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Should you skip a Home Inspection? The Risks Involved and the Options Available

As scales tip towards a sellers market many buyers and agents are often left weighing skipping the home inspection all together. When a seller is faced with choosing between twenty plus offers, it can be an attractive exemption in the offer. The Star Tribune recently published an article covering the tough choice many home buyers are facing. Waiving the right to a home inspection also waives the right to renegotiate or back out of an offer. Combine this with the fact that many houses are selling for well over the listed price. Buyers are going all in for their chance at a home in a competitive market, and make no mistake it is a gamble.

Knowing the Risks

The biggest risk to skipping a home inspection is that you’re going in blind. Every house has it’s problems. Don’t let the fresh coat of paint in the living room and the new cabinets in the kitchen detract from the outdated furnace or water damage in the basement. The house may look like it’s in great shape during the showing, but may hide very serious underlying issues. Home inspectors inspect hundreds of items over the course of two to three hours. And the findings are delivered in a written report that provides the “big” picture. There’s simply no way to determine a home’s overall condition during a 45 to 60 minute showing, especially one limited to verbal remarks and no examination of systems and components. Inspecting a home during a showing would be like judging the size of an iceberg by what you see on the surface.

Specifically you risk not knowing about unknown safety hazards, the need for expensive repairs or replacements, and the opportunity to craft a maintenance plan for the home.  

When you waive the inspection, you waive the contingency period as well. This period can be used to renegotiate or as an opportunity for the buyer to back out of the deal whether or not it was due to what was found during the inspection or otherwise.

Not knowing the current condition of the home and it’s major systems also severely limits your ability to plan for the future. The inspection report also helps new homeowners get ahead of needed repairs and maintenance.

The home inspection covers hundreds of items including the roof and exterior, plumbing, heating, electrical, attic, windows, basement, major appliances, and many more. Even with all that, think of the home inspection as your annual physical. The point is to check up on all the major systems of the home and also look for potential problems that may need further investigation from a specialist. Waiving the inspection not only waives what’s covered in the inspection, but also waives the chance to get any other potential problems with the home looked at.

Options to Traditional Buyer’s Inspection

In a competitive market many buyers may feel forced to waive the inspection during the buying process to remain competitive. While there’s room to be creative with your offer such as increasing the earnest money and making it non refundable after an inspection, being flexible about the closing date, or even paying in cash, some buyers will still choose to waive the inspection. So let’s explore what two other options for a home inspection are in addition to the traditional buyer’s inspection.  

Post-Purchase Home Inspection

A post purchase home inspection is performed after closing. While it may not give the opportunity to renegotiate or back out of the deal, it provides you with peace of mind about the home’s overall condition and helps you plan and budget for future repairs and maintenance. In other words, knowing the big picture is way better than working without a net. The home inspection report helps determine current concerns with the house and possible issues that may arise. Additionally, if any other potential problems are identified that need further inspection from a specialist such as a plumber or electrician, you will be made aware. 

Pre-Listing Home Inspection

A pre-listing home inspection is ordered by the sellers to give them a good understanding of the home’s condition and help them get ahead of the curve. They may choose to share the report with prospective buyers. Or they may use the information to help establish a sales price. Some sellers choose to repair or replace certain items that might show up on a buyer’s home inspection. This gives time for the seller to make any preemptive repairs.

The Bottom Line

Our advice is to never ever skip the inspection. Scheduling a home inspection after closing will still make you aware of the home’s safety and maintenance issues. And that empowers you to plan for the future.