Make the Most of Your Home Inspection

Katie DuncanOctober 28, 2022


Cartoon Inspector gadget

In the height of the hot housing market of 2021 and 2022, home buyers were doing anything to get their offers accepted— including waiving their inspection contingency.

In the real estate world, an inspection contingency is a provision in the sales contract that allows a buyer to back out or renegotiate the contract based on the findings of the home inspection. While waiving this contingency can make your offer more appealing to a seller, it can be a costly move for buyers. In fact, it’s almost always in the buyer’s best interest to obtain a home inspection.

We’re here to talk about the benefits of a home inspection and discuss ways that you can get the most out of the experience. The inspection isn’t perfect or even comprehensive, but it does allow homebuyers to back out of the contract without penalty if a home inspection reveals any issues.

Why Buyers Should Consider a Home Inspection

On the fence about whether or not you even need an inspection? Here are five reasons why buyers should strongly consider getting a home inspection before purchasing a home.

1. A home inspection lets you know exactly what you’re buying.

A house may appear to be safe, sound, and purely functional, but you never know what is lurking just beneath the surface. An inspector is a trained professional who can pinpoint problems that an ordinary person wouldn’t notice.

An inspector will look at:

  • Foundation
  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Attics
  • Doors
  • Decks
  • Electrical system
  • HVAC system
  • Plumbing

According to the National Association of Home Inspectors, there are nearly 1,600 different items for inspectors to look at during their walkthrough.

You’d be surprised what an inspector can reveal that buyers often miss— mold, faulty wiring, illegal additions, sinking foundations, and pest infestations, just to name a few common finds. Typically, it’s not a matter of if the issues become larger problems, but when.

A quick note here: a home inspection is not designed or guaranteed to catch any and all problems! They are limited on what and how they can inspect—they can’t do any property damage, they can’t go into places where access isn’t physically possible, and they can’t move any furniture or other objects. An inspector also isn’t likely to comment on specific wear and tear issues unless they pose a bigger problem, and they are not going to speculate on how soon something will need to be repaired.

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2. You may get a better deal on your home or negotiate who pays for repairs.

If your inspection reveals issues with the house that aren’t a dealbreaker, you can still use the findings to renegotiate the sales contract. You might request that the seller pay for necessary repairs or even lower your offer price altogether.

3. A specialized inspector can spot unsafe conditions and safety concerns.

Unfortunately, there can be many hidden dangers present in a home. While an average home inspector won’t test for specific concerns, a specialized inspector can.

If you’re looking to test for things like asbestos, high levels of carbon monoxide, radon gas, and lead-based paint, you will need to hire an inspector that specifically offers these tests and services. If you decide to buy the home after the inspection results, you’ll know to focus on these issues before making any cosmetic changes.

4. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about your future home.

An inspection gives you a chance to learn the ins and outs of your home. Use it to ask questions and inspect the home yourself. Through the process, make notes of maintenance you should do, projects you want to complete, and what you may need when you first move in.

How to Get the Most of Your Inspection

While getting an inspection is a big step in and of itself, there are things you can do to get even more value out of the process.

1. Use the inspector’s report to negotiate repairs that should be made.

We’ve already touched on this, but it’s an important point worth mentioning again.

You may have decided that you want to purchase the house, no matter what the inspection reveals. Even if this is the case, don’t just take the inspection report and tuck it away, never to be seen again. Instead, use it to your advantage and negotiate your sales contract. You may be able to get the seller to cover most or some of the repairs.

Your real estate agent will be a valuable resource in helping you and the seller make a fair agreement.

2. Take time to look at the home yourself.

While the inspector is doing their own checks, it’s a good idea for you to walk around and make your own assessments. An inspector will be looking at safety and function, but you can take notes on style, wear and tear, and the age of different aspects of the home.

Items to inspect yourself include:

  • Quality of tile work
  • Condition of carpet and other flooring
  • Newness of appliances
  • Age of fixtures
  • Decor and aesthetic style
  • Things that need to be replaced upon moving in, like light bulbs, door locks, etc.

While these smaller issues may not be a deal breaker, they can inform you of work that should be done before you move in. For example, if the garage floor is cracked and stained, refinishing and sealing the surface would be a lot easier to do before you move things in.

The Bottom Line

Your home inspection is an opportunity to discover what you’re really buying. The inspection might save you from headaches later on and prevent you from unknowingly purchasing a house with hidden problems. If you’re concerned about mold, asbestos, or other specific issues—hire a specialized inspector who offers these services. Always think twice before waiving your inspection contingency, because you may just be missing out on some great homeowner benefits!

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Katie Duncan

Katie Duncan is a financial writer based in Austin, Texas. Her articles include financial advice for freelancers, homebuyers, and more. When she’s not writing, Katie loves traveling and exploring the outdoors with her friends and her dog, Poe.