Should I Get a Real Estate Inspection?

When buying property, many buyers are concerned with making sure they are getting a good deal for their money. While a realtor will be able to give a buyer a lot of information about neighborhoods and expected home values, the one area they cannot help is determining the actual structural strength of the property.

The only way to get an accurate picture of expected maintenance costs as well as a good idea of what will need to be repaired after moving in is to get a real estate inspection. These inspections are performed by professionals who have to attend classes and pass a test in order to be licensed by most states. They are typically hired after a property goes under contract, and their reports are often cited when negotiating the contract. For example, many properties are purchased under the condition that the home inspector gives a satisfactory report. If the property cannot be repaired, it is possible for the buyer to walk away from the deal without forfeiting his or her earnest money.

A typical real estate inspection takes just a few hours and only costs few hundred dollars. They will usually start by checking the physical structure of the exterior of the house. Inspectors will look for cracks in the walls, signs of water damage, and other types of damage. Inside the house, they will look at the electrical and plumbing systems, the appliances (including the water heater and air conditioner), and some decorative features such as banisters and molding. They will also inspect the condition of other buildings on the property such as sheds, pool houses, and garages.

A home inspection report should note any visible defects, but they typically do not take apart structures in the home. For example, a home inspection report could point out leaks in plumbing components that the inspector can see, but it would not make note of a buried pipe that was not leaking noticeably. It would make note of standing water in the yard, however, and mention that a possible cause of their water would be a leaking underground pipe.

In most cases, home inspections allow a buyer to ask that several small items be fixed by the seller before the sale of the home is complete. In the case that a home is being sold “as is”, the report gives the buyer a list of items that they now know they will need to fix before they become bigger problems. When a home inspection report details major problems with a house, however, many buyers have to make some big decisions. Walking away is usually option, saving the buyer from the headache of making major repairs, but starting the hunt for a home all over again. Alternatively, the buyer can change his or her offer on the home; making sure that he or she has enough money to make the necessary repairs. Finally, a buyer can insist that the seller make the repairs before the sale is complete.