Buying a home? Pay attention to property inspection

A house is the most expensive thing most of us ever will purchase. If you plan to stay put for some time, you could be paying on your mortgage for the next 15 to 20 years. But as any homeowner knows, expenses don’t stop at the purchase price and mortgage interest. You’ll also pay a small fortune in insurance, upkeep, and repairs over the years.

This is what makes it so important to fully understand the process of buying a home, especially when it comes to property inspection. With so many features and systems, there are any number of things that can break or malfunction in your house. Unlike a faulty appliance that you can take back to the store for replacement or refund, once you sign a contract on a home, there’s little recourse should something go wrong.

According to the National Association of Realtors, April through July typically outpace the balance of the year in home sales as people try to get settled before the new school year begins. If you plan to purchase a home soon, make sure you pay careful attention to the property inspection process to save both money and headaches.

The Purpose of a Property Inspection

A property inspection report is a list of issues with the property, such as roof damage or a crack in the foundation. After inspection the buyer has the opportunity to negotiate with the seller and reach an agreement to either repair the property or to lower the sales price to compensate the buyer for the cost of the repairs. Alternatively, the seller can decide to sell the home as-is, in which case he or she is declining to make repairs or lower the sales price, and the buyer must decide whether or not to buy the home at the original agreed-upon sales price.

You may have decided that the property is your dream home, but the property inspection is a much-needed reality check that will point out flaws of which you might not be aware.

Important Note

New houses still need an inspection!

You might think a new house is perfect, but that’s far from the truth. In fact, new homes can be even more dicey because they haven’t undergone a few inspections like the typical resale house.

When I was in real estate, I mentored with an incredibly knowledgeable agent who would try to talk her clients out of new homes (which often pay agents exponentially more because of builder bonuses). If they still wanted a new house, she would recommend additional inspections at various points in the construction process, and she’d show up for every single one.

During one inspection, she walked into the master bathroom. She noticed something was missing, and asked the builders to come in and see if they could figure it out. No one had a clue. Turns out they hadn’t put in plumbing for the toilet.

Review the Seller’s Disclosure Notice

The first step in the property inspection process is to review the seller’s disclosure notice, a form filled out by the property owner that outlines their knowledge of the properties present condition. If you’re working with a real estate agent, he or she can get the disclosure statement from the seller’s agent. Otherwise, you can contact the seller’s agent, or if the property is for sale by owner, you’ll get the notice from the seller directly.

Sellers are required to include everything they know about their property. If, for example, the home was previously under contract, but the potential buyer walked away because a property inspection found major structural damage, the seller is required to include that in the seller’s disclosure notice.

As the buyer it’s particularly helpful because if the house will require major structural repairs, and you’d rather pass, you can walk away from the property without having to shell out cash for your own property inspection to reveal the same issues.

Hiring an Inspector

If you carefully reviewed the sellers disclosure and you’re ready to move forward, the next step is to find an inspector.

Rather than firing up your Internet browser and doing a Google search, contact people in your network to get referrals. Who has purchased a house in the past several years? Do you know anybody in the real estate industry? If you have a buyer’s agent, he or she also should have at least three names of inspectors for you to consider.

After you’ve collected a small list of names, interview each candidate, asking questions including the following:

  • Are you licensed (not required in all states)?
  • Are you a member of a professional organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors?
  • Do you have errors and omission insurance?
  • What kind of ongoing training and education do you receive?
  • Do you specialize in certain types of properties? (For example, new homes and certain beachfront properties might need a specialist.)
  • What will the inspection cost?
  • If hired, how soon can you give me a property inspection report?

Finally, ask for a sample inspection report and see if it includes detailed descriptions of features and flaws in the home, which give more information about the property than a basic checklist.

It’s important that you make time to attend the inspection of the home. Besides learning more about your AC and where the fuse box is located, believe it or not, you might find issues that the inspector would normally miss. For example, an inspector won’t check underneath every rug in the house, but you can, and you might discover a major crack in the concrete floors.

Tip: Though the property inspection report will be invaluable after you purchase a home — it can serve as an agenda for which maintenance and repairs are highest priority — you can make it even more useful by filming the inspection. Don’t make yourself a nuisance, but tag along and film as the inspector goes from room to room. (You’ll probably want to let her crawl under the house on her own, though.)

Negotiations

Once the property report is finished, carefully read it. Many people don’t.

It can be disheartening to see so many things wrong with your “dream” home, but every home will have issues. Some are easy and inexpensive to fix, and it’s not reasonable to ask a seller to get a property in perfect condition. Typically buyers will ask that a seller take care of any health and safety concerns; structural damage; deferred maintenance, such as having the air-conditioning system serviced; or problems that require opening the wall, which often reveal much larger and more expensive problems.

