Are you preparing to buy your first home? If so, you likely have a long to-do list that includes hiring a real estate agent, an appraiser, and an inspector.
While you know that you won’t get away without a real estate agent and appraisal, is a home inspection required?
As it turns out, home inspections play a bigger role than you might expect in the buying process. A survey of realtors found that home inspection results were the second leading cause of failing to close a real estate contract.
It turns out that you can get a conventional mortgage without a home inspection. However, getting an inspection is often in your best interest, and if you hope to use an FHA loan, then the lender will strongly recommend it.
Are you currently on the fence about an inspection? Keep reading for a guide to what inspections are needed when buying a house.
What Is an Inspection?
A home inspection is completed by an inspector who assesses the condition of your property.
Inspections vary according to each agency, but generally follow a checklist of issues to look out for across the building, yard, and all the systems included. the inspector issues a pre-inspection agreement prior to the work. After their review concludes, they provide you with an inspection report.
The subject of the report helps you determine what, if any, problems you inherit if you buy the house. The most common problems highlighted by inspections include:
- Faulty wiring
- Poor drainage
- Basement water issues
- Clogged or bent gutters
- Roof issues
- Foundation cracks (including sloping floors and doors or windows that stick)
- HVAC issues
- Poor ventilation
Some of these are simple fixes, but others might:
- Damage the value of the house
- Require significant near-term investment
- Create future expensive problems
Unless you’re an inspector yourself, you might miss out on many of these common issues. After all, you won’t clamber about on the roof during your viewing.
Is It Different from an Appraisal?
An appraisal also looks at the property and assesses it’s true value. It exists to protect the lender from overpriced properties, which is why an appraisal is one of the last steps of the mortgage process. The bank uses an appraisal to ensure its investment is solid at the time of purchase – not six months ago.
Appraisers look at property characteristics like:
- Lot size
- Proximity to schools, parks, and facilities
- House size
- House condition
- Comparable property prices
An appraiser notices if the foundation is cracked or the window is broken, but they won’t look at other features found by inspectors.
Ultimately, the appraiser looks out for the bank whereas an inspector looks out for you the property buyer.
How to Get the Most Value from Your Home Inspection
The value of your inspection reports depends on the skills and strengths of your inspector.
To get use your home inspection to your advantage, you’ll want to start by researching the inspector. If you already have a real estate agent, they will likely offer a list of potential inspectors they work with. Although your real estate agent won’t purposely steer you wrong, researching your inspector is always a good idea.
Get in touch before hiring a home inspector. Ask them questions like:
- How long have they worked in the field?
- Do they do inspections full time?
- Are they certified or a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors?
- What did they do before becoming a home inspector?
Ideally, you want someone with five years experience who proactively seeks out training and has a background as a contractor or builder. An inspector should know not only where to look but how to assess the impact of the damage they see.
Request sample reports, references, and a list of qualifications before signing any contracts.
Make Sure You Attend the Inspection
Even when you find a home inspector with a keen eye, your presence at the inspection still benefits the report.
A great inspection report is helpful for the bank when required, but to get your money’s worth, you should be there to ask questions, seek explanations, and understand the full scope of what’s happening in the house.
Remember that a good inspector will insist on you being present. Some inspectors go so far as to turn down uninterested clients.
After the inspection, read the full report. Although you were onsite for the process, the report refreshes little details. Little details may get lost as you focus on the bigger picture, but they may impact your decision to complete the sale.
What to Do After the Inspection
You have a report detailing all the potential and current issues with the property. You know what’s wrong, but what do you do with it?
Some issues need to be fixed before you can buy the property. Each state amends its own list, but all states require you to fix:
- Structural defects
- Foundation issues
- Outdated systems/code violations
A homeowner can’t sell a house with a cracked foundation or an electrical system that poses a serious fire hazard.
From there, things are up in the air. You can negotiate minor repairs with the property owner, but a homeowner isn’t required to make those changes. Whether you’re buying or selling, flexibility is key.
Is a Home Inspection Required? No
Is a home inspection required for a mortgage? No, not unless you are working with a lender that writes it into the contract. However, home inspections are one of the most valuable tools you have during the home buying process.
A home inspector works to protect you – the buyer – whereas an appraiser looks out for the bank’s interest. If you viewed the house and want it but already see repairs, a home inspection report gives you some negotiating power with the seller, particularly if you’re in the later stages of the mortgage process.
Are you buying a home in northeastern Ohio? Contact Class Home Inspection to learn how we can protect the biggest purchase you’ll ever make – your home.