Amid a lack of inventory and fierce bidding wars, prospective homebuyers are resorting to drastic (and often ill-advised) measures to get a leg up in this red-hot housing market. Some are paying exclusively in cash or offering thousands of dollars above the asking price, while others are choosing to forego a home inspection to sweeten the deal for the seller. "Waiving an inspection means less hassle for the seller, which may result in increased consideration for a buyer's offer on a home," says Alison Malkin, a RE/MAX real estate agent based in Connecticut.
During the pandemic-fueled housing boom, more than 13% of buyers have waived the inspection contingency, which allows buyers to request repairs or cancel the sale if issues are found, when purchasing their homes, according to data from the real estate brokerage Redfin. Although this tactic might be tempting to expedite the sale and gain favor with the seller, waiving a home inspection is generally never a good idea. We talked to home experts who shared some of the compelling reasons why you should never skip the inspection before buying a home.
1. You could unknowingly inherit costly repairs.
"A home inspection will provide a solid understanding of the current state of a home including the condition of its systems and appliances—and it lets you know if repairs will be needed," says Raj Midha, senior vice president and general manager at American Home Shield, a home warranty company. By foregoing the inspection, you risk letting major issues go undetected. Problems with the home's foundation, roof, plumbing, or HVAC system can cost thousands of dollars to fix, and by purchasing a house without an inspection contingency, you accept financial responsibility for making these repairs.
2. Overlooked issues can pose health and safety hazards.
Without an inspection, you might not be aware of problems that can negatively impact your family's health and safety. Midha notes that a home inspector can often detect potentially hazardous issues such as outdated electrical wiring, deteriorating plumbing materials, or galvanized pipes that may contain traces of lead. Serious structural problems, such as cracked walls, sloping floors, and other damage to the foundation, can also make the home an unsafe environment. "The home inspector can flag apparent safety issues for a licensed contractor to formally inspect and repair or replace as needed," Malkin says.
3. Insurance might not cover costly repairs.
For pre-existing issues discovered after you move in, you can't always count on insurance to help cover the costs of repairs. Because the damage occurred before you purchased the home, insurance companies typically don't cover these issues, says Andrea Collins, home expert and vice president of communications at the insurance company Hippo. An inspection can identify many of these costly issues, so you don't get stuck paying for them out of pocket.
However, it's important to note that an inspection isn't guaranteed to catch every issue in a home, as the inspector can't open up walls or see under the floors, Malkin says. Consider a supplemental insurance policy that can cover issues that arise later.
4. You forfeit some negotiating power.
"The window following the home inspection is your opportunity as a buyer to reevaluate your offer, renegotiate as appropriate, or even pull the offer if it's no longer an attractive investment," Collins says. She notes that more than 80% of home sale prices are negotiated twice: once for the initial offer and again after the inspection. If you skip the inspection, you forfeit your opportunity to readjust the price to more accurately reflect the condition of the home and account for future repairs.
5. The inspection can provide extra peace of mind.
For better or worse, a home inspection grants you a clearer picture of the home's condition. "Once that option is waived, new owners eliminate one of the layers of protection designed to safeguard their budget and reduce levels of stress," Midha says. Not knowing the details of the home's condition can bring additional uncertainty and anxiety to the already stressful process of buying a house. But by completing an inspection, you at least know what you're getting into. "If the home inspector finds a lot of problems, you can assume there are a lot of issues that can't be seen during the inspection," Malkin says. "If the home inspection yields few issues, you can breathe a little easier knowing the home is in decent shape."