Do you really need a home inspection?

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You have found the home of your dreams. Armed with a letter of pre-qualification for your mortgage, neighborhood comps and a check for your earnest money, you want to make an offer.

Just make sure that offer includes a contingency for a home inspection.

Even if the home looks perfect -- new cabinets and countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, fresh paint and even recently refinished hardwood floors -- you don’t know the condition of the parts of the home you can’t easily see.

Is the plumbing corroded? Do electrical dangers lurk? Can water seep through window frames? Does the heater blower work properly?

Certified home inspectors will check those systems -- and dozens of others -- as they assess the condition of the home you want to buy.  According to the Colorado-based International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the inspection report will address issues in four key categories:

  • Major defects, such as structural failure
  • Flaws that can turn into major defects
  • Safety hazards
  • Issues that can lead to the inability to finance, live in or insure the home if not fixed immediately

The average fee for a home inspection in the Capital Region is $392, according to HomeAdvisor.com, but an inspection potentially can save thousands of dollars in home repair bills. By  including a home contingency in your offer, you can renegotiate with the seller if the inspection report shows the house needs expensive repairs. Should the house need major upgrades, you can walk away from the purchase.

When your home inspection takes place, be sure to attend and accompany the inspector on the walk-through of  the home. It will be your chance to learn about the major systems in the house, as well as to find the location of the electrical panel, main water valve and such. The inspector also can show you maintenance items to address down the road.