Remember that should negotiations go downhill and you want to walk away from the property, the inspection contingency will allow you to do so.

If there are only minor issues with the house, however, typically buyers continue with the original contract. After the contract is finalized, it’s fairly certain the buyers are about to become the new owners.

As you can see, the process of a house inspection can have a major affect on a buyer’s finances for years to come. If you’re in the market for a new home, don’t gloss over the inspection report or assume that your agent will show up for you on inspection day and handle any issues. Stay involved in the process, even if you have to ask a million questions along the way. As J.D. often says, nobody cares more about your money than you do.

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There are 69 comments to "Buying a home? Pay attention to property inspection".

  1. No Debt MBA says 01 June 2011 at 05:18

    An inspection contingency with your offer is crucial. Any real estate agent you’re working with should include one, but it doesn’t hurt to double check. Ours saved us a lot of grief when we pulled out of negotiations on a house.

    • Jared says 02 June 2011 at 10:52

      You don’t even need a realtor for anything. You can get all of the forms and stipulations done yourself. It is important to be 100% involved in the purchase of a new home. Great article!

    • Scott Roes says 15 May 2014 at 02:46

      It is good to get inspection of house before its purchased from qualified home inspector so that shortcoming, discrepencies, other losepoles can be confirmed and it should be got right restored in mean time and correct estimate price of property can be arrived at. and buyer should not be in loss for faulty electric installation, sewerage, furniture, wooden structures etc.

  2. Everyday Tips says 01 June 2011 at 05:23

    I always see the importance of a home inspection whenever I watch one of those “Holmes vs Homes”. Quite often an episode is featured where someone bought a home that passed inspection, and then they end up with major problems afterward.

    There is no way to be 100 percent sure, but you definitely need to be involved in the process. Hiring a good home inspector is one of the most important things you can do to protect your investment.

    • J says 01 June 2011 at 05:42

      A common misconception is that a home will either “pass” or “fail” an inspection. That is simply not the case. The inspector is there to present facts. But like you said, an inspector will not get things 100% right, but who does?

    • Tom says 01 June 2011 at 06:50

      I like Mike Holmes, but to be fair, the scope of the average home inspection is not the same as what he is doing. No home inspector is opening drywall. Many don’t use the IR gun. They check that plumbing and other systems are functional.
      I’ve noticed lately in some of his shows that he has also been pointing out issues the inspector did identify and the homeowner did not address.
      In personal experience, I’ve heard of a couple inspectors who have given refunds for missing something as a courtesy to the buyer.

      • chacha1 says 01 June 2011 at 09:50

        I love Holmes on Homes! And yes, your average inspector is not opening up walls. But many times, the whole reason the wall needs to be opened can be seen from the outside, and either the inspector misses it – in many areas, these people do not have to be particularly well trained – or they point it out but the prospective buyer doesn’t know what they should do about it, or even if it’s potentially a big deal.

        There are some big obvious things that everyone thinking of buying a home should know how to recognize. Roof faults, plumbing faults, badly-designed wiring, and property drainage are the main ones. As Mike H and his crew point out, if something *looks* wrong, it probably is.

        And the biggest obvious thing a prospective buyer should know is, don’t fall in love with a house. Love is blind, and you may end up with short circuits and a flooded attic.

  3. Elizabeth says 01 June 2011 at 05:29

    I’m book marking these tips, thanks! 🙂

    One thing I’ve been warned about is to ask about the reserve fund if you’re buying a condo. A friend of mine didn’t and got hit with a big bill and a steep rise in his condo fee when property repairs at the complex couldn’t be covered by the reserve fund. I guess condo corps need healthy emergency funds too 🙂

  4. Yaryna says 01 June 2011 at 05:38

    I can’t agree with this article more! Inspections, though expensive, are essential! We just bought a house in December. Not the one we originally wanted – but a better, more solid one. Yes, we paid a few thousand more for it, but didn’t have to lift the entire house and fix its foundation, or rewire it – problems the inspection of the first house turned up! The $560 we paid to inspect the first house saved us a $200K headache and led us to purchase a better built house we are much happier with that requires MUCH less maintenance…

  5. Lou Lamoureux says 01 June 2011 at 05:44

    When we bought our first house in 1997, the market was really hot, and the realtor was very aggressive. We didn’t know any better and used inspectors recommended by the realtor (home and termite). BIG MISTAKE. The home inspector glossed over things that were important and the house had an obviously major termite infestation that the inspector swore was not termites. We ended up spending a lot of money to get rid of the termites.

