to lower the price after the buyer requests repairs to be made. The seller can also agree to lower the price and make some repairs.

The buyers can ask the seller to repair whatever they want or lower the price to whatever they want, but the seller does not have to agree to anything. If the seller and buyer cannot come to an agreement on what to fix or how much to renegotiate, then the contract will fail.

Why would a buyer not want a home inspection?

In most circumstances, it makes sense to get an inspection done. Most home buyers do not have the expertise to know what problems they may encounter when buying a house. A professional contractor or inspector can discover what problems a house has and how serious they are. A home inspection also gives a buyer the chance to ask for repairs or renegotiate the contract. I recommend almost all buyers get a home inspection done.

Having said that, I have not gotten an inspection or asked for an inspection contingency in a contract on the last ten houses I have bought. When you waive your inspection contingency it makes your offer much more attractive to the seller and gives you a better chance to get your offer accepted. This is a great tactic to use in a very competitive market when there are few deals to be had. It is also a great tactic to use in a multiple offer situation.

Do not waive a home inspection if you are not very experienced in buying homes, knowing what repairs are possible to come up and how much they will cost!

Why do I feel comfortable buying houses without an inspection?

I have been a Realtor since 2001, I have 13 rental properties and have flipped over 100 houses. I have a lot of experience with repairs on properties and what to look for. I even repaired a flip myself back a few years ago, which did not go as planned, but sure taught me a lot! There are many things that can cause a lot of problems on houses and you have to know what to look out for.

  • Foundations
  • Roofs
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • HVAC (heating and cooling)
  • Mold
  • asbestos
  • Siding
  • Wood rot

These are just some of the things you must be aware of and know what to look for if there is a serious problem. These issues do not include cosmetic items or things you can see are wrong like:

  • Kitchens
  • Baths
  • Fixtures
  • Paint
  • Carpet
  • Doors
  • Windows

Not only do you have to be able to see when there is a problem, but you also have to know how much it will cost to repair these items if there is a problem. When I buy flips or rental properties I am buying them at a huge discount. When I make my cost estimates for repairs on a home, I always budget in extra money for things I may miss or discover during the rehab. I never assume a house only needs the work I can see, which is another reason I feel comfortable buying houses without an inspection.

Why are HUD inspections different from traditional sale inspections?

HUD homes and some REO sales have many different guidelines than traditional sales. HUD homes are government-owned foreclosures and you can find much more information on them here. For owner occupants, HUD allows the buyer a 15 day inspection period. The buyer must pay for the utilities to be turned on for the inspection and in some cases, HUD will not allow the water to be turned on. HUD has all of their homes pre-inspected and they do a pressure test on the plumbing system. If the plumbing system does not hold water, HUD will not allow the water to be turned on for the inspection or appraisal.

The inspection HUD does before they list a home provides some information to a buyer, but many times the utilities are not on when that inspection is done. I would never rely on the HUD inspection only; I would get my own inspection on HUD homes as well (if I were a normal buyer). HUD publishes the findings of that inspection (it is called the PCR) on hudhomestore.com under addendums. This is important to know because if HUD lists something that needs to be repaired on the PCR the buyer cannot use that as a reason to get their earnest money back. If the buyer of a HUD home finds an inspection problem and they want to cancel it has to be a new problem that HUD did not find.

HUD will also not make any repairs or lower the price based on the inspection and investors are treated differently than owner occupants. An investor will not get their earnest money back due to inspection problems period on a HUD home.

Is it safe to waive an inspection if a home is pre-inspected?

HUD homes have an inspection done before they are listed. I have already talked about why you should not trust a HUD inspection and you should have your own done. Some traditional listings will advertise they are pre-inspected. I think it is a good sign that a home is pre-inspected, but again it is best to get your own inspection done. Inspections are relatively cheap compared to the cost of the problems they might find. Even if a house is pre-inspected I would have your own inspection done to confirm nothing was missed.

Is it wise to use an inspection contingency as a negotiating tool?

If you find major problems with a house that you did not know about, it makes sense to ask for repairs to be done or the price to be reduced. Some buyers will make an offer with the intention of asking for a price reduction from the inspection results, no matter how the inspection turns out. I never do this and I find it to be dishonest and unethical. For investors who buy many houses, it can also hurt your chances to get a great deal.

I have seen a few deals fall apart because buyers tried to use this tactic and it made the sellers and real estate agents very unhappy. When investors buy a lot of homes they will make offers to the same agents over and over again. I am a HUD and REO listing broker and list many houses. If I see a buyer who always asks for ridiculous inspections items or price reductions I will let my seller know before they accept their offer. If a buyer or real estate agent gets a reputation for renegotiating every offer on inspections, it will make it harder for them to get offers accepted.

One reason I am able to get so many deals from the MLS, is other agents know I do not play games, I do not renegotiate and if I say I will close, I will close.

How to find a great home inspector

When you use a real estate agent they should have suggestions for inspectors in your area. There are also inspectors you can find online, but I would use the recommendation of a professional in the business. There are many home inspectors and in some states, they need no training or licenses to be a home inspector.

I would interview any inspector before you use them and make sure you are comfortable with their knowledge and services. Some inspectors will nitpick a house over minor issues and some inspectors will not be very thorough and could miss major issues.

I would interview any inspector before you use them, and make sure you are comfortable with their knowledge and services. Some inspectors will nitpick a house over minor issues and some inspectors will not be very thorough and could miss major issues. A good real estate agent can help you choose the right inspector, as well as help you go over the report.

Conclusion

Home inspections are very important for most buyers who are not buying a lot of houses. Even if you buy a lot of homes, you have to be very comfortable judging repair costs and what will need to be repaired if you are thinking of waiving your inspection. If you do waive your inspection, you can get out of a contract but may lose your earnest money in the process. My advice to most is to always get an inspection done.

