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Getting a Home Inspection Before You Buy

What to Look for, Costs and More

When you’re buying a home, a home inspection is one step you should never skip. Home inspections can uncover all sorts of problems with the structure and property that could cost you big bucks down the road.

A home inspection involves a thorough check of the entire home - inside and out. The inspector will evaluate the condition of the home’s foundation, roof, floors, heating systems, electrical systems, plumbing and more. He or she will also look for signs of mold, water damage or termite damage. When the inspection is complete, you will receive a report detailing all of the inspector’s findings. However, most homeowners choose to walk through the home with the inspector to get immediate feedback on the condition of the home.

It is always a good idea to write a home inspection into the purchase contract as a condition of the sale. That way you can back out of the deal or further negotiate on price if the inspection turns up major problems.

Cost of a Home Inspection

Home inspections are fairly inexpensive - usually about $300 to $500. The exact price depends on the size and condition of the home and your geographic location. The inspector’s experience might play a role, too.

Home inspections are well, well worth the money. If they don’t uncover any major problems, you’ve paid for peace of mind. If they do uncover big issues, the inspection has paid for itself many times over. Problems like a leaky roof or a shifting foundation cost many thousands of dollars to fix.

What to Do If You Get a Bad Inspection

There are two choices when you get a bad inspection: walk away or negotiate. If the problems seem too severe or you’re just not willing to deal with repairs, you can back out of the deal. But if you really love the house, you can ask the seller to complete the necessary repairs before closing or lower the price to cover the cost of repairs. Most sellers are willing to negotiate after a bad inspection.

Home Inspection Prices

Finding a Home Inspector

You’re counting on a home inspector to confirm that the property is a good investment (or not). With a purchase as large as a new home, choosing the right inspector is extremely important. Here are some tips:

  • Never choose a home inspector on price alone. Choose the BEST inspector. Consider the inspector’s experience and reputation. Paying an extra $50 for an honest, knowledgeable inspector, as opposed to someone who doesn’t have the best reputation, is a no-brainer.
  • Sometimes the seller has already hired a home inspector, but don’t rely on this report. That inspector is working for the seller, not you. Most inspectors are honest, but you’re still better off with an independent opinion.
  • Don’t feel like you have to go with the inspector recommended by your real estate agent. Your agent does know the industry and has experience working with many home inspectors, but he or she also wants to see the deal close without a snag. As with home inspectors, the vast majority of real estate agents are honest, but an independent opinion doesn’t hurt.
  • Ask friends and relatives to recommend a home inspector they trust. If you strike out there, try consumer organizations like Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau to find reputable inspectors in your area.

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