    • Nancy L. says 01 June 2011 at 06:01

      We had a similar situation, though we were lucky. We put an offer in on a house, and in our case, the realtor seemed very friendly and helpful, so we used her recommendation for an inspector. The inspector went through the whole house and pronounced it in good shape, claiming that the only fixes that were necessary were cosmetic. Luckily my father-in-law asked us to let a family friend who was a contractor also take a look. The contractor quickly pointed out that there were huge (and obvious once you knew to look for them) issues with the electrical, the floors and the roof, and when asked what he would recommend, he replied “Run!” Since we had an inspection contingency, we were able to drop our offer without penalty, and we gladly did so.

      When we moved into our current house, we not only hired our own (recommended by friends) inspector, but we also brought a second contractor to take a look as well. It was useful to have two sets of educated eyes going over the house, and we were very pleased when the house passed with only a few minor issues. We’ve lived here now for 9 years, and while there are things that need updating and repair, there have been no unpleasant surprises with the main systems of the house.

    • Annemarie says 01 June 2011 at 06:15

      This happened to us too. An inspector (recommended by a Realtor friend) thought there was nothing wrong with the cracks in the plaster that a little work wouldn’t fix.

      Luckily, my husband followed his gut and hired an engineer. (From far away. He wasn’t confident in the local guy.) It turned out the whole house is actually sagging in the middle, sinking into the sand on which the place is built. The house would have to be sliced (yes, cut) alongside the two chimneys,(one of which is an interior chimney and holds up 3/4 of the house) then raised a foot, and the foundation completely replaced. I can’t imagine the damage just the raising would do to the structure of the house, even assuming it was put back okay.

      This house was built by my great-great grandfather, and it had long been our dream to own it and restore it as much as our finances would allow. We’re getting a second (and third) opinion on the repairs, but no matter how you look at it, it’s a formidable project.

      So: Don’t always believe the inspector.

    • Paul says 01 June 2011 at 07:40

      Couldn’t agree more. We learned this the hard way. Here are my lessons:

      1) Get your OWN inspector. Inspectors have relationships with realtors/companies out there, and they don’t want to get a reputation for killing deals. It is critical that your inspector is unbiased. Do you think a realtor is going to refer an inspector that killed one of his/her deals? Heck no!
      2) DO NOT allow the realtor in the house during the inspection (in our case, our realtor helped gloss over important, and expensive issues)
      3) Spend a few more bucks and schedule independent inspections of all the major systems (get a plumber, electrician, heating/ac, foundation, heating/ac guy). I hired an electrician to come out. He found several things that were misrepresented by the sellers that the inspector missed, and we got $5000 back at closing. Plus, he didn’t charge us to come out – instead, he asked for us to give him work, which we did!

    • Pamela says 01 June 2011 at 07:41

      I think it’s worth asking your agent who they recommend to inspect your house but I wouldn’t make it my only referral. And I’d always ask them, “would you hire this inspector to check out a house you were going to buy” and see how they reply.

    • Annie says 01 June 2011 at 08:57

      Happened to us too. We had a home inspection that failed to discover significant damage to two walls in the foundation/basement. Required a $6k repair on a $150k house.

  6. jackowick says 01 June 2011 at 05:56

    Inspection gives you a list of items that “need work”, to simplify it. Some will be required for certain permits or for the deal to be closed, others are negotiable. The inspector for my house found a broken basement window (single pane) and I used that in negotiations in a bundle of items since I knew how to fix it.

    *Please note inspection stories will vary from state-to-state, town-to-town for all sorts of things, but you get the idea.

    There were some dead electrical outlets, too, which I knew how to repair. I convinced the owners to leave their window AC units in exchange for these items. In the end, I had repairs I could do myself for a total of $30 in parts, and I got $150+ in air conditioners!!!

  7. Money Beagle says 01 June 2011 at 06:21

    I’ve bought two properties and in both cases the inspector has been a very valuable asset. In the first purchase, he found that a loud squeak by the front door was caused by a cracked floor joist in the basement. I had the seller repair it as a result of the inspection. In the most recent purchase, nothing major was found wrong, but the inspector was great at noting when things would most likely come due, like having to re-shingle the roof, etc. This allowed me to set up a budget for some of these items to make the pain a little easier to deal with.

    It is very important to be there with the inspector, simply because he/she will point out things that will come in handy as you take ownership of the home.

  8. Rob says 01 June 2011 at 06:26

    I would also say to get a really good real estate agent. The first time I bought a house, I just picked an agent pretty much randomly. I didn’t know the area that well, so I ended up in a house that was in a declining neighborhood. I probably lost at least $15,000 selling that house.

