Should I Get A Home Inspection?
The question of whether to get a home inspection or not pops up regularly in conversations about real estate. Rewind the RE memory a decade ago, when the market was hot; buyers dared not ask for a home inspection. When they were in competition with 5 other offers, they had better offer more than the list price, and forego as many contingencies as they could feel comfortable with. In some markets today, the same conditions are causing buyers to ask the question again: Should I get a home inspection?
A home inspection is your right, and is almost always a good idea, even in new construction. Most real estate agents will encourage buyers to get a home inspection. Let me relay a couple of stories to illustrate why:
A. Falling Skies
The buyer’s had ratified an offer on a newly constructed townhouse, with the help of a buyer’s agent. Fortunately the buyer’s listened to the agent’s advice and had a home inspection contingency written in the offer. The afternoon of the inspection, the buyers were sitting in the living room with the inspector as he was finishing up with the last details of the report. They were jolted out of their metal folding chairs with the sound of a series of loud crashes and clangs from the garage. They all rushed into the garage to see the jacuzzi tub from the master bath sitting amongst the wet drywall rubble. With mouths gaping open, they raised their wondering gaze to the huge hole in the ceiling.
As it turned out, the plumber had neglected to attach the drainage pipe from the tub to the main in the wall. When the inspector filled the tub, then unplugged it, all that water drained into the floor and drywall. One hour later, the floor gave way. Who would have suspected it in a brand new house? There is always the possibility of Human Error.
B. Fixing the Fix of the Fix
I recently spent 2 hours with a first-time buyer and a home inspector in an historic home, one of my favorite inspection opportunities…I learn so much. The home had over $50,000 in renovations, all beautifully done. When examining the electric system, we discovered, because a series of fixes had been done by different electricians over the years, that the electrical wiring wasn’t even grounded. Keep in mind, all the electrical work was done by a licensed contractor. He had just missed the fix of a previous fix which altered what had originally been a grounding line. Who would have suspected a licensed electrician would have missed it? Again, Human Error.
The cost of a home inspection can be anywhere between $400 and $500 on the average house. It is so worth it when you find something major. If you discover something that you just can’t live with, ie. a cracked foundation, the inspection is the contingency that gets you out of having to buy the home…off the hook, and gets your deposit back. If you still want the house, the inspection is the contingency that you can use to get the seller to address it.
It’s Just Good To Know
I would also argue that it’s worth it even when you don’t find something major. It is worth the peace of mind. It is worth having a licensed professional going over your future home with a fine-toothed comb, teaching you all about the inward workings of your number one investment. Understanding the systems and physical aspects of your home is important for a homeowner. At the very least, you’ll get an idea of what will need future expenditures.
The home inspection is your safety net. If at all possible, write that contingency in to the purchase offer. At worst, you’ll give yourself an out. At best, you’ll give yourself peace of mind.
Don’t Just Take My Word For It…
- In his article Tips for Buying A New Construction Home, Cincinatti real estate agent Paul Sian gives an excellent tip to new home buyers: “Many builders will give a one year warranty on new construction homes, so it is a good idea during the 11th month after moving into your new home to have a home inspector come out and look over the home again.” If the home inspection reveals anything that needs attention, it will most likely be under the builder’s warranty.
- In this Realtor.com article, Seven Things Your Home Inspector Wishes You Knew, author Jamie Wiebe wisely points out to buyers that anything can be fixed. Some things sound scary, especially after so many news reports, but there is a solution for every problem. All can be negotiated after the home inspection report, if that’s what a buyer chooses. The only issue that might be worth stressing about is a water issue, and the only stress should be that the issue is dealt with before settling on the house..
- Bill Gassett, Metrowest Mass real estate agent, gives some sound advice that I heartily agree with: “…the purpose of the home inspection contingency is not to get a better price on a home because of minor issues found during the home inspection…this is one of the biggest things a buyer can do that real estate agents hate” (btw, sellers don’t like it much either). Depending on the type of financing and terms of the contract, major deficiencies found during the home inspection may be used as a reason for a reduction in the price or a concession from the seller towards closing costs, if the buyer decides that course of action. Be sure to check out Bill’s extensive article: How to Negotiate a Home Inspection.
- Seven Important Things to Look for When Viewing a Home is a great resource for home buyers. Kyle Hiscock, Rochester Real Estate Agent, lists the seven most costly system fixes in a home, the items that buyers need to watch out for when they are considering a home for purchase.
- And finally, here is some Real Home Inspection Advice from a Real Home Inspector. Mike Chamberlain, owner of MC2 Home Inspections LLC, explains in great detail what a home inspector is ACTUALLY required to do during a home inspection. This is according to the standards of practice from the largest home inspection organization in the world, InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). This will be an excellent resource if you’re a buyer asking the question, Should I Get A Home Inspection?
If you’re in the market, give us a call to get buyer representation and sound advice about today’s Central Maryland real estate market. Feel free to contact us for our pick of superior local home inspectors.
Chris Highland – 301-401-5119.