Posted in: Buying a home

Why you should get a home inspection before buying a home

Buyers need home inspection

Key insights

  • Before buying a home, it’s important to get a home inspection that can help identify any potential damages or defects.
  • Your home inspector should be thorough and neutral, so be sure to interview or check references before hiring a home inspector.
  • A long inspection report doesn’t necessarily mean you should ditch the sale. By reading the inspection report carefully, you can determine if you should proceed with your home purchase.

If you buy a home without having it inspected by a professional, you may end up owning a property with a lot of necessary repairs. While small issues may not be a reason to nix the home sale, major defects can affect your decision to buy or can help you make a more reasonable offer.

To ensure you don’t overpay for a home or buy one that has insurmountable projects and repairs, follow these home inspection insights.

How to hire the right inspector

When hiring an inspector, make sure you find one who is reputable and experienced. Your REALTOR® can recommend someone they trust, but it’s also smart to interview potential inspectors.

Before hiring, be sure to ask specific questions about their work and experience and review sample home inspection reports they provide to ensure they are thorough. You may also want to ask for past client references.

18 specific questions to ask a home inspector before hiring them.

What to expect and what to avoid during the inspection

A normal inspection typically lasts between two to three hours, and since you're paying for them to visit, be sure to ask any questions you may have regarding common maintenance or issues. If you can’t be there for the entire inspection, be sure to be home for the very end so you can get a high-level report of their initial findings.

The inspector will review a property's key exterior components, including the house's roof, garage and foundation. In doing so, they are looking for defects and failures — missing shingles or cracks in gutters could result in roof damage, while an unsettled or shifting foundation could mean an expensive repair is in your future.

Inside, the inspector will check important systems that are costly to repair and replace. If your soon-to-be home has leaks or problems with water pressure, it likely has something to do with the plumbing. Wiring can also be expensive to fix if installed incorrectly. The inspector will also look for issues regarding fire safety and ventilation and test appliances throughout the home.

Making sense of the inspection findings

After the inspection is complete, you’ll receive a detailed home inspection report that can be between 20-50 pages total.

A longer report doesn’t necessarily mean the house you’ve selected is a money pit; it could be an indicator of a thorough inspector who has identified many smaller issues that you can use as leverage for your negotiation.

Review the report in full with your Realtor and determine how to proceed. If the inspection has identified many issues, you may decide that the home has too many issues to fix or you can ask for a price reduction as compensation for future fixes is common.

Remember, you also have the option to walk away from the property if the seller is unwilling to drop their price or pay for repairs.

Your inspector is a neutral partner

In addition to their inspection report, some inspectors may offer to share an estimated cost of necessary repairs. This can be extraordinarily helpful as you make your home purchase decision — after all, you don’t know how much a few broken roof tiles will cost.

Keep in mind, however, that you want to avoid working with an inspector who offers to do the work themselves or who recommend contractors you should use.

Think of an inspector like an impartial mediator. They should have no stake in your home purchase or in the ensuing repairs you may take on as a result of their work.

Need someone to help you every step of the way?

Edina Realty Realtors are proven buyer advocates. Whether you’re ready to put in an offer and request an inspection or need finding the right neighborhood for your family, we have an agent who can help.

Reach out today to get matched with a dedicated, insightful local Realtor.

For more tips on how to buy a home, follow #BuyerInsights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Join over {{'43232' | number}} subscribers

Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings