Buying a home is exciting, whether it’s your first or your fifth. Once you have purchased a few homes, you basically become an expert on the process, but for first-time buyers it can all seem a little overwhelming and mind-boggling.

One of the most important parts of buying a home is the inspection. When properly done, it can ensure that you, as the buyer, know exactly what you are purchasing. A home inspection can also help to get you out of a deal that went awry.

In this post, we’ll talk about how you can protect yourself with a home inspection, and what exactly you can do with the information that it gives you.

A Home Inspection as a Condition

If you are buying a home through a realtor, chances are that they have already suggested a home inspection prior to solidifying the deal. If they haven’t, or if you are purchasing a home through a private sale, you should consider including a home inspection as a contingency in your offer.

That means that the amount that you and the seller agree upon is based on a positive inspection. If there are any issues once the inspection has been done, you should be able to back out of the deal with reasonable ease.

If you don’t include an inspection as a contingency, or condition, in your offer, you risk being stuck in a deal that you are uncomfortable with, for a home that may not be worth what you originally thought.

Home Inspections and the Selling Price

A home inspection can affect the value of a home, which may in turn affect the original offer. When you put in a formal offer, and the seller accepts it, it isn’t necessarily the price that you will end up paying if you made the offer dependent on a home inspection.

If the home inspection report comes back with issues that will cost you money to fix, you can request that the seller take those amounts off of the selling price.

For example, say that you and a seller agree to a price of $300,000 prior to the home inspection, and once completed, the report points out that repairs need to be made to the roof. You, as the buyer would have the option to get a quote on the work required and present it to the seller in order to have that amount subtracted from the original offer price.

So, if the roof repairs were estimated to cost $5000, the selling price would be modified to $295,000, if the seller agreed to cover the cost.

If the seller does not agree to cover the cost, and you no longer feel that the accepted offer price is fair, you can back out of the deal at this point, generally without penalties, as long as the home inspection was included as a condition of your offer.

Finding a Home Inspector

When choosing a home inspector, the buyer should always be the one to select an individual to inspect the home. Although the buyer will have to cover the cost of the inspection, allowing them to choose the inspector ensures that the seller doesn’t select someone who isn’t certified or who may have the seller’s best interests in mind instead of the buyer’s.

To find a good home inspector, you should choose someone who:

  • Has taken home inspection courses and received certification
  • Can provide references
  • Has experience in residential construction
  • Will provide you with a full report of the home, including photos
  • Is part of a professional home inspectors organization

Of course, you’ll also want to choose someone who you can trust and who you feel comfortable with. Do a quick search of them online and see if they have any reviews from other customers, or if their names are mentioned on any real estate sites in either a positive or negative light.

Often, realtors will have home inspectors that they have created relationships with, and who they trust. If necessary, they can suggest an inspector for you to use so that you don’t have to do all of the research yourself.

The seller can also choose to have an inspection done if they wish, but a buyer should always have one done on their own as well, unless the home is brand new and does not require an inspection. Any property that has been pre-owned or that was not built by a professional residential construction company should be inspected in order to ensure that it is up to code and that the buyer doesn’t encounter any unpleasant surprises.

What Does a Home Inspection Cover?

A home inspection should take a couple of hours to complete, since the inspector will be looking at so many different things. An inspector will check things such as:

  • Wiring and outlets
  • Signs of water damage
  • Plumbing
  • Exterior and interior structure
  • Roof damage
  • Other issues that could turn out to be costly if left unnoticed.

It’s important to remember that although a home inspector will take note of as much as they can, they are not obligated to report any damage that they weren’t able to access or see. That means that if, after you purchase a home, you find mold or even a leak in a wall, it probably isn’t the fault of the home inspector.

Make sure to go over their contract with them carefully, and ask questions about what they will check for, and what they can’t. Have a clear understanding of your responsibilities, and those of the inspector, prior to having the home inspected so that you are both on the same terms.

Putting Your Deal Through

Having a home inspection done can save you a lot of time and even money. Think of it as insurance on your offer, which can protect you from a bad deal or unknown issues that you hadn’t anticipated. Be a smart buyer by doing your research, so that you can enjoy your home once your deal goes through.

After the home inspection has been completed, and the price adjusted (if necessary), it is time for you to go ahead with the deal. Keep the home inspection report with all of the other paperwork that comes with your new home so that you can refer to it in the future if necessary.

Now you can sit back and enjoy your new investment, and feel confident in knowing that you did everything you could to make sure that it was a sound and solid purchase.

Has a home inspection ever saved you from a bad purchase? Have you ever purchased without one?

Posted by Brittany Foster

Brittany is a writer, editor, and content manager interested in law, marketing, and technology. She's been writing for LawDepot since 2014.