Being aware of any issues before purchasing a home is important, as it can help you budget what needs to be fixed or make the decision to rescind an offer. With a competitive housing market, buyers are forgoing home inspections now more than ever. While this can provide an edge in successfully closing on a property, waiving a home inspection comes with significant risks.
Do you need a home inspection?
A report from Redfin revealed that 20 percent of winning home offers waived their inspection contingency in June 2020, up 13 percent from the previous year. Home inspections cost anywhere from $300 to $500, however, if there are glaring issues with the home, you can become aware of them prior to closing. The contingency is used in the case where a home inspection reveals issues, leaving the buyer the chance to back out within an allotted time frame or to renegotiate an offer.
Whether or not it's worth the risk to skip a home inspection is up to you. Keep in mind, though, it'll likely cost you less money to enlist a neutral, third-party professional to assess the home you are about to buy than it will to fix major issues you missed later on.
What does a home inspection cover?
A quality home inspection can provide a lot of information about the home you're buying. Typical home inspections last 2 to 3 hours. It's recommended that you're present with the inspector during this process to ask any questions or clarifications while they are conducting the inspection.
While it varies, a home inspector is looking for issues that might affect the property's value, and they typically cover:
Windows and doors
Attics and basements
Structural components (floors, walls, stairs, etc.)
Sometimes an area of the home is off-limits, either due to potential safety risks to the inspector or it is just behind locked doors. Any space that is not accessible will be noted by the inspector in their report.
Why are home inspections important?
Having your home inspected may uncover some critical issues that can become hazardous to your health. As you go through the inspection with your qualified home inspector, they will help you to identify certain toxins such as lead, mold, or asbestos-containing materials. These things are especially important to look for if you are interested in purchasing an older home. Exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma cancer, which is a rare cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers and most commonly impacts the lining of your lungs. Exposure to lead can cause impairments in cognitive function, especially in developing children. If you're aware of these potential risks prior to purchasing, you can save you and your family from potential health impacts.
Other safety issues that can be discovered during an inspection can be related to the structure of the home. Solid framing of walls and flooring are important to check so that all of your surfaces are supported for not only your weight but can take the typical weight of furniture and appliances. The indoor staircases and any outdoor steps can also pose potential risks. They should be checked for sturdiness, step width, and depth, and there should be a proper railing. Structural safety is even more important to pay attention to if you have children that may not be aware of hazardous situations.
A good inspection also may be able to save you money in the long run. If there are major issues that need to be addressed in order to meet safety standards of living, finding out ahead of time can allow you to put that financial burden on the seller as opposed to yourself. One way to do this is to make your offer contingent on the completion of certain changes. You can also choose to lower your offer, due to the cost you will incur by fixing the problems at a later date.
Deciding to invest in a home could be one of the largest financial decisions that you make in a lifetime. Having a complete picture of the house, prior to finalizing the purchase, can ensure the safety of you and your family and make you confident in the decision you're making.