Home Inspections Aren’t Required, but Here’s Why They Should Be

Home inspections

There’s so much more to every house than the way that it looks on the surface.

There are exceptions, but in many cases no one will force a buyer to get a home inspection in order to get financing. It’s not cheap, and many buyers don’t understand the difference between an inspection and an appraisal. So it stands to reason that a lot of people skip the inspection, even though that’s not a good idea.

Every home needs an inspection, whether it’s a new custom build or 100 years old. It protects the buyer against investing in something that could turn out to be a money pit. Realtor.com says that it’s certainly tempting for some buyers to skip the inspection. But if they do, they’re asking for trouble.

Even New Homes Have Defects

Most people imagine that a brand new home with brand new walls and a brand new set of appliances has to be in perfect condition. After all, no one has lived there before. But defects don’t only deal with wear, tear and age-related problems.

Practically anything in a home can be defective brand new. A roofer might have forgotten to install flashing, or a water heater might not heat water. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean that it’s free from problems, but an inspection can turn them up.

Older Homes Might be Unsafe

In an older home, almost anything is potentially defective. A brand new breaker box doesn’t necessarily indicate new wiring throughout the home. And visible PVC plumbing pipe in the bathroom or under the kitchen sink doesn’t mean there’s no corroded galvanized piping in the basement.

With an older home, inspections are critical. They can reveal inferior insulation, an HVAC unit that barely gets by or problems with the roof or another major system. Skipping an inspection on an older home is taking a major risk.

Home inspections

Unless the buyer is an expert, chances are he couldn’t evaluate a home as thoroughly as a home inspector.

Some Defects Aren’t Obvious

Some home buyers believe that if there are defects, they couldn’t be tough to find. Missing shingles and a cracked foundation stand out, and if the tap doesn’t produce hot water there’s obviously a problem.

But for every overt defect, there are many others that prospective home buyers can’t see or wouldn’t know to look for. A home inspection gets into the finer details and uncovers problems or potential problems to protect a buyer from a bad investment. And on the other hand, it can offer peace of mind to move ahead.

An Appraiser Could Still Kill the Sale

Sometimes a buyer wants a home regardless of its defects. This is common with buying historic or very old property that comes with a lot of character. But with character might also come mold, unsafe renovations from the past and a host of other defects. If a buyer chooses to skip the inspection because he knows that there are problems, the appraiser might kill the sale anyway.

Appraisers work for the lender. They investigate the property top to bottom, look for comparable properties in the area, and ultimately arrive at a market value for the home. But if the appraised value is lower than the sale price, the lender is unlikely to extend financing, at least not without a substantial down payment. With an inspection, the buyer learns about problems before he’s too emotionally invested in the property.

A home inspection is never a bad idea. Even when a buyer knows the property, an inspection can unearth defects or confirm the good condition of the house, sometimes to everyone’s surprise.

The service that home inspectors provide isn’t cheap, but it’s one of the most important steps in buying a house. Investopedia says that it’s also a good “crash course in home maintenance.” Some areas or lenders might require it. Many do not. But regardless of regulations or the local norm, it’s one of the best investments that anyone in the market to buy a house could take.

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