Do You Really Need A Home Inspection For Your DC Condo?

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Do You Really Need A Home Inspection For Your Washington, DC Condo?

Yes!  Absolutely!

When you buy a condo, it seems a lot simpler than buying a house.  But in many ways, it isn't.

Both are a complicated set of systems and appliances in a structure that is better if it is sound. 

With a house, getting an inspection is a no-brainer.  And you know what?  It's a no-brainer with a condo, too.  Sure, the condo association is the one to maintain the structure and the common elements, but you are a part of that condo association.  You need to know what you're getting into.

The inspector can look over the unit itself, checking the appliances, the heating and air conditioning unit, the wiring and plumbing, and tell you all kinds of stuff you need to know about the building itself. 

He'll look at the masonry and the roof.  If there is a boiler room in the basement, he'll check that out. 

Your contract to buy your new place will include an opportunity receive and review the building's "resale package", with information about the budget, among other things.  If the inspector finds, say a roof that will need replacement in the near future, that may not be a bad thing if there is money in the reserve funds to fix it?  If the boiler is dying of old age, can the pay for the replacement without passing the hat in the form of a big special assessment?

The home inspection is a very important introduction to your new place.  You'll not only learn whether or not the appliances all work, but what to do when one won't start because a breaker switch is flipped.  If the toilet starts running and looks like it's going to overflow, where is the water cut off valve that will avoid a flood in  your downstairs neighbor's apartment?

Buying a condo, especially if it's your first place, is a major life milestone.  And your home inspector is an important part of the team to help you make it happen.


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Eric Reid
Renaissance Realty Group of Keller Williams Atlanta Partners - Lawrenceville, GA

So very well said so many buyer try and short cut and save money only to be BURNED

Aug 20, 2009 02:58 PM #1
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co. - Frisco, TX
Real Estate Agents

I agree with you. Condo or not, it's important to understand the property condition - even if it is taken care of by the HOA.

Aug 20, 2009 02:59 PM #2
Julianna Hind
eXp Realty - Tacoma, WA
REALTOR, 206-679-4768, Tacoma Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, WA

So important. A buyer needs to know if there may be a future structural update that may be required that owners could be assessed for. I recently had a client in Seattle who was facing the need to replace much of the windows in her Queen Anne Condo.

Aug 20, 2009 03:02 PM #3
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Patricia, I agree with Eric "well said"!

In our area I don't sell many condos but when I do I absolutely agree that the buyer needs a home inspection. 

Aug 20, 2009 03:03 PM #4
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

You are so right. All the due dilligence with any improvement including inspection of anything that's not intended to be a teardown or rehab.

Condos especially! Because your neighbor's problem could also be yours and it will take an inspector to be able to tell!


Aug 20, 2009 03:28 PM #5
Bill C. Merrell
Merrell Institute ~ Appraisal Education Network - Bohemia, NY
Ph.D. - Merrell Institue

I agree. A home inspection is a necessity in todays market

Condos may not include exterior walls, and common areas, but it is reasonable to conclude that condos should be inspected as well

All the best.

Keep on blogging.

Bill Merrell

Aug 20, 2009 03:30 PM #6
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


You must have psychic energy, I just booked a condo inspection after you wrote this.

Aug 20, 2009 03:42 PM #7
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Pat...  not only would important to do a home inspection on a condo as you stated, but also to verify that there are enough funds available in the condo association's account for such repairs... 

jeff belonger

Aug 20, 2009 04:02 PM #8
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices


I am a bit surprised with the comments. May be it is so different in the rest of the world, but here the home inspector would not be allowed to the roof or to any other places except for the unit, where they really do not do much. They will be able to check the AC and tell you if the unit works properly, and they can pick small things, which, though important, are still very different from the scope of home inspection.

The problems with structure will not be revealed by inspectors, especially in the high-rise buildings. They are not structural engineers, and this is way beyond their scope.

You can get a better idea by reading the minutes of the Board meetings, especially if you can get several of them. In our area the minutes and the budget are supposed to be provided to Buyer.

Aug 20, 2009 04:52 PM #9
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Pat, all good points.  A condo inspection has a lot of considerations that a house does not have and in some ways can cost you money even when nothing in particular is found inside the unit itself.  A good inspector will give you a heads up on the kinds of issues that might result in future assessments.

Aug 20, 2009 04:54 PM #10
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Pat... A home inspection is a critical part of the home buying prcess... regardless of whether it's a condo or single family home.

Aug 20, 2009 05:22 PM #11
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

I certainly have had issues uncovered with a condo inspection. Would never recommend to skip this step. Could lead to disaster for sure.

Aug 20, 2009 11:07 PM #12
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Pat:  When I bought my condo the home inspector just looked over the unit itself.  But it certainly seems like a good idea to have them look at the boiler room, etc.

Aug 21, 2009 02:04 AM #13
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Pat - sage advices for any buyer. ONe can just as easily uncover problems in a condo inspection as in a detached home, and depedning on the HOA it can be more complicated to get things taken care of. Some of the HOAs ought to be tarred and feathered for how they manage their properties. Unfortunately there are some things the inspectors cannot do in condo inspections so there are some enhanced risks for the buyers.


Aug 21, 2009 03:31 AM #14
Don Rogers
Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield - O'Fallon, MO
Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes

When buying a home or condo I think that it is extremely important to have a home inspection and let the buyers know why it is.  There are too many risks involved.

Aug 21, 2009 04:55 AM #15
Michael Bergin
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - ABR - SRES - Alexandria, VA
Northern Virginia Real Estate

Pat -

I just recently had clients withdraw an offer on a condo because the home inspection found structural damage in the bathroom.  Two days later we put in an offer on another condo, aced the inspection and are on our way to closing.  Think they thanked me for pushing the inspection?  You bet!


Aug 21, 2009 02:06 PM #16
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Patricia Kennedy

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