Home inspection 101

During the home purchase process, your new home will likely go through a thorough visual inspection by a trained home inspector.  The purpose of this inspection is not to determine the home’s value, but rather to evaluate the condition of the home.  Your inspector will focus on your new home’s structure and mechanical systems (HVAC, electrical, plumbing). It is very important to read the inspection report carefully so that you aren’t surprised if major repairs are needed.

While a home inspection is not a mandatory part of every home purchase, most experts believe that the cost of the home inspection is a good investment. As many experts put it:  spending hundreds on a home inspection can save you thousands in unexpected repairs.  The cost of a home inspection can vary depending on location, the size of the home, and the age of the home.  The cost also depends on the thoroughness of the inspection.  According to CostHelper.com, the cost of a home inspection ranges from $100 to $900. 

It may be possible to make the purchase of a new home contingent on the home inspection.  This would mean that if the inspection reveals significant problems, you may have a certain number of days to back out of the sale. This contingency would be part of the purchase contract and is something that a trusted real estate professional can help you understand in more detail.

It is likely that your inspection report will reveal some potential problems that are not significant enough to be deal-breakers.  In this case, you may be able to ask that repairs are made prior to closing on the home.  However, it is important to remember that:

  • No inspection report issue must be repaired that isn’t already identified in the purchase contract.
  • The only mandatory repairs are what the mortgage lender, appraisal company, or insurance company requires.
  • The rest is negotiated between the buyer and seller.  

When determining what issues are worth negotiating, is it important to understand that most issues found are typical for the neighborhood.  Home inspectors recommend that you focus on atypical issues.  For example, every homebuyer wants new appliances; however, most appliances are in serviceable condition for 10 to 15 years.  And once a stove or dishwasher does need replaced, it can be done affordably.  On the other hand, it can be very expensive to mitigate mold or replace old plumbing.

To help you choose the most qualified individual to conduct your inspection, HUD offers this list of 10 questions you should ask your home inspector.  You can find a list of home inspectors on the National Association of Home Inspectors’ website

Money Management International (MMI), a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, is celebrating National Homeownership Month throughout June by providing potential and existing homeowners with valuable tips and tools.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.