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Things to know before a home inspection

Get answers to common questions about the home inspection process.

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Buying and selling a home can be full of ups and downs, stresses and rewards — including the inspection. Here are answers to common questions about the home inspection process so you know what to expect:

Do I have to get a home inspection?

While home inspections are typically recommended, as a seller, you’re generally not required to get an inspection before a sale, and as a buyer you may not be either, unless there’s an inspection contingency in the purchase contract. A home inspection is different from a home appraisal, which is almost always required.

Why wouldn’t I get an inspection?

If the home you put an offer on is in high demand, either because of its location or condition, forgoing an inspection may be one less constraint on the sale.

Why should I schedule one?

Inspections are a chance for the opinion of an outside, unbiased professional to provide insight on the condition of your home. If, as a buyer, you forgo an inspection, any problems that happen after the sale are generally your responsibility. The terms of a mortgage may also require you to have an inspection.

Who pays for the inspection?

The buyer pays, unless a different arrangement is made. The buyer is also responsible for finding and scheduling an inspector. While the cost of a home inspection varies, a typical range is $300-$500.

Can I be present for the inspection?

As a buyer, you should be. It’s also your chance to dig a little deeper into the home — to open the electrical panel, take note of anything that worries you and ask questions of the inspector, too.

What happens after the inspection?

The inspector will prepare a report indicating any items of concern. A buyer may use that report to negotiate with the seller over specific repairs to be done before the sale is finalized, to request compensation for things that will need to be fixed in the near future, or to void the sale because of extreme issues.

Does a clean report guarantee that nothing’s wrong with the home?

No. The inspector does take a close look at the inside and outside of the home, including the electrical systems, foundation, windows and doors, basement, and more. But an inspector can’t report on the condition inside the walls and cannot guarantee things such as the condition of the roof.

My inspection report is long. Is that worrisome?

Not necessarily. Most homes have a list of regular maintenance items, and it’s an inspector’s job to point them all out. Many points may not be pressing but simply a reminder of to-dos that may need to happen in the future.

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