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Why Homebuyers Should Get a Home Inspection

By Lew Corcoran

No home is perfect. Every home – including newly constructed ones – has issues. You should not expect sellers to disclose any information about the condition of the house you want to buy, or about any potential hazards to the property. Even if the seller provides you a recent home inspection report, it’s best not to rely on it as the seller may have chosen an inspector who’s a friend or family member, or someone who’s not known to be tough on rooting out problems.

You should also ask the seller to provide any and all disclosures about the property before you hire a home inspector. You should be aware that not all sellers will know about all of the problems with the house. Some do know, but will feign ignorance, while others may disclose some but not all of the known issues with the house. In any case, the disclosures will be useful for your home inspector to better check out any known problems.

This makes a home inspection an important part of the home-buying process. So, long before you make settlement on a home, you should have the home checked out by a professional home inspector. And, it should be included in your purchase and sale agreement as a condition of closing the sale.

Before paying for a professional inspection, you can and should conduct your own informal inspection with your agent. The best time to do this is before you make an offer to purchase the house. You’ll save yourself both the time and trouble if you find any serious problems.

When doing your informal inspection, look for issues such as missing roof shingles or gutters coming loose, old or low-quality fixtures and appliances, signs of water damage, problems with the electrical or plumbing system, sloping floors or bowing walls, doors or windows not opening or closing properly, as well as other signs of wear, tear, and things in need of repair.

If you find the issues are relatively minor in nature, you’d most likely will be able to submit a purchase offer without an inspection contingency. This will reassure the seller that your offer is firm, and is not something you’re likely to whittle away at after you completed the home inspection.

If you decide that you want the home inspected anyway, it should be done immediately after all parties have signed the Purchase and Sale Agreement. You usually have 10 days from the signing of the agreement to complete the home inspection. And, you’ll want any major issues addressed early on – not on the day of settlement.

As a home buyer, you want someone who will be tough and thorough. Ask homeowning friends for recommendations, or check with the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) at

Inspectors vary in experience, ability and thoroughness. But, a good inspector should examine certain components of the home you want to purchase, and then produce a detailed report covering his or her findings. A home inspection will cost you around $300 – $500 and about 3 – 4 hours of your time – depending on the age, size and type of home. But when it’s done, you’ll be glad you did it.

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