    The second time, my wife and I asked friends for recommendations. We got an awesome real estate agent who really did a lot of research for us – showed us which areas had the best appreciation rate and immediately told us what areas we wanted to avoid. It made all the difference in the world, and we ended up with a good house in an awesome neighborhood.

  9. Rene Mayo says 01 June 2011 at 06:38

    I had an inspector recommened by my dad and he found wet spots on the roof but it cleared up and no more wet spots. but a co-worker of mine is currently selling his house and there was an offer, so the buyers did an inspection and the guy left the water running at their house for 8 hours because of the well system… Yeah right! At the most run it for 5-10 minutes and that should tell you something. Good thing my co-worker has a well otherwise, he would have gotten a big water bill from the city.
    some inspectors are screwy and some are incompetent and others are terrific.

  10. babysteps says 01 June 2011 at 06:40

    A good home inspector is invaluable! definitely get references & check credentials, most are pretty good but you want to avoid the “gloss over” ones.

    In many areas, home inspectors do *not* do pest inspection, you will want to clarify & if so get a separate pest inspection. Also some areas of the country have different “standard” inspections, ask around to make sure you’re not skipping anything (you could be looking at separate inspections of “home”, pest, septic, and radon – I’m sure there are other inspections in some places too)

    Having a contractor look in addition to/as followup for inspection is also a great idea – in our area, some (not all) charge for this *if* you don’t yet own the home, but in some cases you can apply this fee to any work they end up doing.

    We are about to move into a smaller home in a lower-cost-of-living area, the inspection saved us $10,000 (on a purchase well under $100,000) – mostly because the sellers (an estate) couldn’t get the heat to come on in prep for the inspection – they actually counter-offered us first to drop the price to reflect the heat not working. And this on an offer based on “as-is” condition (although still contingent on inspection).

    Ideally, your inspection report will go room-by-room and highlight life/safety issues vs. deferred maintenance vs. cosmetic items that could use fixing. If it’s your first home, be prepared to see lots of items called out. Take a deep breath, get out a calculator and total up the likely costs to you – sometimes a long list is actually not very many $, other times just one item could be $$$ by itself.

  11. Megan says 01 June 2011 at 07:23

    My husband and I almost bought a house a few years ago that, had we not used the inspector, was riddled with problems. Like severe mold in the crawlspace and other areas that you might not typically see in an open house. The inspector stopped about halfway through the inspection and point-blank told DH that we shouldn’t buy this house at ALL. We ended up with a much better house around the corner after that!

  12. beth says 01 June 2011 at 07:33

    YOU MISSED SOMETHING MOST IMPORTANT: Do NOT schedule your survey before the inspection. If you decide not to buy the house based on the inspection and you’ve already paid for the survey, you’re out $300. That happend to me. My inspection revealed that the house’d had a serious fire in the attic and the roof support was at risk. I decided to retract my offer. Since my agent scheduled the surveyor before the inspection, I had already paid for that. Schedule the inspection before everything else so you don’t risk pouring money down the drain.

    • Pamela says 01 June 2011 at 07:44

      Actually, you shouldn’t put out any major money before the inspection. Good mortgage lenders won’t even take an application from you until you’ve signed off on the inspection contingency in your contract.

      Also, other home buyers reading–in many places, the seller pays for the survey, not the buyer. Ask around to find out what’s customary in your area before you panic about paying another big fee.

  13. Pamela says 01 June 2011 at 07:37

    April–Good post about the home buyer’s best friend. When you buy a house, the inspector gets paid whether you buy the house or not making him or her the only impartial professional in the deal.

    You made a great point about attending the inspection yourself. I think it’s key. But I’d add to your list of questions to ask a potential inspector the role they think you should play as a buyer. Some inspectors consider home buyers pests who get in their way while others like educating people about their potential new house.

    So find out if your inspector agrees that you should follow on the inspection before you hire him or her.

    • Michael says 01 June 2011 at 10:36

      While they are more likely to be on your side if you hire them, they still have a conflict of interest since much/most of their work comes from realtor referrals.

      I know a home inspector who consistently lost work because she had a reputation of giving buyers the full truth.

      • Pamela says 01 June 2011 at 17:16

        Relying on realtor referrals can be a big problem. That’s why those of us who know tough, competent inspectors need to spread the word.

  14. Justin says 01 June 2011 at 07:48

    Im guessing hundreds or even thousands of people get burned every day because they don’t get a house inspection before they purchase!

    Of course they’re only hurting themselves, and getting a huge mortgage to buy a lemon of a house is never fun.

