Truth about Home Inspections


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The vast majority of homes sold in the United States – over 70 percent – involve a home inspection. Even so, there is much confusion and uncertainty surrounding this process. Here are some of the more common misconceptions:

The purpose of a home inspection is to come up with a list of imperfections which can then be used to negotiate a lower price.

Incorrect. The primary purpose of an inspection is to identify issues affecting safety, structural integrity and habitability, and to identify other significant items not previously noted on the disclosure statement completed by the seller. If and only if your inspection discovers issues of this nature should you attempt to use the inspection results as a means to reopen the issue of pricing. Also, the purpose of an inspection is NOT to point out every minor cosmetic defect. An unwritten rule of thumb is that “if it’s cosmetic, it probably won’t be pointed out by the inspector. ”

Inspections are only applicable to “used homes.

False. On the contrary, new construction is often the situation where a good inspection is MOST needed. Why? Because there are so many things that go into building a new home, because so many different people are involved in the process, and because not all builders can be trusted to do everything you would expect them to do. Also, most new construction contracts state that closings will not be deferred, and escrows will not be withheld, if not all open items are finished prior to closing. So, if you don’t have a timely inspection, you could be setting yourself up for a problem at the time of closing (before I got into real estate, I actually had this exact thing happen to me; it was a nightmare).

If your inspector is licensed, they will provide a quality inspection.

Wrong again! A little more than half of the states have some form of inspector regulation, but the requirements are far from uniform. Having said that, common sense would still indicate that it is wise to confirm anything that the inspector tells you regarding their licensing or other credentials.

You can eliminate the need for an inspection by having other inspections performed (code inspection, pest inspection, appraisal, etc. ).

Not true. There is simply no substitute for a routine contractor’s inspection. While these other forms of “inspection” are valuable, no combination of these secondary procedures can take the place of an inspection.

All forms of inspector certification are created equally.

Wrong once more. Organizations that provide inspector certification range from those that require nothing more than an annual membership fee all the way up to those requiring that the inspector have experience in the literal hundreds of inspections completed. You should investigate the organization providing the “credentials” as well as the inspector him or herself before you make a final decision regarding which inspector to use.

Home inspections are foolproof.

No, they are not. Even the best inspectors miss things. Most inspectors have contracts that contain disclaimers that specifically state that they are not liable for anything they may miss. While this may sound unreasonable, the hard reality is that there is simply no way that any person can discover every potential defect in an inspection that typically lasts three hours or less for the amount of money that is typically charged for an inspection.

Home inspectors destroy real estate deals.

Good ones don’t. Do real estate transactions sometimes fall apart because of inspection results? Absolutely. However, the analogy that I would use is this: inspections don’t destroy real estate deals; bad houses destroy real estate deals. ” All a good inspector does is deliver the facts. The facts determine the outcome, not the messenger (although we all know people that love to shoot the messenger!).

I hope this helps clarify some of the common misconceptions about home inspections. For a more detailed discussion of home inspections, please visit the Professional One website . Good luck!

Michael McClure is the founder of Professional One Real Estate, a brokerage located in Plymouth, Michigan. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in accounting, McClure worked as a Certified Public Accountant for Price Waterhouse for nearly a decade. After leaving accounting in 1991, he began selling real estate. To date, he and his partner, RE/MAX Hall of Fame Member Phyllis Lemon, have cumulative lifetime sales of approximately $500M. McClure also volunteers on the Professional Standards Committee (a self-governing body of the local association of realtors that acts in a judge-and-jury-like fashion regarding ethics complaints and arbitration disputes) of Western Wayne Oakland County Association of Realtors. He sat for and passed the State of Michigan's Associate Real Estate Broker's examination in December 1996. McClure and his team have developed one of Metro Detroit’s top ranking real estate websites .


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