A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components.
A home inspector is sometimes confused with a real estate appraiser. A home inspector determines the condition of a structure, whereas an appraiser determines the value of a property. In the United States, although not all states or municipalities regulate home inspectors, there are various professional associations for home inspectors that provide education, training, and networking opportunities. A professional home inspection is an examination of the current condition of a house. It is not an inspection to verify compliance with appropriate codes; building inspection is a term often used for building code compliance inspections in the United States. A similar but more complicated inspection of commercial buildings is a property condition assessment. Home inspections identify problems but building diagnostics identifies solutions to the found problems and their predicted outcomes.
Here are five important reasons to have a home inspection before you buy:
- Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover. Especially for those buying newer construction, a home inspection may feel like a waste of money. No matter the age of the home, there can be costly troubles unknown to the average buyer. Problems with wiring, plumbing and easement may not be visible during a showing and you’ll want to get an expert opinion.
- Save Money. Home inspections generally cost from $300 to $500 depending on size and age of the home. That’s a good sum, but perhaps think of it this way: Those who skip out on the expense may realize in a few years that an inspection is much cheaper than rewiring the entire house.
- Negotiate. One of the advantages of having a home inspection performed before you buy is the power it might give you to negotiate a lower price. If a home you’re really interested in is on the edge of your price range, information gathered during the home inspection may give you the bargaining power to talk down the price. You can also insert language into a purchase contract that allows you to back out of an agreement if the inspection turns up problems.
- Seller’s Repairs. Not only are you able to negotiate a lower price, many buyers include clauses in their contract requiring the seller to make the repairs necessary before any money is exchanged. If the seller is unwilling to complete the repairs, estimate the cost and ask them to take that amount off the total. Solid facts about the quality and condition of the home can give you valuable bargaining power.
- Know What You’re Buying. In the end the most important reason to have a home inspection before you buy is to really know what you’re buying. Research your potential home like you would any other major purchase. The more you know, the fewer surprises there will be down the road. Home inspectors can help you make a decision based on your current budget as well as your future time and money investment.