The home inspection process: Should you skip it?

People often confuse the home appraisal with the home inspection. 

Appraisals are estimates of a home’s value — and they’re typically required before you can close on your mortgage loan. Inspections, on the other hand, are designed to assess the condition of the home, and they’re 100% optional for the buyer. 

Does that mean you should skip one and save the $300 to $700 one will cost you?

While it can certainly be tempting — especially with the high costs most buyers already face — it’s usually a grave mistake (and sometimes a costly one, too).

Are you considering skipping the home inspection? Here are three reasons you’ll want to think again.

1. There could be safety hazards.

Home inspectors evaluate a property inside and out — its structure, its systems, its roof, and all its interior and exterior features. They’ll note mold in the basement, asbestos in the attic, lead paint on the walls, or faulty electrical wiring that could pose major safety hazards for you and your family later on. They’ll also take note of things that are security issues — things like faulty locks, broken garage doors or fencing, and other problems. 

The bottom line: Without an inspection, you might move into a home unaware of issues that could harm your health or threaten your physical safety. 

2. You could end up with costly repairs.

Inspectors also bring your attention to anything that needs fixing in the home — things like holes in the roof, malfunctioning appliances or plumbing, or even signs of foundation issues. You can then use their report to renegotiate with the sellers — asking them to make the repairs themselves or reduce the sales price to account for the added repair costs.

The bottom line: Forgoing an inspection means you’ll discover these repairs (and pay for them) later on, out of your own pocket. It also might mean paying too much for the home altogether.

3. You might be making a poor investment of your cash.

At the end of the day, a home isn’t just somewhere you live — it’s an investment. And if you want to ensure that investment is a good one (meaning it gains value and delivers returns later on), then you need to know all you can about the home before buying in. 

How long will its current roof last? Are its plumbing and electrical systems up to date? Were those recent renovations done up to local code? Understanding the state of the home — as well as when things may need to be replaced or repaired — is critical if you want to accurately assess its costs, as well as its future value.

The bottom line: You can’t make a good investment uninformed. A home inspection ensures you have the full picture regarding a property’s costs and value.

Think before you skip

Skipping the home inspection can save you a few hundred dollars, and it might even help you stand out in a competitive market. But before you opt-out, talk to a local real estate agent first. They can gather information about the property and local housing market and help you make the best decision for your homebuying goals. 

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