A crucial step in home buying
The last thing you want when making the biggest purchase of your life is later finding out it’s going to cost you way more money.
And while getting an inspection can feel like yet another expense in the home buying process, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and avoiding major issues.
In this article, we’ll explore what inspections typically include and how they can often save home buyers serious cash. We’ll also cover how much home inspections cost.Verify your home buying eligibility. Start here
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection examines a residential property to determine its condition and potential issues it may have. Trained and licensed home inspectors are commissioned to conduct them, and will check the building’s foundation, plumbing, electrical, windows, heating and cooling, as well as evidence of any past damage. All these factors can turn into future expenses — possibly major ones — for the homeowner.
Notably, this is different from an appraisal. An appraiser’s sole job is to judge the market value of a home and they may not be trained to recognize serious defects. If the appraisers do notice any, they’ll likely only highlight them for the purposes of their valuations.
Do you need an inspection?
For many Americans, the single biggest transaction they make in their lives is the purchase of a home. So, doing all you can to know what you’re getting into makes sense.Ready to buy a home. Start here
It’s the same as doing proper due diligence before making a big investment. If an inspection uncovers defects, you can walk away or ask the owners to either fix them themselves or accept a lower sales price that will allow you to make the necessary repairs once you’re in residence.
If the owners want to fix the defects themselves, be sure they agree to pay for a subsequent inspection to make sure the remedial work is satisfactory and up to code.
Of course, inspections can’t catch every defect but they do uncover many. At the very least, they can help you avoid buying a money pit for the few hundred dollars these inspections typically cost.
How an inspection can save you big bucks
About 88% of borrowers had an inspection when they bought their last home, according to Porch.com. Of those, an 83% share followed their mortgage lender’s recommendation to have one done. On average, these home buyers saved $14,000 on the sales price by using their inspections in negotiations.
Porch conducted this survey of 998 home buyers in 2019. While it’s a few years removed and a relatively small sample size, those types of savings greatly overshadow the cost of an inspection. The study also showed that 86% of inspections revealed something that needed to be fixed.
How much is a home inspection?
As of June 2022, home inspections ranged between $281 and $402 with an average cost of $341, according to HomeAdvisor.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has it in the same ballpark, suggesting the typical range falls between $300 and $500.See what mortgage rate you qualify for
Variations in how much an inspection costs
HomeAdvisor identifies the two factors that are most likely to affect what you’ll pay for an inspection:
- The location — Some cities and states are more costly than others
- The size of the home — The higher the square footage, the bigger the fee
You might pay a fee as low as $200 for a home under 1,000 square feet. But an inspector might charge $400 or more if the building is 2,000 square feet or bigger.
Other factors may affect the cost as well. For example, an unusually remote or inaccessible property might attract a higher fee. The same could apply if the home is unusually old, rundown or oddly constructed.
What is included in the cost of a home inspection?
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors has a recommended checklist for its members to use when inspecting a home. It’s very comprehensive and includes all aspects of the home’s internal and external structure, yard issues, heating or HVAC system, and the property’s drainage and plumbing.
The list goes on to cover insulation and ventilation in the attic, doors, windows and interiors, and a range of built-in kitchen appliances. And that’s not every item on the list. Here’s a full list of what inspectors look for.Check your home buying options. Start here
What’s not included
While inspections are important, they’re not guaranteed to find every potential problem with a property. HUD says inspections typically last two or three hours and inspectors have that long checklist to get through in that time.
An inspector will usually go into the attic and crawl space but won’t be prying up floorboards or cutting into walls to uncover hidden issues. However, they should note in their report any concerns that they’re not qualified to deal with.
For example, an inspector might suggest another expert if they’re worried about the possible presence of radon, asbestos, pests, lead paint and so on. They might also recommend a camera inspection of the sewer, a specialist survey the chimney, an electrician check the wiring, or a structural engineer for the foundations or roof.
Be aware of seasonal limitations or if the home is uninhabited. It’s hard to test an HVAC’s cooling capacity in the dead of winter or a furnace’s capabilities in the height of summer. If nobody’s lived there for a while, water and electricity may be disconnected.
If an inspector misses a defect that was current at the time of the inspection — that they should have spotted — you may be able to claim damages against them in court to recoup the costs of any consequent repairs.
Few of us buy homes often enough to become experts so we have to rely on the expertise of others. Home inspectors are among the most valuable providers of that expertise.Verify your home buying eligibility. Start here
No wonder such a high proportion of home buyers use them. After all, they commonly pay for themselves (in some cases, many times over) through a sale price reduction or through savings on unknown defects that the buyer would have rectified after the purchase.
Most real estate professionals recommend getting an inspection when buying and it’s hard not to agree with them.
Is an inspection worth it?
Yes. Even if you don’t end up making big savings, the reassurance that your new home has been inspected by a professional could save you sleepless nights.
How much is a home inspection?
The cost depends on the size of the home and where it’s located. You might pay $200 for a small home in Detroit, MI, or well over $500 for a Hollywood mansion. The national average in June 2022 was $341, according to HomeAdvisor.
Why pays for an inspection?
Inspection fees were paid by home buyers in 80% of cases and sellers in 19%, according to Porch.com
How long does a home inspection take?
HUD suggests the average inspection takes two to three hours. Of course, you’ll need to allow a while for when you to find an inspector, book an inspection date, and for them to write and send you the report.Time to make a move? Let us find the right mortgage for you