5 Things Buyers Should Know About Home Inspections

5 Things Buyers Should Know About Home Inspections

Home buyers tend to have a lot of questions about home inspections. Are they required? How are they different from appraisals? When does it take place? Here are answers to these and other common questions.

1. Home inspections aren’t required, but they’re worth it.

There is no law that says you have to have an inspection when buying a house. It’s an option that is generally left up to the home buyer. But while you’re not required to have a house inspected before purchasing, it’s generally a wise idea to do so. Unless you are a licensed contractor or builder, you probably don’t have the experience necessary to evaluate the structural aspects of the home. Home inspectors specialize in that very thing.

2. It’s different from a home appraisal.

Home appraisals and inspections are similar procedures, but they have two very different goals in mind.

  • A home inspector will alert you to any potential repair issues, or other problems with the structure and installed systems.

  • A home appraiser, on the other hand, is primarily focused on determining the market value of the house.

If you are planning to use a mortgage loan to finance your purchase, there’s a good chance the mortgage lender will require you to have a home appraisal. They do this to determine how much the house is worth. But the inspection is usually optional, and it focuses on the condition of the home. They are two different things.

3. It usually happens soon after the contract is signed.

As far as the timeline goes, a home inspection typically takes place shortly after the buyer and seller have agreed on the purchase price and signed a contract. At that point, the buyer will often hire an inspector to perform a complete home inspection.

The seller does not need to be present for the inspection. In most cases, the seller will actually leave the premises so the inspector can come in and do what he/she needs to do. Home buyers are almost always present during this process. The seller’s listing agent might grant the inspector access to the home. Or they might put a lockbox on the door. But as far as the timing goes, it typically takes place soon after the purchase agreement has been signed.

4. It helps you uncover any serious issues with the house.

The inspector will closely examine almost every aspect of the house. That includes the foundation, the roof, the electrical and plumbing systems, HVAC and more. He will provide you with a detailed report of any repair issues or other problems that he finds. This kind of report is invaluable to someone buying a home, especially when you consider how much money is on the line.

5. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Home inspections typically range from $250 – $400, depending on the size of the house and other factors. When you consider the amount of money you are going to put into the home – and the amount you might be borrowing from a lender – it’s a relatively small price to pay for peace of mind.

The Different Types of Home Inspections Explained

The Different Types of Home Inspections Explained

Home inspections are a common source of confusion for first-time home buyers because there are several different types of inspections that can take place. Here is an overview of the most common types of inspections you could encounter during the buying process.

Primary Home Inspection

When you hear people talk about a “home inspection,” they are generally referring to the primary inspection that is conducted by a licensed home inspector. It’s always a good idea to have a property professionally inspected before buying it.

The inspector will examine the home’s foundation, roof, electrical system, installed appliances, heating and cooling systems, and overall condition. When he’s finished, he will give you a detailed inspection report that explains his findings.

Keep in mind that when you buy a house, you are generally buying it in “as-is” condition (unless specific provisions are added to the contract saying otherwise). For this reason, you want to make sure you know what is, and is not, working in the home. You’ll also want to know what repairs might be needed, and how much they might cost. For all of these reasons, the primary home inspection is essential.

Termite Inspections

Home inspectors typically don’t look for termites or other wood-destroying insects. So this is usually a separate inspection. This inspection is done on behalf of the buyer and the mortgage company. You might even have to provide a copy of the inspection for your mortgage lender. This is especially true if you live in an area where termites are common. You might be able to skip this process if termites are not commonly found in your area. Termite damage can be extensive and expensive. So these inspections are usually worth the cost.

Well Water Inspections

Depending on where the home is located, you may also need a well water test to make sure the water is potable (safe to drink).

Home Appraisal / Appraiser’s Inspection

If you are using a mortgage loan to buy a house, your bank or lender will send a licensed home appraiser out to evaluate the property. The appraiser is primarily concerned with the market value of the home. He will also examine the overall condition of the property, as it relates to the value.

Final Walk-Through Inspection

Home buyers typically perform one last inspection near the end of the real estate transaction, just to make sure the house is in the same condition it was in when they agreed to buy it. During this final “walk-through,” as it is known, you’ll want to ensure that everything is in working order and that the house has not been damaged in any way since you first signed the contract.

As each inspection takes place, keep in mind that no home is perfect. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of every house in order to make the right purchasing decision.

You can expect a number of inspections to take place during your home buying process. Most of these inspections are for your benefit, as the home buyer, so you need to take each inspection seriously and consider the outcome carefully.