What are the expectations of an offer right now?

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The Inspection Dilemma 

The two-story, colonial a few doors down from ours went on the market last Tuesday, and after 23 showings in a single day, the “sold” shingle was swaying in the wind by the next morning. While the interest resulted in a windfall for my neighbors, the sellers, I can’t help but wonder about the risks the buyers took in order to win the bid. 

One risk in particular with which buyers often struggle is deciding on an inspection. The idea of waiving an inspection to some seems absurd. Why risk it? Which begs the question: what are the dangers in waiving the inspection and, what can I do to protect myself against unforeseen problems? Knowing and weighing your risks is the first step. 

To Purchase…

If time is on your side and you’re not pinching pennies to come up with the down payment, the research will tell you that an inspection is the way to go. Inspections can cost anywhere from $300 – $700, which—in a competitive housing market—is a drop in the bucket when considering the potential price tag of a home in need of major repair. Additionally, the peace of mind that comes with an inspection might make that couple hundred bucks worth the expense. 

Awareness of the inspection process, however, is key. Keep in mind, inspectors do a “visual” inspection of the property and only spend two or three hours in a home.  Even with a good inspector, housing repair issues will almost certainly be missed. A good inspector will not catch every repair your future dream home needs, but he or she could save you from a potential money pit. If you’re unsure what makes a good inspector, the State Attorney General’s Office offers some suggestions on what to look for during the search process.

(Side note: Do the words money pit conjure up an image of Tom Hanks stuck in a rug, or is that just me?)

…Or Not To Purchase

If time is not on your side, and you’re in a 23-showings-in-one-day situation, you may feel pressure to waive the inspection. If you decide to forego the housing inspection process, don’t panic. As recent as 20 years ago, home inspections didn’t exist, and as early as 10 years ago only about half of home buyers were paying for a professional inspection. Nowadays, unlike the homes a decade or two ago, the appliances in a kitchen are more expensive than some of the equipment that previously would have been considered big-ticket items, like a water heater for example, and while it might feel scary to skip an inspection, it’s probably not the make-or-break decision is seems.

Skipping the professional inspection doesn’t mean you can’t take precautions, though. Consider options like a home warranty program. A home warranty is a type of insurance for new homebuyers that may cover the expense of costly appliance and heating and cooling repairs. Again, programs like these may not cover everything, but they also offer some protection against unforeseen expenses. For more on home warranties, check out the great article on Realtor.com.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, set your expectations for eventual repairs. All homes need maintenance, so whether it’s one year or five years, there will most likely be a repair or two that surprises you. If feasible, start a home repair savings or set aside account. My husband and I had an inspection and a home warranty, and we still had an expensive repair needed on a chimney that was not caught or covered by the inspection or warranty. Would we have preferred to catch the problem during the purchase? Probably. Would it have stopped us from buying our dream home? Not in a million years.