  15. smirktastic says 01 June 2011 at 08:06

    Always ALWAYS hire your own inspector. It’s imperative to get an unbiased opinion and the inspector gets paid whether the house sells or not.

    Also, if you are selling, it is sometimes helpful to have a home inspection done in advance, which you make available to any prospective buyers. It does not (nor is it meant to) replace a buyer’s inspection, but it can help give the buyer added confidence in the property’s condition and keeps everything out in the open.

    • Christian says 02 June 2011 at 20:39

      Getting your own home inspection before selling can also help you figure out what you should repair for yourself or plan to include as things that you will pay for. It was much easier for me to take care of some bad downspouts in advance than have the buyers include that as work needing to be done.

      Of course anything that is found by your inspector will need to be repaired properly as the next inspector will be looking very hard at those items.

  16. Mike in MN says 01 June 2011 at 08:06

    1) Hire someone to look for meth use. The chemicals from a meth home saturate the wood & you can NOT get rid of them. They are extremely dangerous. They do cause harm to people, especially your growing children. Once you’re stuck with a Meth House, no one will buy it. Read some stories at methlabhomes.com and prepare to get horrified. (I do not work for this site…google Meth Homes – there are plenty of nightmare stories abound)

    2) Contact the local police department and ask for if, when & why the police were called to your address – you might not want to buy a house someone was murdered in (I don’t).

    3) Our inspector (as did I) missed that a dormer on our roof wasn’t vented. This last winter we had $4k in damage due to an ice dam caused by the unvented area. Follow the inspector around and ask questions!

    4) When you have it inspected, be there. Flush the toilets. Fill up the sinks & tubs – do they drain properly? Does the overflow work? Have the seller fix any slow draining sinks or clogged overflows. Same for anything else – try all light switches, run all appliances, open & close all doors & windows.

    5) How does it smell? Follow your nose if something’s not right. Pull up carpet (in a corner where you can put it down again easily) and look for water stains on the subfloor. Don’t dare? This is YOUR money we’re talking about here – don’t worry about getting the sellers miffed if/when you find issues!!

    6) Smell mold? Either there is an ongoing problem, or there was one. Either way, get used to it unless you’re planning on heavy-duty remodeling.

    7) Finally, don’t believe the sellers put everything in the disclosure!

    • Debbie M says 03 June 2011 at 12:31

      My seller put NOTHING in the disclosure, claiming that since they were renting the place out, they had no clue. My realtor-recommended inspector did a very mediocre job, handing over a one-page checklist. Fortunately, I lucked out and the house has been fine.

      I think it’s like buying a used car–do your own inspection first before hiring someone. You may be able to eliminate the place for free or to point out extra things to the inspector to ask about.

  17. Cathay says 01 June 2011 at 08:24

    I’ve bought perhaps 10 houses in my life. In two of those cases, I hired a home inspector. I paid $350 for each inspection.

    The first time, the inspector came back with a four-page report that didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

    The second time, the inspector spent four hours seemingly going over the house with a fine-tooth comb. His report was 42 pages long, with photographs, and told me about dozens of small problems I would never have noticed.

    He completely missed the fact that the house had at some time had an extensive attic fire (something a roofer spotted immediately upon entering the attic). He completely missed the fact that parts of the foundation were in ruins (something I spotted immediately upon squeezing into the crawl space).

    I was not able to be at the inspection since I was buying in another state. But I had a representative with him the whole time. Unfortunately, she trusted his professionalism and reputation and I trusted that I was in good hands.

    Don’t make my mistake. As the article says, BE THERE. Also be skeptical and alert. Don’t fear to ask questions and/or to poke your head and your flashlight into places the inspector might miss.

  18. PawPrint says 01 June 2011 at 08:26

    If your sellers are going to make any repairs per the inspection, be sure that you get a reinspection as well as documentation of the repairs. We pulled out of a deal at the last minute because the reinspection showed that the work done by the sellers was shoddy and, in some cases, not done at all, although the “handyman” and seller’s agent said the work had been completed.

    We hired an inspector from our buyer’s agent list, but weren’t totally happy. On our second offer after the first deal fell through, I went to Angie’s list so I was quite happy with using the internet because we got a great inspector at a reasonable price.

    • Mikey says 02 June 2011 at 15:11

      As a buyer, I always assume I will do the repairs myself and ask the seller to adjust the selling price. As a seller, heck yeah, I do the minimum possible repair.

      Consider the inspection a punch list. If there’s too many items, drop the sale, if you can handle it, move forward but do the work yourself.

  19. bon says 01 June 2011 at 08:31

    There are lots of home inspection checklists online that homeowners can use to check alongside their inspector.

