In a seller’s market, when it’s easier to sell a home than to buy one, it can be tempting to get caught up in the moment and do whatever you can to beat out the competition for the home you’ve been waiting to buy.
You may have heard that one way to get ahead on the list of buyers is to forego a home inspection and simply prepare for any repairs that may come later.
But is that a good idea?
A lot of folks have a lot of opinions on the topic. Some say ‘yes’; others shout an emphatic ‘no.’
We’ll let you sort it out for yourself, but to help you do that, here are some pros and cons of home inspections.
Benefits to Home Inspections
1. Find any immediate problems and prepare for future repairs.
It almost goes without saying — a home inspection can help you see what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed right away.
Because home inspectors visually examine the property, they can easily find exposed wiring, visible mold, rotting wood, or other obvious signs of disrepair. Inspectors who are experienced in their craft know instinctively where the most likely trouble spots will be and spend the time to search thoroughly for them.
But the inspection doesn’t only reveal urgent repair needs… It also helps a buyer forecast future repairs. Maybe the roof isn’t currently leaking, but it’s showing signs of age. Or perhaps the 10-year-old deck has some wear and tear that will need touching up in another five years.
In addition to exposing current trouble spots, home inspections done well can uncover potential future problems and help buyers start budgeting for future maintenance as early as the day they purchase their home.
2. Save money because you address problems early.
Being able to address repairs early and to start saving for long-term maintenance saves buyers money over time. Upkeep to a home, like anything else, needs constant attention. When appliances break down, paint chips and fades, or water seeps in after a long, hard rain, it’s important to take care of replacements and repair early before bigger problems result.
Because home inspections shed light on these issues — both current and future — buyers can use the inspector’s report to help them save money by asking the seller to take care of what’s most pressing. If they go through with the purchase, buyers can also use the information to start planning for a future roof replacement or upgrade of appliances right from the start.
3. Get negotiating power for bidding and wiggle room for dodging the contract.
Buyers may also be able to save money by negotiating a lower selling price in lieu of the seller repairing the property. If the seller’s interested in making the deal quickly and moving on, a buyer may find the home inspector’s report provides significant negotiating power, depending on the number of repairs needed and the extent of damage.
If the damage is too much, requiring too many repairs, the home inspection — along with an inspection contingency — leaves the power completely in the hands of the buyer. Buyers have the right to back out of a contract entirely if they have an inspection contingency and they aren’t satisfied with what the home inspection revealed.
Drawbacks to Home Inspections
It’s easy to see that home inspections offer a number of benefits, but you may be wondering about drawbacks. Are there any? And, if so, what are they?
1. Home inspections take time.
While no one would likely argue that giving a home inspector enough time to thoroughly look over a property and evaluate it is worthwhile, some buyers are in a rush. They may be moving their family because of a last-minute job change or the urgent need to be close to aging parents. In those situations, time feels short and every minute that ticks by seems like an eternity.
What those buyers want more than anything is to find a new home, get through all the paperwork, move in, and get settled. Home inspections drag the process out. Good home inspectors are booked in advance, so simply getting on their calendars requires patience.
Then, those who are the best in the business will take their time and do a quality inspection, which takes hours — not minutes. Finally, they have to prepare the report, which adds even longer to the buyer’s wait time.
2. No one can give a guarantee that a seller will accept the offer.
While buyers wait through the process of finding and hiring a home inspector and allowing time for the inspection and follow-up paperwork, they may be on pins and needles enduring the ambiguity of not knowing whether the seller will actually accept their offer.
They may feel they’ve gone through an awful lot of trouble — and some expense — all without any assurance they’ll have a house when the process is finalized. The lack of guarantee that it will all be worthwhile is perhaps the biggest drawback to investing in a home inspection.
3. Buyers pay the upfront cost of home inspections.
Homeguide says the average cost of a home inspection is $325, so buyers can expect to invest $250 to $400 in the upfront costs. Compared to the expense of a house or to the price of costly repairs, a few hundred dollars may not seem like much.
But when you combine upfront costs, waiting times, and the lack of a guaranteed home purchase, the cons add up.
Like almost anything else, home inspections come with their own set of pros and cons. When you’re in the market for a new home, it’s important to weigh the information for yourself and choose what works best for your family and your budget.
Also, remember that the professionals at Gaskill Realty are standing by to help you choose well. If you’re not sure whether to set up a home inspection before you buy, give us a shout!