Let’s play a game. Would you rather…
- Swan dive into a giant pool of expired yogurt?
- Buy a house without having a home inspection first?
Okay, sure. That one’s a softball.
So how about this: Would you rather spend or save a couple hundred bucks when buying a house? How about 300? 400? Plus, cut a week or more off the time it takes to close? Kind of tempting now, right? After all, doesn’t it seem like the extra costs never seem to end when you’re buying a house? Insurance, PMI, title search, points, transfer tax… it really adds up.
It’s understandable that given a chance to not spend more money, you’d want to take it. But let’s make one thing absolutely, crystal clear: under no circumstances should you EVER pass on a home inspection. Not if it’s the last unsold home in your city. Not if the seller swears the house is in great shape and has the most open smile and reassuring handshake in history.
Why? Two words: Money Pit.
It’s amazing just how many very-expensive-to-repair-or-replace elements a modern home contains—things that may look fine to a layperson, but to a professional, are clearly ready to give up. A short list includes:
Things That Break
- Water heaters
- HVAC systems
- Electrical systems
Things That Wear Out
Now we’re onto the expensive stuff: cracks in the foundation, a sagging roof, termite-ridden joists, sewer connections and drainage systems, radon, water damage, and mold.
Things That Are Illegal
You may think that off-code addition means you’ve got an extra room to put stuff in, or maybe rent out, but what it means is eventually your city will find out, and they will cite you to have it removed and bring your house up to code.
Things That Cost You In the Long Run
Want the best mortgage rates? Most likely the only way you’ll get them is if you can demonstrate to a lender that your asset won’t suddenly be worth thousands of dollars less once the truth about the moisture damage comes out.
“But What If…”
You really need a house? And you want it to be the one you’re looking at right now?
At the very least, insist on a pre-inspection and an examination of the sewer system. Instead of a soup-to-nuts review of a home, a pre-inspection goes over the property at the “systems level.” This will alert you to any big problems before you submit a bid.
And, of course, if the inspector recommends any other inspections, take them up on it.
Maybe in the future when every single shingle, hinge, and drywall screw is connected to the internet, we’ll have plenty of warning when a gasket is about to leak, or a stud is getting a bit mushy. But right now a qualified home professional is the next-best available resource.
Someone In Your Corner
And that’s another reason to hire an inspector. Almost everyone involved in the process of your buying a home is either working for the seller or working for the sale. A home inspector works for you.
The National Association of Home Inspectors merged with the American Society of Home Inspectors in early 2017, so you can use their Home Inspector Search App to find a qualified inspection professional in your area. You can also ask for referrals from your Realtor and from anyone you know who has recently purchased a home.
Just make sure the inspector has invested in the latest technology, such as infrared cameras, in addition to the standard gear like moisture meters.
At the End of the Day
Not every issue with a house is necessarily a deal breaker. A broken section of gutter, a crack in a wall, and a backdoor that’s slightly off-level are all fixable and may just be items for a to-do list instead of symptoms of something much more costly.
And maybe for you, a roof that is nearing the end of its warranty is an acceptable trade-off to gaining equity with every house payment.
But at least with a home inspection, you know what’s going to need to be repaired or replaced, and you can plan and budget for these issues—instead of waking up one day to a view of the sky that wasn’t there when you went to bed the night before.
Want to know more about why home inspections are so important? Find a loan expert now.