    Someone needs to come along and supplement with a visual guide – pictures of types of water damage, typical “aging” of a roof, when something qualifies as “pass or fail,” and what to look out for in different regions / geographies.

    After having family members get burned on their inspectors it really seems like something I’m going to want to double-check on my own.

  20. krantcents says 01 June 2011 at 09:01

    Since I know very little about construction and even less about mechanical things, a home inspection is very important. In my experience, many sellers buy a home warranty to show the seller the mechanical portion of the home is covered for a year.

    • Catherine says 01 June 2011 at 14:42

      I’m surprised no one else mentioned the home warranty before now. As a seller I have bought one to protect myself in case something goes wrong that I don’t know about or can’t predict, and as a buyer I insist that I get one as part of the purchase price.

  21. Max says 01 June 2011 at 09:08

    One thing I cannot recommend highly enough, even if the house is brand new, is to get a sewer inspection. Your sewer line is unseen and can have latent problems which are like time-bombs, not to appear for a year or two after you’ve purchased the home. I learned this the hard way myself.

    An independent sewer inspector (do not use a rooter service if you can avoid it, they may “find problems” that aren’t there.) should run $300 or less, but a sewer replacement can be up to $30,000 or more.

    • Jonathan @ 185 says 01 June 2011 at 10:00

      I cannot agree more. We had a sewer inspection done and ended up having the sellers replace the sewer and water line. It saved us $6000.

      A good home inspection will both protect a buyer from making a huge mistake and also allow a buyer to see possible future issues. We didn’t ask the seller to make all the suggested repairs, mostly because we had the sewer done, but we do know what issues we need to take care of in the future.

      • Catherine says 01 June 2011 at 14:53

        I totally agree. House buying is no time to be cheap. Spend the money on a structural engineer if the house is on a slope, get the fireplace and foundation checked out and have a roofer inspect the roof. Don’t be afraid to call in specialists in addition to the general home inspector.

        I nearly cost myself $75,000 by trying to cheap out on a septic system inspection that my realtor insisted I have. I was tired of taking off work for all the various inspections he said I needed, but he was right. The septic system was completely kaput, something the sellers didn’t know because they had inherited the house, and I would have been stuck had my agent not insisted that I pay for a $150 inspection. Bottom line, I still bought the house but only after the sellers installed a brand new $75,000 septic system at their cost.

  22. LifeAndMyFinances says 01 June 2011 at 09:13

    Thanks for the tips April. My wife and I have recently put in an offer on a foreclosed home. If the offer is accepted, we certainly need to have a home inspection. I expect issues, but if there are large problems that will go uncorrected, then I’ll have to be prepared to walk…

  23. lmoot says 01 June 2011 at 09:51

    I lucked out. I used the inspector my realtor recommended. He inspected everything, crawling under the crawlspace, checked the roof, and gave me a complete rundown on everything wrong with the house, down to crooked doorjambs and a nick in the enamel of the bathtub.

    Because of his estimation of cost I was able to negotiate the house down 10k (it was being sold as-is, and ended up doing most of the repairs myself and with the help of family.

    I still use his reports as references.
    But, like I said, I lucked out.

  24. KDH says 01 June 2011 at 10:26

    A home inspection is very important, but we learned the hard way with our first house that it is much better to have the price of the house renegotiated based on the inspection instead of having the sellers fix the issues before closing.

    We were defrauded by the seller and a formerly reputable electrician over the replacement of knob and tube wiring–they replaced what was easy to get to (and see) and had the electrician include a letter saying that it had all been replaced. If you can have your home inspector perform a reinspection, do, but ours wouldn’t reinspect repairs performed by a professional electrician.

  25. Amanda says 01 June 2011 at 10:33

    I appreciated the recommendation to have a new home inspected. That’s exactly the instance I would have thought it wasn’t necessary!

  26. Mark says 01 June 2011 at 12:36

    So here’s the flip side to this issue. About 7 years ago we were selling our house in the midst of a really hot real estate market. People were bidding against each other for our house, driving up the sales price. Some sweetened the pot by dropping the request for an inspection.

    We thought, great. One less thing to worry about. So the day before the closing, they came to do the walk through and brought an inspector with them. He identified a problem with the air conditioning. The law is – inspection or no inspection – all the major systems of the house have to be in working order. We had to scramble to take care of that issue in the last minute or put off the closing.

    It was extremely inconvenient, especially since we had already moved across the country.

