Homebuyers will frequently ask “should I get a home inspection before buying?” The answer is certainly very specific to the circumstances. In most cases, I would certainly recommend that a home inspection is done.
Why Should I get a Home Inspection Before Buying?
Buying a home for many is not something that is done very often. You take the time to get properly financed for your home purchase, search for homes then finally put in an offer. Ont op of it all, most likely your home purchase will be the biggest investment you ever made.
Now it is time to make sure you understand the condition of the home.
A home inspection will provide you with a fairly extensive overview of the condition of the home. As the home sits now, as well as near-term maintenance that may need to be performed. All the major systems should be covered by a home inspection such as plumbing, electrical, roof and heating, as well as structural integrity and safety of the home.
You will be given a detailed report to review, usually broken down into categories.
Obviously, if there are immediate structural, system or safety concerns you may want to ask the seller to repair the problem. For example, a common issue that you may run into is mold on the roof sheathing and rafters. That is a major safety issue that should be addressed immediately.
On the other hand, you may find the furnace is at the end of its useful life at 20 years old. Yet it still runs perfectly. You may not feel like you should ask the seller for a new furnace but it alerts you to the fact you could be replacing a furnace in the next 5 years and you should probably budget for a new one.
Home Inspection Clause in a Contract
The first step is before ever signing a contract make sure you understand the home inspection terms you are agreeing to. A standard contract to purchase here in Massachusetts will usually be along the lines of the following:
Inspections- The BUYER’S obligations under this agreement are subject to the right to obtain inspection(s) of the Premises or any aspect thereof, including, but not limited to, home, pest, radon, lead paint, septic/sewer, water quality, and water drainage by consultant(s) regularly in the business of conducting said inspections, of BUYER’S own choosing, and at BUYER’S sole cost within 7 days after SELLER’S acceptance of this agreement. If the results are not satisfactory to BUYER, in BUYER’S sole discretion, BUYER shall have the right to give written notice received by the SELLER or SELLER’S agent by 5:00 p.m. on the calendar day after the date set forth above, terminating this agreement. Upon receipt of such notice this agreement shall be void and all monies deposited by the BUYER shall be returned. Failure to provide timely notice of termination shall constitute a waiver. In the event that the BUYER does not exercise the right to have such inspection(s) or to so terminate, the SELLER and the listing broker are each released from claims relating to the condition of the Premises that the BUYER or the BUYER’S consultants could reasonably have discovered.
Basically this home inspection clause really gives you the right to back away for almost any reason as long as you follow the timeline spelled out.
** Please note contracts can differ make sure you understand your Inspection clause before signing a Contract to Purchase**
Should I Ever Give Up My Right To Have A Home Inspection?
The one time you may want to give up your right to a home inspection is when the market is hot and there is stiff competition among buyers. And in the 2021 real estate market, many home buyers are choosing to waive the right to a home inspection. This makes it hard to compete with buyers who want to do a home inspection.
Waiving your right to a home inspection may significantly strengthen your offer in the seller’s eyes. You have just removed a huge layer of risk for the sellers by forgoing your right to a home inspection. And, an offer with a home inspection contingency will be worth less money than one without.
Talk to your agent if you believe you would like to do this. But, be fully aware of the ramifications. You will own any problems after the sale. Giving up your right to a home inspection is not for the faint at heart but it may help get your offer accepted.
Do not ever let an agent talk you into giving up a home inspection if you are uncomfortable in doing so. Ultimately it is your decision.
While forgoing your home inspection may have negotiation advantages, I highly recommend you think carefully about giving up your right to a home inspection. A home inspection is your last line of defense in buying a home that is safe, sound and in good working order.
If you are in a market where many buyers are willing to forego their home inspection, consider some alternatives.
- A pre-offer home inspection. Many home inspectors are offering a modified home inspection which is a walk-through with the buyer to alert them of any issues. This way you can remove your home inspection contingency with confidence.
