The Real Cost of a Home Inspection

a model house viewed through a magnifying glass
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?Caspar Benson - Getty Images

What do buying, selling, and building a home all have in common? You’ll need to schedule and complete a home inspection. It may seem like yet another hoop to jump through, full of boxes to tick off and safety features to test, but it's actually a crucial part of the real estate and construction process. The total home inspection cost includes not just the fee the inspector charges but also the expense of any necessary repairs they find. Still, a home inspection can actually save you money—and be a breeze if you approach it prepared.

Luckily, we have a few experts who can help. To help us make sense of this stress-inducing task, we tapped Leslie Turner, broker in charge and founding partner of Maison Real Estate; Mark Buskuhl, founder and CEO of Ninebird Properties; and Kerry Sherin, consumer advocate at Ownerly. Ahead, they help us break down what a home inspection is, whether or not you need one, and how much a home inspection costs. Happy house hunting!

What Happens During a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is all about ensuring the property in question is safe. It's a safety and quality assessment that examines the structural integrity, plumbing, electrical work, sewage, and heating or cooling systems. The inspector ensures that all the home's system are functioning safely and properly. The home is also evaluated for fire and safety issues, damages, and anything else that might affect its value.

Home inspections usually happens once a potential home buyer's offer has been accepted during the escrow period. Basically, the seller needs to know that they're getting what they're planning on paying for.

Can I Skip the Inspection All Together?

The short answer is yes, you can forego a traditional home inspection. Under normal circumstances, however, there's absolutely no reason to. The only reasons you might consider skipping a home inspection is if there are multiple competitive offers for the home in question or if the buyer or seller has a reason to rush the closing process. Beware: If the property's seller is being weirdly pushy about skipping the inspection, they may be trying to hide something.

Buying a home is arguably the biggest purchase you'll ever make, so you want to be sure it's a sound investment. Turner says, "This crucial step can save you from costly surprises after closing the deal and give you peace of mind knowing that your new palace is solid from foundation to roof." A home inspection not only protects your financial interests, but it also protects your health and safety.

If you choose to skip the inspection, Buskuhl suggests doing your own thorough research: "It's important for buyers to do their due diligence regardless of whether or not they choose to get a home inspection," he says. "This can include checking public records, reviewing recent appraisals, and speaking with the seller or their agent about any issues that may exist with the property."

You can also consider asking any contractors you plan to use for renovations to do a walk-through with you to give you a sense of what they will encompass. They can point out issues you might not have noticed.

Average Cost of a Home Inspection

Now that we’ve established that you definitely need a home inspection, how much does a home inspection actually cost? According to Buskuhl, "most home inspections tend to cost between $300 and $500 depending on the size and type of property being inspected. Additional fees may apply for services such as radon testing or termite inspections, which are commonly performed in addition to a home inspection." In some areas, you may also need to have a property inspected for underground fuel tanks. Fees can increase during peak buying times and lower when the market is slower.

Selecting a Home Inspector

Odds are, if you're selling your home, you have a real estate agent or broker. These industry professionals can point you in the right direction of an experienced local home inspector and can usually recommend one they trust. When you find an inspector, make sure they have the proper certification before you hire them. According to Sharin, a good inspector will be able to explain each step. "A good home inspector will be fully certified, have a healthy list of past clients for referrals, and be willing to walk you through the entire process, explaining their findings and what they could mean for your potential home."

The Most Common Reasons Homes Fail an Inspection

According to Nationwide Insurance, these are most common problem areas for homes"

  • Roof damage – This can range from a few missing shingles or small leaks to widespread needs for replacement.

  • Electrical problems – Any nonfunctioning electrical components or hazards such as frayed wires or outdated wiring (knob-and-tube) can merit a failure.

  • Plumbing problems – This includes anything from small leaks to broken water heaters and sewage backup.

  • Pests – While you won't fail because of ants or fruit flies, termite damage is a much more dangerous pest problem.

  • Mold – This usually goes hand in hand with water damage but can result in immediate failure.

What To Do If a House Fails the Inspection?

If the home you had your heart set on fails the home inspection, there are a few roads you can take.

Ask the Seller to Make Repairs

Most commonly, the buyer will request that the seller makes the necessary repairs prior to closing. The buyer can request professionals be used and even suggest which professionals.

Request a Price Decrease or Credit

The buyers can request that the sellers lower their asking price, pay the entirety of their closing costs, or offer a credit on the purchase. The goal is that the money saved in the price adjustment covers the cost of the repairs.

Walk Away

If the damages or inspection findings are too extensive, it. might be better to simply walk away. There will always be another home on the market in better shape.

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