Have you ever heard the phrase caveat emptor? It’s a Latin phrase that means essentially, “Let the buyer beware.” When you spend money on anything this is a smart approach, but it takes on a much larger meaning when you consider the current real estate market. You’re probably aware of the severe shortage of available homes in comparison to the number of people wanting to buy. Sellers likely have multiple offers on their home, some offers being thousands of dollars above the asking price. Many home buyers are skipping the home inspection, and waiving their inspection contingency, in order to clinch the deal on the house that they want. While this tactic may get you the house, it’s also likely to get you much more than you bargained for, and not in a good way. Here are six reasons that it’s an incredibly bad idea to skip a home inspection when buying a home:
Reason #1- Safety hazards and threats to your family’s health: Getting into a new house without the benefit of a home inspection can open you and your family up to myriad threats to your health and safety. One threat that is a real concern in Central PA is radon. Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that is the second highest cause of lung cancer. When radon gets into a home through small openings in the foundation, it concentrates in the home and can reach dangerous levels. The EPA places all counties in Central PA in Zone 1, the highest level of concern. For this reason, the EPA and the PA Department of Environmental Protection both strongly advise home buyers to have the home tested for radon. Most home inspectors are able to test for radon, and get the results in about 48-60 hours.
Heating systems often put out combustion by-products, one of which can be carbon monoxide. You can’t smell carbon monoxide, but it can be fatal. Small gas leaks can be undetectable as well. Home inspectors often use advanced equipment that is able to detect carbon monoxide and gas in the home.
Mold can often remain unseen, but is a serious threat to health nonetheless. Mold can cause breathing problems, especially in the very young and in people with respiratory issues. Many home inspectors are able to test the air in the home for mold.
Poor construction or unapproved additions to a house can also be a threat to your safety. Improperly installed or modified electrical wiring is very commonly discovered during home inspections. While peeling paint or cracked stairs are an annoyance, poorly installed electrical service can kill you. Inspectors can’t see all the wiring inside the walls, but most electrical defects are able to be seen and reported on.
Poorly installed decks are also a major threat to life and limb. Skipping your home inspection opens you, your family and your guests up to these threats and more.
Reason #2- Expensive repairs could be waiting: The house you want may be magazine-worthy beautiful, but expensive repairs could be hiding. Be careful in judging a book by its cover. For example, termites and other wood-destroying insects and fungi can cause major structural damage over time. Not only is a compromised house structure dangerous, it is downright expensive to fix. Most home inspectors are able to inspect for these destructive organisms.
In addition to wood-destroying organisms, structural problems can happen when people unwisely modify their attic structure for storage space, or when foundation problems make the entire home unstable. A qualified home inspector is able to identify these problems, keeping you from making a dangerous and expensive decision.
Roofs that leak don’t always leak to the inside living areas of the house, and aren’t always visible. An older roof that is near the end of its lifespan isn’t always apparent to the untrained eye. The worst case scenario is needing to replace the entire roof. Talk about an expensive mistake! A qualified home inspector will be able to see beyond the surface, and knows where to find these hidden money pits.
Reason #3- Insight on future repair expenses: Qualified home inspectors are highly trained, and are responsible for knowing a huge amount of information about a house. Skipping your inspection means that you won’t know the age or remaining lifespan of your roof, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, water heater, and other expensive residential systems.
Reason #4- Inspections may be required to close: Many times, a mortgage bank or insurance company may require some type of inspection for them to finance or insure a property. They’re risking a lot of money, and are going to protect their investment. You should consider doing the same by hiring a qualified home inspector.
Reason #5- Advice on maintenance: Many home inspectors will give a buyer recommendations on how to deal with the repairs needed, and can also advise you how to do ongoing maintenance that any house needs. Skipping the inspection means that you lose some valuable insight that could well save you a lot of money in the future.
Reason #6- Protecting your investment & ROI: Having a home inspection can prevent you from being surprised in an unpleasant way. Insisting on having one could well be a deal breaker in this insane market, but what happens when the market regains some sanity and the value of the home you just purchased drops a little, or a lot? Markets are cyclical, and home values will likely experience a correction at some point. While this will make all our homes worth less, the financial hit will be worse if you need to spend thousands or tens of thousands on unexpected repairs.
A home inspection is normally a negotiating tool that buyers can use in coming to an agreement on purchase price. While inspections are currently out of favor because it’s a hot seller’s market, skipping the inspection exposes a buyer to very unfavorable and expensive risks. Even if the inspection doesn’t result in a price negotiation, having one allows you to make an informed decision because you know what you’re getting into. Your real estate agent likely works with a few inspectors and can recommend someone that they trust. If you don’t know or can’t find an inspector, Chestnut Property Inspections is always available to serve you by inspecting your home as if we were going to live in it. Either way, we want to see you protected when making the biggest purchase you will likely ever make. So don’t skip your home inspection!