Home Inspections: Are they worth the cost?

  • May 14, 2015

After months of searching for a new home you’ve finally found the right house. At least you hope it’s the right house. It’s not exactly new. It’s younger than you, but older than your car. It has the four bedrooms and two bathrooms you need. The kitchen is a little dated and it’s clearly going to need new appliances within the next five years. It’s in the perfect neighborhood, near all things convenient. The lawn isn’t too large or too small. There’s an adequate garage and even a swimming pool in the backyard. But in reality, you’re buying a “used” house.

When buying a used car, most people wonder what’s wrong with it. Home buyers need to consider the same question. What’s wrong with this house? Find out why the sellers are leaving. You may get a truthful answer or at least some insight into what type of people the sellers were – and how they did or did not maintain the home while they lived there. You may learn that the seller is a building contractor and was able to maintain the home diligently. Or you may learn that the house was used as a rental and the sellers let a lot of the home maintenance slide.

Gather as much information about the home as you can. If you loved the house on the first visit, schedule a second visit before making that formal offer. On the second visit you can do your own in-depth inspection. Look closely at the little things. Really look. There may be some obvious minor defects. There may even be major (material) defects that you didn’t notice before. Do you still love the house enough to make an offer?

What about material defects that you can’t see? Can you tell by looking at the roof that it’s in great condition? What about the plumbing? The electrical wiring? Do you know how to spot structural damage? There may be hazards around the home that aren’t obvious to the general public, but would be to a professional home inspector.

Discuss the home inspection process with your Realtor. Make sure you understand the Standards of Practice adopted by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). Your Realtor® will be knowledgeable about the home inspection process and will consult with you about your options. Your agent may be familiar with several inspectors and will likely recommend an inspector or two upon your request.

Ask your agent what you can expect during the inspection and what the range in price will be. The inspection is paid for by the buyer, unless the seller has had a pre-sale home inspection performed. If this is the case, you can still opt to have your own inspection performed at your expense. Consult with your agent about these options.

Find an inspector who is licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission and is associated with a professional inspection organization such as the Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors or the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s okay to ask for references, too.

Remember, a good inspector isn’t necessarily one who finds nothing wrong with the home. The good inspector will find material defects that could present a hazard causing potential injury to you or your family. An exceptional inspector is one who communicates the hazards to you without shocking and scaring you away from the home. The exceptional inspector should give you a summary of “Must Be Done” and “Should Be Done” home maintenance items.

Once you review the inspector’s report you’ll need to decide whether or not you still love the house. Discuss the report with your agent. This is the time to revisit your offer if there are material defects. You could also negotiate with the seller to have the items fixed before closing. The period of time following the inspection is the most critical. This is why it’s so important to have the inspection done. You want to make an informed decision when purchasing a home.

Paying for an inspection is a calculated risk. You pay a few hundred dollars for the inspection to protect you from the thousands you might have to spend on what might be a huge money-pit. The inspection money is money well spent. Remember, as always, to discuss this important issue with your agent.


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