6 Popular Myths About Home Inspections

1. I’m getting an appraisal so I don’t need a home inspection.

The appraisal is performed for the benefit of your mortgage lender to protect their interest. A pre-purchase home inspection is performed for YOUR benefit to protect your interest as a homebuyer. An appraiser may find some defects and will often recommend specific repairs or updates, but the primary purpose of the appraisal is to determine the value of the home.

A home inspector will inspect the home from roof to foundation and everywhere in between, and report on the conditions of structural and mechanical systems. How many years until the roof needs replacement? Is the foundation solid? Where are potential sites for water intrusion? These are questions your appraiser would not normally address.

The appraisal is normally a mandatory out-of-pocket cost for homebuyers, while the inspection is optional. You may wonder if it is worthwhile to spend money on a home inspection, when you know that you still have to pay for the appraisal. Your home is a significant investment. Skipping the home inspection may save a few bucks today, but could cost you thousands later on.

2. The seller has to fix everything the home inspector found.

The inspection report is NOT a fix-it list for the home seller. In fact, with a few exceptions for municipal code compliance, the seller is not required to make *any* repairs to the home. That said, if the inspection turns up significant defects, it is a good idea to talk to your Realtor to figure out what, if anything, the seller is willing to fix or contribute towards repairs.

If the seller is agreeable, it is normally in your best interest to get an estimate for a repair and ask the seller to pay towards that or lower the selling price, rather than having the seller fix it themselves. You want to be sure the repairs are done by a licensed professional, not the seller’s cousin “Handy Andy.” Lastly, remember that a home’s purchase price is just the beginning. You will need to budget for regular maintenance and occasional repairs in order to keep your home in good shape.

3. I can just get Uncle Bob to look at the house for me, he has remodeled houses for years.

I’m sure Uncle Bob, or your friend or cousin with decades of construction experience is a great guy who knows plenty about homes. I absolutely agree that you should bring him along to your second showing, where you decide if you might like to put in an offer on your chosen home. He could be able to give you a good idea of the condition of the home and maybe even spot a major defect.

However, a 20 minute look around is NOT a home inspection. The Realtors are not likely to allow Uncle Bob to poke around for 2 hours or more without a license or insurance. If you are able to renegotiate your purchase contract, can you imagine coming to the table with,”my Uncle Bob says the roof needs to be replaced… ?” You need a qualified, licensed and insured home inspector and a professionally written inspection report.

4. New homes don’t need an inspection.

It is true that building codes have become more stringent in recent years and that they are often designed with safety in mind. However, the municipal code inspector who issues a certificate of occupancy is rarely spending a couple of hours closely inspecting the home.

Many builders do not allow inspections during the building process due to liability issues. That does not mean that the home cannot be inspected after you move in. It is common for many new homes to be sold with a 1-year warranty. Make use of your warranty by having the home inspected during the first year. The most popular time to do a home warranty inspection is in the 11th month.

5. Homes sold “as-is” don’t need an inspection.

How do you know what “as-is” includes without a home inspection? The seller must disclose known defects, but what about defects that are undiscovered?

You may not be able to renegotiate the price of an “as-is” home based on the inspection report, but remember that is not the purpose of a home inspection. The inspection will give you a more complete picture of the conditions of your chosen home, beyond the sellers disclosure. A home is a significant purchase, and the home inspection is an important tool to help you determine if you are making a sound investment.

6. A home can pass or fail an inspection.

A home inspection is an unbiased assessment of the visible conditions of the home. Under no circumstances should an inspector offer their opinion on whether or not you should purchase the home. To do so is a severe breach of ethics.

Many homebuyers have not considered this, so a common question posed to the home inspector might be “Would you buy this home?” My honest advice is this: you can change everything about a home except it’s location. You need to figure out how much you are willing to spend on updates, what defects you are willing to live with, and whether the home you have chosen fits your criteria. Hopefully, the inspection will be a useful tool in making this decision.