  27. Sarah says 01 June 2011 at 12:43

    I just spent four hours getting the farm that we have an offer in inspected. I really like our inspector. He goes everywhere and also alerts us to potential problems based in what he can see (i.e. rot behind walls). He’s warned us about the compromised roofline in the barn and the potential steel septic tank. We’re actually going to request an extension on our inspection deadline, so we can get some quotes to discuss with the seller.

  28. ChicagoGirl1 says 01 June 2011 at 15:29

    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.

  29. Justin @ MoneyIsTheRoot says 01 June 2011 at 16:12

    I went with an inspector that was highly recommended by my realtor, in retrospect I shouldve done more research but luckily everything seemingly has worked out fine.

  30. Carrie H says 02 June 2011 at 06:28

    We had a home inspection done prior to purchasing a 120 yr old home which confirmed everything we had thought might be “wrong” with the house. But because the foundation was 4 ft thick limestone and the house was in a wet area, we wanted to have an engineer look it over as well. The seller mentioned that she had the house inspected by an engineer prior to listing it, and could give us a copy of his report thus saving us $1000.00 for a new one. We accepted it, it stated that everything was rock solid, and we bought the house. 4 months later, the house started collapsing on its foundation. A local masonry company jacked up the house, replaced a dissolving foundation, and saved our home (and possibly our lives, it was that bad a mess). To the tune of $50,000.00. We took the seller to court and the judge stated that because the original engineer worked for her, she could have had him write a report that stated the sky was green and it would have been ok. Our mistake was in accepting a report written for HER, not one meant to be used by US to confirm the actual state of our foundation (which was hidden behind a finished interior and the soild outside). But he did recommend that we contact the local engineering society and report the engineer/author of the phony report. We did, and it turned out that he’d done this several times. They told him they’d suspend his licencse indefinitely unless he compensated us – thank God he agreed to cover 1/3 of the cost, but it almost bankrupted us covering the remaining 2/3 while our scummy seller walked. Lesson: get a home inspection, get an engineer, but make sure they’re working for YOU, and not the seller. Sigh.

  31. Trina says 02 June 2011 at 07:44

    My understanding is that in PA the Realtor is not permitted to recommend an inspector for this very reason. Other states may be the same, but YMMV, of course!

  32. Katie B. says 02 June 2011 at 09:34

    April, thanks for the informative and timely advice! On my to-do list for yesterday was to call and interview home inspectors, so I was particularly delighted to see your article on GRS first thing in the morning!

  33. John-Michael says 02 June 2011 at 14:56

    There is no such thing as passing an inspection.. there is no pass or fail. Its used simply as a buyers guide to know what they are actually purchasing and what items will need to be addressed immediately and long term.
    There are different inspections too. Pest and Structural, general inspection, chimney, roof, etc. The 1st inspection is good for calling out dry-rot, termite and structural problems. The general inspection goes through the mechanics of a home and service life of items like roofs, appliances, furnaces, water pressure, piping, etc. Most buyers are not aware of that a general inspection may tell you whats wrong but no cost associated for repairs.. just a sentence that reads “We recommend contacting a license plumber, electrician, etc. I always have contractor meet with the buyers after so they can get a sense of how much things will cost immediately and in coming years. As far as the pest report goes.. take the report to a contractor and save yourself a lot of money as most pest companies sub the work out and it is not warranted.
    Also, anytime you have a contractor work on your house be sure to post a notice of non responsibility protecting yourself from any claims arising from a contractor not paying a sub-contractor. This will protect you from receiving a mechanics lien on your home which will not go away until they have been paid and will cloud your title in case you want to sell.

  34. First Step says 02 June 2011 at 15:15

    As an office manager for a real estate agent, here’s my two cents. If you don’t trust your real estate agent’s recommendations, get a new agent. Seriously, if you think the agent is just out to close your deal, you need to find someone that you are more comfortable with. I wouldn’t work for my boss if I thought she was misleading clients. I realize not all agents or the vendors they recommend are trustworthy, so you should go with your gut instinct.

    We recently went through four contracts with a couple that fell through before they finally closed on the fifth house. Two of the houses had structural defects so they canceled the contract based on that contingency, and on two others we weren’t able to agree to terms. Many agents would have fired this couple as clients, and I think it speaks highly of the agent I work for that she stuck with them. In the end, the clients were satisfied, and my boss got a glowing recommendation from them for her patience and her willingness to go to bat for her clients.

    I’ll also be the first to agree that recommendations from friends don’t always work out. When we were searching for an agent 8 years ago, two friends (who don’t know each other) recommended the same agent. She showed us a few houses, but we dropped her because she consistently sent us listings in areas that we would never live in, even after we told her we weren’t considering that part of town.

