Getting smart with home inspections: Are they worth the cost?

Buying a home is a huge milestone. Because of the cost involved, it’s critical that you get your home professionally inspected. The money you save by catching serious problems before you buy is well worth the upfront cost of inspection.

Protecting Your Purchase

Information uncovered during an inspection could end up being a crucial bargaining tool, especially if the property’s sale price is on the high side. Real estate agents often advise their clients to include language in their purchasing contract that allows them to terminate an agreement if the inspection reveals serious problems , such as a weak foundation.

Savvy buyers also include language that specifies that the sale is contingent upon the seller’s willingness and ability to fix non-cosmetic problems discovered during an inspection. Speak to your agent about what clauses you want in your sales contract prior to signing any document. 

What Home Inspectors Do

Professional home inspections know where to look for potential problems and how to identify issues that the untrained eye may overlook. These professionals use special equipment and their own expertise to closely examine areas that untrained people can’t. It’s a good idea to see if you can accompany the inspector during his evaluation so you can ask questions and understand the process. An inspector should also give you a detailed report that specifies the problems he or she finds and what should be done.

Home inspectors can identify structural problems, plumbing system flaws, pest infestations and more. They’ll also check the heating and cooling appliances, electrical system, foundation, roof and other areas of the home.

Is It Worth the Cost?

Generally, home inspections cost a few hundred dollars. That may seem like a cost you’d rather not bear, especially since you’re about to spend so much money on the home. You may be tempted to skip the inspection and take a look at the property yourself.

However, if you decide to take your chances, you may find out later that your home has some serious problems that cost a lot of money to fix. Plus, most lenders require a home inspection before they’ll approve the loan. In other words, getting a home inspection may be something you have to get anyway.

Peace of Mind

A home inspection provides even more peace of mind for those who struggle with home repairs, such as an elderly person, disabled individual, single parent or someone who isn’t handy with a hammer and saw.

Home inspections allow you to know more about what you’re really buying. If severe problems are found that make you uncomfortable, you can opt out of the agreement (so long as that contingency is included). Or, if minor problems are discovered, you can require the seller to fix these before finalizing the purchase.

Ultimately, although a home inspection requires an upfront cost, it can save you thousands of dollars and a lot of unnecessary stress down the road.

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