If you’re buying a home in Northern VA, you may be wondering whether or not a home inspection is worth the expense. After all, home inspections can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 depending on the size of the home.
Here at The Belt Team, we almost always advise our clients to get a home inspection done. (Now – whether or not to make your contract CONTINGENT on a home inspection or whether to just have one “for informational purposes” is a whole other question!)
Why do we recommend home inspections? Well, our experience is that it is in your best interests as a buyer to have one. But in today’s market (which in most areas is a Seller’s Market), the purpose of a home inspection is not what you might think. Some buyers approach the inspection as a time to re-negotiate the original contract terms based on the laundry list of items that often come up. And while sometimes that is possible, oftentimes the Seller will just void the contract and put it back on the market – especially in cases where there were competing contracts to start with. So in this regard, the home inspection is a good educational opportunity. The home inspector will show you all kinds of things you need to know – where the water cut-offs are, where there are GFI outlets that need adjusting, items that may need repaired or replaced, etc. If you’re buying a “resale” home, you should expect to have a “honey do” list of items. After all, it’s not a new home.
However, there is great validity to finding out whether there are any “major” issues you might not have anticipated. When you look at a house with your agent, there are a number of things you may notice that need doing – things like fixing windows, cleaning carpets, repairing crown moulding, replacing an older HVAC unit, etc. So when you write your offer to purchase, you can take these into account before you decide on what price to offer.
But, there may also be “major” things that need doing that you need a professional to point out. For example – structural damage that is not easily apparent, roof issues that are spotted from a ladder or signs of mold that are found in the crawl space. These are items that may cause you not to want to buy the house after all, or things that may cost you significant amounts of money to fix. We want our Buyers to buy (or not buy!) with their eyes wide open and a home inspection allows you to do that. (Note: A home inspection is not a 100% guarantee that every possible issue will be found. But it is the best way to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible.)
Last year, despite our recommendation for a home inspection, we had clients who decided against having one. The husband was a construction supervisor for a commercial builder. And he felt comfortable that he had looked over the house & could deal with whatever he found when he moved in.
A week after we ratified the contract, the couple wanted to go back over to the house to do some measuring for curtains and furniture. So we arranged access and met them back at the house. On that visit, the husband noticed something that had escaped notice the first time. MOLD. It wasn’t readily visible. But since they were looking at things more closely to get exact measurements, he became aware of it. At this point, we asked a lot more questions of the Seller. The Seller called in an expert and it turned out that there was a MAJOR mold issue the Seller had not been aware of. Our clients decided they did not want to buy the house. (Although the Seller offered to fix it at his cost, the Buyers had allergy issues and were not comfortable with the situation.)
Thankfully, although they had not followed our advice about a home inspection, they HAD taken our advice and at least made the contract contingent upon one. So, after lengthy negotiations, we were able to get them out of the contract. They since bought another home, had a professional home inspection, and are happily ensconced in that home!
Moral of the story? Have a home inspection. And have it done by a professional who knows what they are looking for (even if you are in a related business!). It might cost you $400, but that’s a $400 investment toward education and insurance against unknown future problems.
(And if you decide not to have one, whether it’s because you are competing to buy a particular home, or because you want to save money – make sure you discuss the implications with your Realtor ahead of time!)
You can find more Home Buyer Tips and Home Buyer Reports on The Belt Team’s web site.
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