Buying a home is exciting - and stressful - at the same time! There are so many things that go into buying a home - and making sure that the house you are getting is the right house for you! One of the things I strongly encourage all my buyers to do is to make sure you have a home inspection contingency in your offer - even if you are buying a home as is! But there are lots of myths about just what you should be expecting from your home inspection!
Myth #1 - The real estate appraisal is the same as a home inspection!
Truth - all lenders will require an appraisal of the property you are buying to make sure that the house is really worth the price you are paying (and the value they are lending on). Some appraisal types, such as a VA or FHA or VHDA loan, will require a minimal amount of inspection of certain items (random testing of the faucets to make sure there are no leaks, a quick peek in the crawl space, a quick look at the roof, etc). But it is nowhere near as thorough as licensed & certified inspector will do! So keep in mind that the purpose of a home inspection is to let you know about the condition - while the appraiser is only there to make certain that you are paying what the home is worth!
Myth #2 - The home inspection will let me know everything that can go wrong with the house after closing!
Truth - no inspector has a crystal ball into the future! A home inspector will look at the house, all of it's components & systems and tell you what the condition is at that moment in time! And for some things they may even be able to give you an educated estimate of how long a system can last! But if an inspector tells you the roof has an estimated 5 years left on it, they have no control over anything that may happen after closing that could shorten that life span!
Myth #3 - All inspectors are licensed & certified!
Truth - in Virginia, the requirement that all home inspectors needed to be licensed only came into law in 2017! Prior to that, Virginia had no required licensing law! But many of the good inspectors locally had already gone ahead and gotten licensed by the state, even before it became a law! However, there are still some home inspectors out there who have not gotten licensed, and there are many who have not even gotten the certification from an organization like American Society of Home Inspectors! So, when you are searching for a home inspector, check the DPOR website to make sure they are licensed, and check a site like ASHI to make sure they are certified!
Myth #4 - Seller needs to fix everything that is found on the inspection!
Truth - the seller is not obligated to fix anything that is found in the house! Unless the home is being sold as is where the seller is not going to fix anything found on inspections, and assuming that you have an inspection contingency in your contract, then the things that were found on your inspections will be negotiated between you and the seller! Depending on your contract & the contingency, you will try to get an agreement on inspection repairs and if you cannot reach an agreement, you may be able to terminate your contract! Make sure you understand the inspection contingency that is in your contract!
Myth #5 - New construction homes don't need a home inspection!
Truth - although the new construction homes will have inspections conducted by the county, there is no guarantee that a builder's sub could miss something or could damage something during the building process! I once had a buyer who did a home inspection on a house with a first floor full bath - during the inspection we found out that the drain from the tub on the first floor bath was not properly connected, which meant that any water draining out of the tub would be running down onto the ground in the crawl space, which would have ended up causing problems in the future such as mold! A good builder will welcome a home inspection on their house, and will be willing to correct any defects on the house before you close on it!
Myth #6 - There is no real difference among home inspectors!
Truth - all home inspectors are different - all have different strengths - all have different backgrounds! Many use different reports! I once had a buyer who found a home inspector to use that said he had over 30 years in the home building trades - but it turned out that the majority of that time was spent as a house painter! Another inspector that used to do inspections on a part time basis was a full time radiologist! As one of your team who is going to let you know the condition of the biggest financial purchase you will be making, I think I would prefer an inspector who has a background in something other than house painting or radiology!
Myth #7 - The home inspector is looking out only for the seller or the Realtor!
Truth - I can only speak for myself on home inspections and the inspectors I recommend! My business is built on referrals! If the home inspector I recommend is not competent, or is not completely honest with the buyer, I will not continue to get a high percentage of my business coming from referrals! A home inspector is working for the buyer - not the seller, and not the Realtor! Their business is also built on referrals! When you are looking for a home inspector, get some recommendations from your Realtor, but then speak to the home inspector about what they do, how long they have been in business, can they give you a copy of a typical report, can they give you some recommendations!
Myth #8 - Every inch of the home is inspected!
Truth - a home inspector will not be able to move things and will not do intrusive inspections inside walls! They will, however, look at the components & systems that are part of the house! This includes opening the windows (unless they are painted shut), testing the stove & other appliances to ensure they are properly working, looking at the roof, looking at the crawl space, looking in the attic, looking at the panel box. They will not focus on cosmetic issues, but those issues which affect the habitability or safety of the house!
Myth # 9 - I can't choose my own home inspector!
Truth - again, I can only speak for myself! I will normally provide my buyers with 3 or 4 recommended home inspectors. I ask that the buyer then call and talk directly to the home inspector about what they will be doing for them! I recommend that my buyers also talk to their family or friends who may have recently bought a house for a recommendation of an inspector, if it was someone they liked a lot! And I have even had buyers who will look on sites like Home Advisor to find a home inspector!
Myth #10 - A Home Inspection is a code compliance inspection!
Truth - building codes say how a house should be designed & built & are considered the minimum standard that the builder must adhere to! Making sure that homes are built to the current building code at the time it was built is the responsibility of the county or city inspection departments. They are the people who have the authority to enforce code compliance - not the inspector! If, however, the inspector finds something that he thinks may be a violation of the building code, he will generally bring it to the attention of the buyer, so it can be further researched to see if that is something that the buyer may need to negotiate with the seller!
Myth #11 - A home inspection is primarily a tool to provide negotiating power to the buyer!
Truth - a home inspection is primarily a tool to let the buyer know about the condition of the home they are buying. Using the inspection report allows the buyer to negotiate with the seller on closing costs assistance, repairs to be done by the seller or even a price reduction.
Myth #12 - I am buying a condo, so I don't need a home inspection!
Truth - although most condo & townhome associations will maintain the exterior of the home you are buying, a home inspection should still be done. There may be exterior items that need to be taken care of by the association (ex: loose railings, siding issues, roof issues, balcony issues). You will still want the home inspector to inspect the interior of the unit you are buying to make sure appliances are working properly, there are no plumbing leaks, etc.
Myth #13 - I am getting a warranty with the house, so I don't need a home inspection!
Truth - you may be getting a home warranty, but that will only cover needed repairs on covered items after closing! And if it is a pre-existing condition, the home warranty may not cover that repair. The big one that I see is that someone buys a house in which the home inspection report indicated that there is a problem with the HVAC cooling the house properly - after closing, the buyer calls the home warranty company to have the HVAC system fixed and the warranty company will not cover it because the HVAC was not properly functioning when the warranty was placed in effect!
Myth #14 - A home inspection is expensive!
Truth - a home inspection may cost a few hundred dollars and that may feel like a lot of money, but if you don't do an inspection and the house turns out to have a whole lot of problems that you weren't able to see because you were focused on the nice renovation that the seller did, not doing that home inspection may turn out to be much more costly than the initial few hundred dollars you may have had to pay! I never recommend that any of my buyers forego their home inspection!
Getting a home inspection is one of the most important things you can do when you are buying a house! Don't ever buy a house without doing a home inspection, even if the seller is not going to do any repairs! But also be realistic about what a home inspection does - and doesn't - include!
Thinking of buying a home? Thinking of selling your home? Have a question? Feel free to get in touch with me - I would be happy to help!