    The bottom line is to hire someone who you feel has your best interests in mind, and don’t sign a buyer agency agreement that goes for too long of a period, in case the business relationship doesn’t work out.

    • Debbie M says 03 June 2011 at 12:56

      I totally trusted my realtor, but I was mistaken. Also, my gut is deficient and does not produce instincts. Some people have a sense of direction, some people have gut instincts–I have to find other tools for those jobs.

  35. brint says 02 June 2011 at 19:08

    well fuck YEAH! I got reamed by a shitty inspector. His price was right and he had no experience on older homes – and ours was 150 years old. He missed shit that depleted our spirit and lucre. Look for an asshole who is going to write up the smallest problems and then beat the seller over the head with it. There are no friends in property transactions

    • Samantha says 03 June 2011 at 12:03

      Moderator…?

      • SLCCOM says 03 June 2011 at 21:15

        It sounds like one really fed-up victim. I know from whence Brint comes…

  36. Jen says 04 June 2011 at 09:37

    Yeah, I know someone who moved into a new house, started to take a shower and the pipes hadn’t been connected properly, making a huge mess!

  37. MrsKruse says 06 June 2011 at 09:22

    We gave up using certified home inspectors…everyone we talked to refused to guarantee their recommendations & opinions. I sure as heck wasn’t going to pay $500 for someone to give me an opinion that they wouldn’t stand by.

    Instead, we hired a local architectural firm…they charged me about $1000, but they had two folks out at our house (a “home inspector” and an architectural engineer) for several hours. And I had a report that they were willing to stand behind (which came in handy when we had to threaten to sue our builder).

    Our realtor recommended a home inspector, but a realtor friend recommended using an architecture firm. We’ll listen to our friend next time as well.

  38. Susan Ayers says 23 June 2011 at 08:36

    Ahhh I wish I had hired my own inspector when I bought my house.. This was my first purchase, I did it all by myself, with no one to assist.. Yeah.. I got an inspection. It was with THEIR inspector. Everything checked out except ONE plug in the bathroom.. replaced it, no problems.. until literally, the first night in the house.

    All I can say is, the movie The Money Pit? I think I bought that house… Turned out the foundation was cracking because the retaining wall was sinking. Turns out the electrical was sub par and dangerous. Turns out there were critters in the attic. They had been there awhile apparently. Oh and the plumbing was a real joy..

    Long story short, between a pay cut due to the economy, skyrocketing repair bills, and a mortgage that was bought out by a subprime lender… 4 years to the day after I signed the papers, they took possession of my home.. I missed my first payment in Nov 2010 because of emergency plumbing repairs. Dec and Jan payments due to electrical issues that could have burned down my house… By March I had the money but they wouldn’t take it. I moved out April 1 because I could no longer afford both repairs AND payments. June 6 they sold it.

    • Phiilip says 25 April 2016 at 17:46

      Wow!!!
      I’m debating to buy a 1956 house in 2016. It looks great outside and in. There will probably be a bidding war. I don’t want to lose this deal so I’m bidding much over the asking price. I was debating if I should have an inspection knowing that others might not do the same. But I think it’s best to have an inspection done. Thanks for sharing your story. Better luck on your next house.

  39. Camden says 19 October 2012 at 04:43

    It’s imperative a property report and survey is undertaken before you buy, the survey should identify any costly defects, roof reports are more important.

  40. Performing Agents says 03 February 2014 at 16:04

    That’s a great point that new homes still need an inspection, not everybody realizes that!

    All around, excellent article, thanks for sharing so much info, the author obviously knows what they’re talking about!

    Regards,
    Mike
    P.A.

  41. Get The Best Home Inspection Services says 22 April 2014 at 21:12

    Your blog is really useful for everyone who are planning to buy a home with their hard earned wealth. I like the tips that you have shared.

  42. Dketeldijk says 29 April 2014 at 05:50

    Thank you so much for the advise. Inspections are a must. And so is listening to neighbors in the area of the New home. The thank you again!

  43. Mr Thomas says 13 June 2014 at 04:38

    property inspection is very much required while buying a home, it will help to find the real value of the property as per the experts point of view.

  44. Weris says 23 December 2014 at 03:15

    Exactly, the termite and pest infestations would be harmful to the properties of the home. So, before buying the new home we have to check out the corners of the furniture and walls. It is the first and most important step towards the safe and clean living.

  45. Allena Smtih says 16 May 2016 at 18:18

    Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely out there.

  46. Victoria Huntington says 20 March 2017 at 00:24

    In my opinion make sure that all the mechanicals are in working order. Also make sure windows and insulation is satisfactory. At the end of the day get a qualified home inspector to look at the house with you.

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