Should You Ever Skip Doing a Home Inspection?
Skip the inspection? Why would anyone consider doing that?
There are actually a few valid reasons where home buyers might pass on adding that contingency to their contract. I’ll discuss that later.
But 99.9% of the time I would strongly recommend and urge buyers to perform an inspection on their newly purchased home. Why gamble with such a big purchase? The reasons for performing the inspection are key to owning a home:
- To discover latent issues that the home sellers weren’t aware of and thus could not disclose. A structural fault is an example that could be incredibly expensive to repair. The home sellers might not have noticed any water issues, but a thorough inspection of the roof might show that water has indeed been coming in.
- To give the buyers a better overall understanding of the home’s main systems. If a furnace is working properly then there is no inspection issue. But wouldn’t you want to know that it’s over 20-years old and not the least bit energy efficient?
- Walking through the house with the inspector is an ideal way to learn the inner workings of the home. Inspections take from 2-4 hours generally and it’s a great opportunity for buyers to better understand their new home.
- To confirm that you are not purchasing a home with countless problems or serious issues.
- Peace of mind. Knowing that the electrical grid is properly functioning! Knowing that radon is not leaking into your home! Just a few reasons regarding safety concerns.
- Negotiating repairs. I say this warily because too many buyers assume they can present the seller with a beefy bill with all they want remedied. This type of approach could work in a slow market with lots of inventory but our Northern Illinois contract specifically states:
“The request for repairs shall cover only the major components of the Real Estate, limited to central heating and cooling systems, plumbing, and well system, electrical system, roof, walls, windows, doors, ceilings, floors, appliances, and foundation. A major component shall be deemed to be in operating condition, and therefore not defective . . . if it does not constitute a current threat to health or safety, and performs the function for which it is intended, regardless of age or if it is near or at the end of its useful life. Minor repairs, routine maintenance items, and painting, decorating, or other items of a cosmetic nature, no matter the cost to remedy same, do not constitute defects, and are not a part of this contingency and shall not be a basis for the Buyer to cancel this Contract. A request by Buyer for credits or repairs in violation of the terms of this subparagraph shall allow Seller to declare this Contract terminated and direct the return of Buyer’s Earnest Money.”
A home inspection is thus an integral part of the home buying process. Depending on where you live and the size of the home, costs can vary widely. I’ve had small condos inspected for $150,000, large homes for $1200-$1500, and larger homes for $2500. The average is around $750.
Please don't use your relatives or friends because of cost. Of course, you could do that. But sellers won't seriously consider any requests or repairs you have unless you hire a licensed professional inspector.
Now, back to the question of why certain buyers would bypass the inspection:
- Buyers of tear-down properties who are builders might do a cursory examination but don’t require a full-out inspection.
- Buyers in a hot market who are facing multiple offer situations. In these cases, buyers are encouraged to have as “clean” a contract as possible - in other words, the fewer the contingencies, the better. If financing is optional, they might present a cash offer. If not, they could decide to make their offer more attractive by not including the inspection contingency.
It’s important to understand that waiving the contingency does not mean waiving the inspection itself. Your intention is to perform the inspection but waive any requests for repairs.
Should you ever skip doing a home inspection? Know what you’re getting into and avoid getting burned- so I’d say NO, don’t pass on it. Even in a multiple offer situation it’s best to err on the side of safety and that ever elusive peace of mind.
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Margaret Goss is a full-time real estate broker since 1998 working in the North Shore communities of Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Northfield, Glenview, and Evanston.
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Disclaimer: all information in this post is relevant to the North Shore area of Chicago, IL. Please check with your local real estate agent or board for contract information in your area.