Buying Your Home - Home Inspections & Warranties
Do I need a home inspection?
Yes. Buying a home "as is" is a risky
proposition. Major repairs on homes can amount to thousands of dollars.
Plumbing, electrical and roof problems represent significant and complex systems
that are expensive to fix.
When you're trying to make your offer as attractive as possible, skipping the inspection may seem like a good idea. Here's why it's not.
If you’re buying a home in a competitive market and your offers keep getting beat out, you may be tempted to resort to desperate measures. In addition to offering more than the asking price or a quick closing, some buyers agree to waive inspections.
This is never a good idea. The home may look OK to the naked eye, but it’s what’s beyond the surface, or items that you can’t identify as problematic, that cause the biggest issues.
For example, the typical buyer won’t be able to spot asbestos, nor will they see evidence of termite infestation or a leak inside the HVAC system.
No matter how badly you want the property or how emotionally attached you are to it, you don’t want to buy a home without having it thouroughly inspected. Just imagine six months down the road, when you’ve closed on the sale and moved into your new home. You will kick yourself when you go to turn the heat on and realize it doesn’t work — and the fix is $20,000.
When you’re in the thick of a bidding war or in your seventh month of searching for homes, you might not be able to see or think clearly. Don’t get caught up in the hoopla. Waiving an inspection can cost you a fortune. Here are some alternative solutions to satisfy your need to inspect, while remaining competitive.
If you love the home, inspect before you make an offer or sign a contract. Worst case scenario, you spend a few hundred dollars delving deeply into a home you don’t purchase. Better to be safe than sorry.
If you do inspect the home and it passes muster, then you can waive your inspection contingency because you’ve inspected already.
The seller’s inspection
Often, the seller will have the property inspected before listing. They do this so that they can either iron out any issues in advance of listing, or so buyers know upfront exactly what they’re getting. It protects the sellers from future negotiations, and allows them to price the property correctly from the start.
The only issue is that the inspector is liable only to the person who paid for and ordered the inspection. That is the seller. If that inspector missed something, you don’t have any recourse.
Often there is a small window of time between when offers are due, and a deal starts to go forward. Sellers don’t want to lose momentum, particularly when there are multiple offers.
If the market moves fast and you need to get your offer in so quickly that there isn’t time to inspect, pre-schedule an inspection for a day or two out. If you work with a good local agent, they will have relationships with an inspector who will do that.
Writing a one- or two-day inspection contingency into your offer gives the seller comfort that they won’t lose momentum if you walk away. You get peace of mind in the meantime.
Don’t get caught up in the drama of a bidding war. If you’re getting frustrated, keep in mind the larger picture. You’re purchasing the biggest asset of your life. Markets change, and you don’t want to find yourself in a home you can’t afford or, much worse, can’t sell because of structural or engineering issues you missed by waiving inspections.
How do I
find a home inspector?
Your agent is a really good source. In order to find a home inspector, Dian Hymer,
author of "Buying and Selling a Home A Complete Guide," Chronicle Books, San
Francisco; 1994, advises looking for someone with demonstrable qualifications.
"Ideally, the general inspector you select should be either an engineer, an
architect, or a contractor. When possible, hire an inspector who belongs to one
of the home inspection trade organizations."
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has developed formal
inspection guidelines and a professional code of ethics for its members.
Membership to ASHI is not automatic; proven field experience and technical
knowledge of structures and their various systems and appliances are a
prerequisite. One can usually find an inspector by looking in the phone book or
by inquiring at a real estate office or sometimes at an area Realtor
association. Rates for the service vary greatly. Many inspectors charge about
$400, but costs go up with the scope of the inspection.
What's a home inspection?
A home inspection is when a paid
professional inspector -- often a contractor or an engineer -- inspects the
home, searching for defects or other problems that might plague the owner later
on. They usually represent the buyer and or paid by the buyer. The inspection
usually takes place after a purchase contract between buyer and seller has been