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July 12th, 2013

Home inspection: The step you can’t afford to skip

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Below is a post by Lindsay, first appearing on our partner site the Quizzle blog at Quizzle.com:

InspectorBuying a home, particularly your first home, is a scary, exciting, and very, very expensive.

When you’re caught up in the whirlwind of negotiating the price of the home, putting down earnest money, and signing all the necessary paperwork, a lot of new homeowners don’t want to think about dealing with the hassle and expense of a home inspection. After all, paying for the inspector is an additional – and optional – out-of-pocket cost for the buyer. But while skipping the home inspection step might be tempting, you may be sorry if you don’t take advantage of seeing what’s going on below the surface of your home before you commit to buying it.

To illustrate this point, I’ll use my recent condo purchase as an example: a few weeks ago, I signed the paperwork to purchase my first home. After a lot of back-and-forth over the price of the condo, I was anxious to keep the process moving forward and considered declining a home inspection. After all, my new place is a 625 square foot unit in a well-maintained building. How much could possibly be wrong with it?

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But, at the urging of my realtor, I bit the bullet and paid the $275 for the inspection. I was practically tapping my foot while the inspector was poking around in the condo, fully expecting to kick myself for wasting the money when the unit got a clean bill of health. So imagine my surprise when the inspector took the panel off of the HVAC unit and pointed out some major issues: the system was contaminated with lead paint, which was being blown all over the condo by the air conditioning unit. The inspector broke the news that, because an EPA-certified specialist would be required to clean it properly, it could cost upwards of $2,000 to be repaired properly.

$2,000?! I was understandably dismayed, but at the same time a little bit relieved. Because my sales contract specified that the purchase of the condo was contingent on the home inspection, I could ask the seller to fix the issue, and if he declined, I was legally able to walk away. Luckily, when my realtor notified the seller’s agent of the issues that the home inspection turned up (there were also some minor plumbing and electric problems), the seller quickly agreed to pay for the repairs and we were able to proceed with the sale. But had I not gone through with the inspection, the costs for all the fixes the condo needed would have been my responsibility.

So when it comes to home inspections, this is my advice

  • Be sure that your realtor writes into your sales contract that your purchase is contingent on a home inspection. Usually this is just a little box the agent checks on the initial contract that’s sent to the seller’s agent, but double-check that it’s there when you’re signing the documents.
  • Set aside $200-$500 for the inspection. Costs vary by geographic location, but usually inspections don’t cost more than $500.
  • Ask friends and family members for a recommendation for a reputable home inspector and get the inspection lined up as soon as your contract is ratified. Usually, home sale contracts specify that you have 7-14 days to conduct the inspection, so be sure to get it scheduled as soon as possible.

Home inspections are somewhat costly, but they could end up saving you thousands of dollars in repairs. When it comes to the home-buying process, take my word for it: you can’t afford to skip this important step!

Related links:

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One Response to “Home inspection: The step you can’t afford to skip”

  1. Jason Says: July 21st, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Absolutely great advice. I would never think about buying any home, even a brand new home I was having built, without recommending that an inspector go through and check everything up front. I know people who have saved upwards of $15,000 or more by paying around $250 for an inspector.

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HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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