What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a detailed assessment of a property's condition conducted by a licensed professional. While typically not required, it's a standard step in the home-buying process. Home inspectors review the condition of an entire structure, including the foundation, roof, walls, floors, ceilings, and plumbing and electrical systems, to identify any potential defects or deferred maintenance.

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How do home inspections work?

A licensed home inspector inspects a home on behalf of a prospective buyer. As a buyer, a home inspection is your chance to ensure that the property is safe and sound and has no significant defects that you'll have to pay to repair later. The purpose of a home inspection is to give prospective buyers (and their lenders) an objective evaluation of the property and identify existing or potential issues that need attention.

When does a home inspection typically happen?

The home inspection occurs after the seller accepts the offer but before the contract is final. There is often a home inspection contingency period, which typically lasts for a certain timeframe, such as between ten days and two weeks. During this period, the buyer can get the home inspected to help inform their decision about whether to go ahead with the purchase.

Are home inspections required?

Home inspections are generally not required, but the National Association of Realtors (NAR) highly recommends them. In a hot real estate market, buyers can be tempted to waive the home inspection contingency, thinking it will make their offer more appealing. Results from the 2022 REALTORS confidence index survey show that 24% of buyers waived the inspection contingency, up from 19% from the previous year. However, the home inspector's report is a source of valuable information about the inner workings of the house, and skipping a home inspection could cost you in the future.

What is the importance of an inspection?

A home inspection can help you avoid buying a home with significant repairs, structural or systems problems, or safety hazards. Many deal-breaking issues that a home inspection might reveal are not ones you can detect alone. If you allow your excitement about a particular house to cloud your judgment and forego a home inspection, you may regret it later when costly repairs add up. Those repairs could have been caught by a home inspection and fixed by the seller before completing the sale.

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