Categories Buying

28 thoughts on “Should I Get a Home Inspection?”

  1. Thank you Mark for this article. It is very informative just like many others that i’ve read by you.

    I want to make sure that I understand this section of the article clearly,”Is it wise to use an inspection contingency as a negotiating tool?” So are you saying that a buyer shoud not make an offer assuming that the house will pass or fail an inspection? however, it is okay for a buyer to ask for repairs or reduction in price after the house receives a low inspection rate?

    Thanks Mark

    Sandrine- Real Estate agent from NY

    • Hi Sandrine,
      My personal opinion is that a buyer should not offer more than they want to pay assuming they will ask for a reduction no matter what the inspection says. If you know there are problems already, offer accordingly.

  2. Hello Mark, how do you deal with asbestos problems? Do you run when the inspection reveals presence of asbestos and if not, what do you do?
    We own a house from 1902 and some newly built ones, but due to local lack of inventory we are considering houses from the asbestos era. A good house inspection by a professional inspector should find all possible asbestos in a house, shouldn’t it? Thanks!

    • Hi Jenna, In most cases asbestos is not an issue if it is not disturbed.If you remove it you need to check state laws to see what the requirements are.

  3. Personally I agree that in just about every situation it is a good idea to get a home inspection. My sister is buying a home for the first time, but she doesn’t think that she really needs to get an inspection. Now I am a bit concerned that she will buy a home and that there will be something wrong with the home. You bring up a good point that many people think they will find things wrong, even though many times it requires a professional to know. I will tell my sister this and see if it changes her mind. Thanks for the post, you had a lot of excellent information!

    • Thank you Julie! You have to be very experiences to not get an inspection.

  4. While inspections are not mandatory for buying a home, I do think that they are a very good idea. Since the inspectors help to look at everything in the home to be sure it is working properly, it is probably a good idea to do this before buying a home. Then you can be aware of any possible problems that the house may have, and then think about if you want to do repairs on it. Thank you so much for sharing more about how these inspections go!

    • I agree Julie for 95% of buyers.

  5. You make a good point about seemingly negligible cracks in the wall being potential safety hazards. Experienced home inspectors know how to tell the difference in these situations by knowing which beams are important for the structure and load bearing. That is why it is so important to hire a home inspector especially before you purchase a home so you know what liability you are taking on.

  6. Thanks for sharing. I like that you point out the sometimes an inspection is needed and sometimes it isn’t. I think that as a first time buyer I would have a home inspection. Just like I have a mechanic check the car I want to buy I want my house checked out as well.

  7. Thanks for posting this! I think you should always get a home inspector especially when buying houses. They will help a lot and give you suggestions, the service will be worth the pay 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for the advice. Inspections are a must. We had a very good inspector that created a very detailed report and then we found that the sellers were not willing to fix any of the issues or give a credit. We did buy the house anyway due to its unique location but we ended spending a lot more on renovations and fixes than we ever estimated. A good home inspector is invaluable! definitely get references & check credentials, most are pretty good but you want to avoid the “gloss over” ones.

  9. Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and all. Nevertheless imagine if
    you added some great images or video clips
    to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent
    but with images and videos, this blog could undeniably be one of the very best in its field.
    Amazing blog!

    • I have many videos in my most popular articles.

  10. Sometimes, people get so excited about having their new place and new life that
    may be coming with it that they just smile and nod and sign on the dotted line.
    A wide range of condos are available in Mc – Call, right from 2 bedroom condos to 4 bedroom condos.
    Whether the property is taken care of by the owner or a property manager, open a conversation about
    how maintenance is handled.

  11. Do you have any video of that? I’d like to find out
    more details.

    • Not yet

  12. Wow! I swear never in my life I’ve read such an amazing article related to this industry. By the way, people still doesn’t care much about home inspection and this is because a lot of Home Inspectors don’t do their job properly. One should always look for the home inspector review and complaints before hiring them.

  13. I have an odd question – My husband and I just had a home inspecion and a well and septic inspection today on a home that we are in the process of purchasing. The inspecion went well – no surprises and the water kits are being sent into the lab as we are testing for lead and arsenic – we are rural –
    ADditionally, we are going with an FHA loan and the appraisal/FHA inspection has not yet taken place.

    We received a contingency removal addendum from our realtor. The verbiage: Buyers acknowledge that all inspection contingencies related to the above referenced purchase agreement have been satisfied and that any inspection contingencies are hereby waived and removed as of todays date.

    We haven’t even received the test results for the water
    OR the official inspection report. Also – this verbiage is vague, and in our minds, could be used to force us to waive any inspection results by FHA. In other words, making us responsible for any FHA fixes outside of our agreed upon amount. (seller agreed to 1K in FHA fixes)

    Should we sign this?

    • I would not

  14. Thanks for this post. Quick question, I am buying my 2nd investment turnkey and asked for inspection contingency. They agreed to it, however they just had an inspection done by a licensed inspector on 3/17/17 and provided me that report.

    Do you think an other inspection 2 months later is warranted? If I don’t, I guess I am basically gambling nothing happened in the last 2 months? Did I just answer my own question?

    • I would want to get my own inspection still

  15. Great article.

    • Thank you

  16. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on finals. Regards

    • You are welcome

  17. If i’m buying a 2 year old mobile home do I still need an inspection?

    • Yes, I would for sure get one. Do you get the land as well?

Leave a Comment

Youtube
Facebook
Linkedin
Twitter
shares
[ Inside Real Estate Investing ]
[ Inside Real Estate Investing ]