Follow the advice below to make sure you schedule your home inspection correctly and get the most out of it.
1. Schedule a home inspection to take place as early on in the buying process as you can so that you leave yourself plenty of time to negotiate. Right after your offer is accepted is ideal. Keep in mind that a purchase price is not set in stone until closing—if you find a problem during the home inspection it is perfectly within your rights to go back to the drawing board and propose a new price to the seller.
2. Ask your realtor if they have a recommendation for an inspector. Your realtor is your best bet for insider information on who to hire for your inspection. There’s a high chance that your realtor has worked with some home inspection companies they really like and some that aren’t quite as good, so take advantage of their experience by asking who they think you should go with. Request two or three recommendations so that you can compare and find your best fit.
3. Call up your preferred home inspectors and ask about their availability, process, and price. Just like all other facets of buying a home, it helps to do your research. Call up each home inspector company that you’re considering and find out when they can perform the inspection, how they intend to do it, and how much they charge. On average, you should expect to pay a minimum of $325 for your inspection and completed report, depending on the age and size of the home. Still, be sure to take all factors into account instead of just automatically going with the cheapest option.
4. Schedule a home inspection appointment. You’ll want to be present at the home inspection, so schedule a time that works well for both your inspection company and yourself. There’s no use in rushing an inspection, so it’s important that you leave yourself plenty of time to really examine the property with your inspector—you’ll want between two and three hours to do it right.
During the home inspection
Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions when you’re touring a home with your inspector. They’re there to examine the property, but they’re also there to give you informed answers to your questions about the home and its structure and features. If you see something you think might be an issue or you don’t understand what your home inspector is telling you, speak up! It’s always better to ask too many questions than not enough when you’re making such a large and complicated purchase.
What if you get bad home inspection results?
Just because a property is new construction or looks like it’s in great condition isn’t a guarantee that issues won’t appear on your home inspection report. Don’t freak out if you find that there are problems, but do take action to see if there’s a good solution.
Call up your realtor right away to discuss the findings. They should have some good insight for you as to whether it’s still a good idea to move forward with the purchase, and if so, what sorts of seller compromises you should aim for. Sellers are typically just as motivated as buyers for titles to exchange hands, so they’re often willing to make concessions based on home inspection reports. That could mean scheduling and pay for the repairs themselves, or reducing the purchase price to account for the repair cost. Sometimes these compromises require you, the buyer, to waive liability, meaning you can’t sue later on if additional problems arise. When it comes to negotiating, focus on big repairs, not small cosmetic issues that you can easily fix on your own.
Sometimes, the findings of a home inspection may warrant walking away from a purchase, especially if the seller is unwilling to budge on negotiations. If that’s the case, consider it an asset that you avoided having to pay for or deal with serious repairs and continue your home search elsewhere.
Don’t waive your home inspection
Unlike a home appraisal, many mortgage lenders do not require a mandatory home inspection prior to releasing funding for your loan. That being said, it’s still not a good idea to opt-out. A home inspection provides you with key information that you might otherwise not find out about until it’s too late, and the $300 or so it costs to have one is usually going to be less than any repair costs you might face later on. The only time when it might make sense to waive a home inspection is if you or someone close to you has experience in construction, though even then it never hurts to have an objective eye on a property.