What Inspections Do I Need To Buy A Home?

Imagine several years later after buying a home that you discover a crack in your foundation because your basement flooded during an unusually large rain event. I can only imagine that that would be pretty upsetting to any home owner.
Your first course of action after you clean up the water is to call your real estate agent and ask about if you have any recourse with the prior owner to have them pay for the crack in the foundation. Your agent suggests that you might not as the crack could have happened after you bought the home.
The other thing your agent reminds you of is that you elected to buy the home without an inspection. Upon remembering this you hang up the phone upset with yourself. You know that if you had gotten a home inspection you may have avoided buying a home that had a cracked foundation. Now you have no one to blame but yourself and no one to help pay for the foundation repair but your own bank account.

The Inspection Period Starts When Your Sales Contract Is Accepted
With a signed sales contract in hand your next 10 days or so are going to be filled with ordering different types of inspections and anxiously waiting for the results of those inspections. It is imperative in buying a home that you get as many inspections as applicable and possible done on your home for your own piece of mind. In many states you also have a certain period of time to complete your inspections in order to have a way of backing out of the contract using any type of contingency clause.

What Inspections Are There When Buying A Home?
There are quite a few inspections that you can select when buying a home. Only a few however are required. Electing to get an inspection is your choice if it is not required and you will most likely be responsible for paying for it if you order it. In some cases, like a buyer’s market, you may be able to get the seller to pay for any number of inspections as part of your sales contract negotiations. The list below will list the required inspections first and then touch on some of the more common inspections after that.

List of Inspections When Buying A Home

Appraisal – The appraisal isn’t really an inspection per se, it is an appraiser’s opinion of the value of the home. The lender wants an appraisal so that they know what the value of the home is that they are going to be lending money on. They also want to know the physical condition of the home to know that they are lending money on a structurally sound home. Typically, your mortgage company will pick the appraiser, but you in many cases will be responsible for paying for the appraisal once it is completed.

Termite or Pest Inspection – This inspection in some states is required on all sales contracts and in other states it is an elected inspection. Sellers will often pay for this inspection as well as pay for any treatment or damage repairs caused by wood infestation pests. Again, this is negotiable with the seller in who pays for what. If you are buying a home using an FHA mortgage you will have to get a pest inspection.

Well and Septic System Inspection – This can be a required inspection if you are getting a government backed loan from FHA, VA or USDA. Often, your mortgage company will help you locate an inspector. If the type of mortgage that you pick requires this inspection, chances are you’ll end up paying for it. Often in rural areas where water for the home comes from a well you will want to get a potable water test to ensure that the water you are drinking in the home is safe for human consumption.

Radon Inspection – This inspection is rarely required, but it is often ordered by home buyers who have a concern about Radon Gas. Radon is a slightly radioactive gas that can build up in certain homes in certain parts of the country. So far, there hasn’t been much research to support Radon Gas that concentrates in a home as being harmful to humans. But home owners can still get this test for their piece of mind, and there are some homes that have little ventilation and damp basements that can experience radon buildup.

Mold Inspection – Some areas of the country have mold problems. It is best to check with your agent to see if your area has a mold problem. Black mold is of particular concern as it has been linked to serious health concerns. Mold remedies in homes with mold problems can be expensive.

There may be additional inspections that you may want to get that are particular to your specific geographic area. You will want to make sure that you check in with your real estate agent to get localized answers for your home purchase. This is also a good reason to be using a buyer’s agent instead of having a listing agent represent the seller and you.
A buyer’s agent is supposed to give you unbiased information that protects you as the buyer. To learn more about using a real estate agent to represent you when you buy a home see: Hiring A Real Estate Agent.
If you want more information on home or other inspections when buying a home please ask EdGAR.