- If you feel you absolutely must have an inspection consider a fixed price addendum stating you will not have any recourse if non-cosemetic repairs are in excess of a fixed dollar amount. This may alleviate some risk for the seller. But realize it will be hard to compete with buyers completely waiving the home inspection.
YouTube Video- FOX 25 News Reports On Waiving Home Inspections
What If My Home Inspection Fails?
Home inspections are not a pass or fail. It is an overview of the condition of a home. Maybe a home inspection reveals a lot more hidden problems than you were aware of initially.
This is where your real estate agent can help. They are familiar with homes in this price range in a given community and what should be expected. This is where some common sense can prevail.
A home priced at $200,000 in a community where the median home price of $425,000 is probably going to have lots of problems. Condition certainly impacts the price of a home. Alternatively, a home built 3 years ago should also have very few minor problems at best.
A little common sense and market knowledge should prevail when reviewing your home inspection report.
What Should I Do If I Do Not Like The Results of My Home inspection?
The first thing to do is read your Contract to Purchase. What are your rights regarding the Contract to Purchase?
Most home inspection clauses will allow you to back away from the deal for almost every reason.
But do you want to back away? Remember most houses are not perfect. First, make a list of what you see as a problem. Then sit down with your buyer’s agent to decide on a course of action. There are several courses of action you can take.
- Completely withdraw from the deal– If nothing is what you expected and the home does not provide you with a reasonable standard you can withdraw from the contract.
- Renegotiate- Maybe a price reduction in the purchase price can be had to mitigate your out-of-pocket expense in the near future. This will probably require getting quotes and a little bit more research to be done. Make sure if you need more time ask for an extension on the home inspection contingency.
- Ask for the seller to do repairs- Another option is to ask the seller to do repairs of items you find insufficient. You will still pay the price negotiated but in return you want x,y,z done.
Is The Seller Obligated To do Repairs or Reduce the Price?
No, the seller is not obligated to repair or reduce the price after an unsatisfactory home inspection. It is all subject to negotiation just like anything else.
This is where it pays to be reasonable with your requests. Base your requests on what is typical for a house in this price range, the cost of the projected repair and the impact the repair might have on safety and structural integrity.
What is reasonable? That should be discussed with your real estate agent as there are too many variables to list. Again, put into perspective what price range you are in and what might be considered reasonable for that range.
Another big factor is are you in a seller’s market vs a buyers market. In a strong seller’s market, a seller can tell you to step aside they have multiple offers behind you. It may behoove you to be very reasonable in your requests. Alternatively in a strong buyers market, shoot for the moon, the seller will just be relieved to sell their home.
How Do I Find A Good Home Inspector?
As you cant tell there is a lot at stake revolving around a good home inspection. It is really your last line of defense in getting a good home, so you want a great home inspector. How do you find one?
- If you are working with a buyers agent worth their salt, they will have a list of preferred vendors. They can recommend several good inspectors to you.
- Ask friends and relatives for referrals of home inspectors. Nothing is better than a good referral from someone who has direct experience.
- Make sure they are a member of ASHI, The American Society of Home Inspectors .
- Make sure they have an Errors and Emissions Insurance policy.
- Now is not the time to save money and price shop home inspections. Pick a home inspector based on recommendations not the amount of money they charge.
Lastly, I always prefer an independent home inspector. One who’s career depends on referrals and his last job. He gets his business through word of mouth from getting referrals not a huge advertising budget.
Don’t wait for the last minute to find a home inspector. As soon as you know you are going to buy a home ask your real estate agent if they have specific recommendations for home inspectors as well as solicit friends and family. Once you put an offer in things move fast and you don’t have a lot of time to research home inspectors.
You have too much at stake to not take your home inspection seriously.
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Should I Get A Home Inspection Before Buying? was written by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. I am a buyer’s agent that has helped 100’s of buyers make the best of their home purchase. Find out how we can work together to get you the best home possible. Call 978-360-0422.
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