The Critical Mistake Homebuyers Are Making Right Now (and How to Avoid It)
Mortgage rates are lower than ever. And the market’s hot—like, better-than-it’s-been-in-the-past-decade hot. Those factors combined make it so tempting to not just buy a house, but do so quickly, before the sellers get another offer, raise their ask or decide they’d much rather stay where they are, thank you very much. And in that stress, you might do anything you can to seal the deal—even if it means skipping the home inspection altogether.
At least, that’s what roughly one in five people decided to do this past June, according to data from real estate brokerage firm Redfin. It’s a 13 percent increase over the previous year, and it’s something that Daniel Tsirlin of Denver Home Inspection has seen on the rise throughout the pandemic.
“Waiving the home inspection process is really attractive right now, because it essentially fast-forwards everything by nine days, at least in Colorado,” he explains.
Plus, you can save $400 or more by skipping this part of the process, and if you trust that the home’s in great shape, why not save everyone the hassle, right? It makes sense…until you consider the huge costs this investment can save you down the road. A home inspector carefully surveys parts of the home you and your real estate agent may not notice, inspecting crawl spaces for structural issues, flying drones overhead to see if that “couple years old” roof needs patching, checking out the HVAC systems—basically, all of the unsexy features of the home that can come with four to five-figure bills if they’re in need of repair.
And, with the rise of virtual tours amid the coronavirus pandemic, the need for a thorough home inspection can be all the more critical. “I doubt many virtual tours have tours of the mechanical room, so you can take a peek at the plumbing lines or water heater,” Tsirlin says. “The people hosting the virtual tours can show you what they want to show you.”
You can (and should) ask to see those things during your virtual tour, but there’s another perk to having a professional home inspection: Taking advantage of their tech and expertise to ensure the house is in solid condition.
“We typically bring out about $10,000 to $15,000 in tools to inspect a house,” Tsirlin says. That includes the aforementioned drone for high roofs, as well as things like an infrared camera that can detect leaks in the subfloor of the home, as well as moisture meters, Radon detectors and gas sniffers. They can also point out things like termite damage and water drainage issues.
"Of the many homes I have inspected, water damage to the structure has been the most damaging and costly, causing foundation problems, rot and the dreaded mold,” inspector Rick Yerger told HGTV.
Armed with this information—typically provided to you in a 40-plus page report after the inspection—you can better decide whether you (A) are getting a good deal, (B) should demand a few repairs before closing, (C) should renegotiate the price of the home or (D) need to walk away entirely. And if the seller is pressuring you to waive the inspection, we can’t help but wonder: why?
When you’re searching for a home inspector, you can speed up the timeline by a day or two if you find an expert who can turn around the report the same day. Tsirlin, for example, uses an app that lets him submit the report to homeowners before he even leaves the property.
Whatever you do though, make sure your home inspector is certified—the American Society of Home Inspectors and International Association of Certified Home Inspectors are two main organizations—and licensed if your state requires one. In this case, a minor hassle today could save you major headaches down the road.