One of a home Buyer’s biggest fears is purchasing a home that has hidden defects or underlying issues that are unknown until they inhabit the property. The Seller of a property is required to complete a Seller’s Disclosure form, and let any potential Buyers know about some of the issues that are currently taking place on the property. These things include items such as defective electrical outlets, leaking roof, non-functioning toilets, etc. But, even if a Seller honestly discloses everything they know to be an issue with the property, there can still be latent defects that the average homeowner is probably unaware of. Que the home inspection.
While certain precautions ARE required by a mortgage lender if you are getting a loan (such as an appraisal), a home inspection is NOT something that is required. Often times, the appraisal and a home inspection get mixed up by the average consumer. An appraisal is a determination of monetary value of the property based on the opinion of the appraiser, and is based on comparable homes in the immediate vicinity of the subject property, and lastly takes into consideration improved or unimproved additions to the home. A home inspection does not determine the value of the property at all. Rather, it provides a relatively thorough inspection of the homes intended functionality and looks for any defects that a potential home Buyer should know about.
Who needs a home inspection?
As a real estate professional, I recommend every Buyer perform a home inspection. When you work with a reputable real estate agent, they should have some options for home inspection companies that you can reach out to and see if their services meet your needs. Prices generally range from $150 – $500 depending on services. Certain stipulations can make the price of the home inspection lean towards the steep end if you are a Buyer with an FHA loan. For example, if the property that you are considering has well water, the mortgage company will require the well water be tested for certain hazards such as bacteria, lead, or nitrates.
But will a home inspection tell a Buyer every defect in the home? Absolutely not.
A home inspector is a professional that is generally knowledgeable in most areas of home construction and repair. If a defect is found that is significant, or out of the scope of the inspection, they will suggest that the Buyer contact a qualified professional to take a look. For example, if there are shingles on the roof that are lifted and dated, but there are no signs of water intrusion in the attic of the home, a roofing contractor should come out and check on the roof to see if there are underlying conditions that should be brought to attention. Obviously, a home inspector also cannot predict the future and can only state the condition of the premise at the time of inspection. Personally, I have seen items fail in the following days after an inspection such as a water heater or HVAC unit.
Overall, a home inspection is a great investment to make when purchasing a home. At very least, it will give you a checklist of items that you should attend to within the first year in your new home. It may be optional, and seem like a chunk of change to spend in addition to purchasing a home… but it is one expense that is well worth it.