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Three cities in Ohio rank as the best places to buy as a first time home buyer. In Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland first time home buyers only need $20,000 to $30,000 for a down payment. 

It can be tempting to jump in right away when you find the home of your dreams. But without a home inspection, your dream home can quickly turn into a nightmare. 

Follow these nine home inspection tips for first-time buyers. 

1. Include It in the Contract 

Make sure that your contract with the sellers of the property includes a home inspection contingency. You might see it referred to as a “due diligence” contingency. Without this, you risk discovering a nasty and expensive problem later. 

This way you have a designated amount of time to hire a professional to inspect the property. If the inspector finds anything that could be a potential issue, then you have time to renegotiate or bow out or the purchase. 

2. Understand What Your Contingency Is 

Usually, the contingency lasts a couple of weeks from the date that you sign the contract. The amount of time you have can be negotiated for however long you need, and the seller is willing to give you. 

During this time you need to find a knowledgeable and qualified inspector. If you can, attend the inspection, and then schedule any follow-up inspections necessary. Once you have the inspection report, you can decide how you want to move forward. 

3. Don’t Hire Just Anyone 

Since the whole point of the inspection is to find any hidden or potential problems, you shouldn’t hire just anyone. Hire an inspector who has years of experience here in the Ohio area. 

That way they are familiar with the area’s soil, pests, and common problems. They will also be familiar with the local builders and their reputations. 


Make sure any inspector you hire has their own up to date insurance. This will protect you if they are injured while on the property. 


Ask the inspector if they are up to date on their certifications and training. That way they know the best practices and policies. 

4. Look at the Report 

Before you hire an inspector, ask to see a sample of the report that they will provide after your inspection. Since inspectors can create their own reports, you want to make sure the inspector you hire will give you a thorough yet also easily understandable report. 

Some inspectors will give you more words and data. While others will focus more of their report on visuals. 

Actually Read Your Report 

You paid for the inspection, so don’t waste your money by not reading it. Most inspectors will separate the report by room and note any area that needs repair or is nonfunctional. These are the terms you can expect to see.

Material defect: These problems will have a major impact on the home’s value or pose a safety threat. 

Major defect: These are major issues that are nonfunctional or need replacement. 

Minor defect: These are small repairs that you could have a contractor do after you move in. If you’re handy, you could even do them yourself. 

Cosmetic defect: These are superficial defects that don’t affect functionality, safety, or home value. You’ll be able to easily fix them once you move in. 

5. Use a Checklist 

Every inspector has their own system and way of doing things. However, they should still cover the items included on the standardized home inspection checklist

6. You Might Need Another One 

When you review the inspection report, you may find areas that need further, more in-depth secondary inspection. For example, the inspector might note that they see potential termite damage or mold. 

When this happens, you’ll need an inspection by a specialist. Here are some areas that commonly require an additional inspection. 

  • Asbestos 
  • Radon 
  • Termites 
  • Mold and mildew 
  • Lead 
  • Geological 
  • Pests 

7. Evaluate Your Priorities 

Once you have the results of your inspections, you’ll need to decide what you’re ok with. Consider the safety hazards and the cost it would take to fix them. 

Look at any issues that might prevent you from closing and moving in. These are issues that will cost a lot or take a long time to repair. 

You also need to decide what problems are no big deal. These are things that either you can live with or repair yourself. 

8. You Can Negotiate 

You have options when it comes to repairing the problems identified in the inspections. If nothing major was identified, then you can decide to move forward as planned. 

If there are some big problems that need repair, you can decide to move forward and pay for the repairs later. Most buyers don’t like this option though. 

Instead, ask to renegotiate the sale price or agree to a credit that equals the cost of the repair. The other option is to ask the seller to pay for the repairs. 

If all else fails and you aren’t comfortable, back out of the sale. 

9. Make Sure the Repairs Are Done 

If the seller agrees to make the repairs before the sale, it is vital that you make sure they are done correctly and to your liking. Have your agent schedule a walkthrough so you can track the repair progress. 

If the repairs were done to key areas of the home like the foundation and roof, then it is wise to have another inspection done. Have the same inspector come back if you can. That way they can compare the before and after and give you an accurate assessment. 

Follow These Home Inspection Tips for First-Time Buyers

If you follow these home inspection tips for first-time buyers, then you will be able to protect yourself. The worst thing you can do is skip the inspection altogether. 

Stay involved and active during the process. If you can attend the inspection to observe, do it, you have the potential to learn. Then review the report when they are done. 

Schedule your home inspection today and protect yourself during your first home purchase.