Professional home inspections are intended to provide peace of mind for prospective buyers by ensuring the structure is sound and that it will need no significant repairs soon after the sale closes.
Prospective buyers have three inspection options:
- Add an inspection contingency to the offer. If a significant problem is found that the seller chooses not to address or adjust the sales price, the buyer can back out of the deal.
- Order an inspection only for informational purposes. If buyers back out of the deal as a result of this inspection, they may forfeit their earnest money.
- No inspection.
What Does a Professional Inspection Involve?
Certified home inspectors examine the exterior and interior of the home. They test and inspect the condition of the electrical, plumbing, roofing, HVAC systems, and foundation. Experienced and certified inspectors know where to look to identify signs of deterioration and corrosion.
Sometimes the buyer may request that the inspector pay close attention to specific items they noticed when viewing the home. Typically, home inspection findings include:
- Whether a problem is a major or minor defect or is a safety issue.
- What needs to be replaced, repaired, or serviced.
- Which items should be closely monitored after the closing.
Inspections may even reveal health or safety issues like mold or faulty wiring that need addressing before moving into the home.
Offers to buy a home commonly include a contingency that allows the prospective buyer to withdraw or negotiate for the repair of any deficiencies that may be discovered during a professional inspection.
When conditions are favorable for buyers, and the supply of homes on the market exceeds the demand, offers typically include a professional home inspection contingency. When home inspections reveal problems, the home seller may have to decide on fixing the deficiencies, lowering their asking price, or plan on the home remaining on the market for much longer than desired.
What Happens in a Seller’s Market?
Conversely, competition to purchase can intensify when there is a limited supply of available homes. Offers may begin arriving on the first day of the listing giving homeowners several to consider.
With multiple similar offers, sellers usually accept the one that carries the fewest contingencies (like inspections, financing, or buyer’s home sale). So, the seller will likely reject an offer with an inspection contingency instead of one without the contingency.
Is a Home Inspection Necessary?
While performing an inspection before closing is helpful and even expected in many instances, prospective buyers should realize that an offer with an inspection contingency may lead to rejection. In addition, sellers should remember that many lenders require a home inspection before final loan approval.
Most experts suggest that homebuyers consider investing in an inspection, even if only for informational purposes. Should an inspection reveal a severe problem, it may be less expensive to walk away from an earnest money deposit than to close on a home that requires more work than expected.
Conclusion: A home inspection is important but not always necessary.
Work with a Professional Realtor
Whether the market is hot or cool, prospective buyers should always work with an experienced real estate professional. A Realtor with current market knowledge can advise buyers and help write an offer designed to protect their interests while enhancing the chances for success.