Here’s one of the most common questions posed to real estate agents by home-shoppers who have found a property they’re interested in: “Is it okay for me to perform my own home inspection?” This is usually followed by a statement like, “I’m pretty handy around the house. If there’s a problem, I’ll find it.”
The above question is more relevant than ever, as many people in this current seller’s market are choosing to skip the home inspection contingency, which would require a professional inspection, to gain an advantage when faced with a bidding war over a coveted property.
Your real estate agent will promptly tell you that even if you know your way around a miter saw and caulking gun, it’s best to pay the moderate fee to have a licensed and certified home inspector, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, do the job for you. This is not meant to cast aspersions on your abilities as a potential homeowner. Rather, it is designed to caution you that there are several practical reasons why it’s a smart idea to receive an independent, third-party assessment of a property before you buy.
Let’s explain it this way: You may feel completely comfortable filling out complicated tax forms for a business you own, but you may be missing out on significant savings (and perhaps inviting government scrutiny) by not hiring a certified public accountant who intimately knows every hidden corner of the current tax code. The same goes when it comes to enlisting the expertise of an experienced inspector, who may save you big dollars as well as the grief of purchasing a money pit.
Here are four reasons not to rely on yourself to perform a home inspection:
Just the Facts: In some cases, home-shoppers who have already fallen in love with a listing may be blinded to problems they will have to deal with once they move in. In one’s zeal to move the process along and secure the property, it might be easy to ignore issues that would be highlighted by a professional who will be conducting the inspection with his “head” rather than his “heart.” When you have a personal stake in the property, hiring an unbiased inspector to give you the straight, cold facts about the home—the good, the bad, and the ugly from foundation to roof—is invaluable. It eliminates the possibility that your own assessment of the home may be clouded by poor judgment and wishful thinking. Remember, buying a home is a huge investment and a monumental financial decision. It’s best to find a trusted home inspector to help you make this decision with complete confidence.
Missed Defects and Misinterpreted Conditions: While it may be possible for a non-inspector to point out obvious issues with a home (cracked windows or stuck doors, for example), there are plenty of trouble areas that you may not even be aware are problems or may simply overlook, including a non-fire-rated door in an attached garage, lack of attic venting, compressed and inefficient attic insulation, standing water in a crawlspace, exterior window and door gaps, a faulty gutter system, an improperly connected deck, outdated wiring, and active roof and plumbing leaks. Further, many people who perform their own inspections overact to interior and exterior wall cracks that an inspector may conclude are not cause for immediate concern. Or you may discover slow draining sinks and toilets that you assume can be remedied with a snake or liquid drain opener, when, in fact, the culprit may be a clogged main sewer line. The list of possible missed defects or misinterpreted conditions in a home is simply too long to catalog here. As for the stuck door above, it may be a sign of foundational shifting—something your inspector will certainly note in the report.
Lost Negotiating Leverage: A report detailing necessary repairs and replacements as noted by a professional home inspector will carry far greater weight when presented to the seller and seller’s agent. Inspectors operate under a strict code of ethics to present an unbiased opinion of the condition of all observable systems of the home at the time of the inspection. As someone with a personal interest in the ultimate selling price of the property, the home-shopper who performs their own inspection won’t have nearly the negotiating power to either bring down the sale price (based on their own observations) or have repairs and replacements executed by the seller prior to closing. In a buyer’s hands, the detailed report—including color photos of defects, age of equipment and systems when possible, and recommendations on replacing components and systems nearing the end of their useful life—becomes a strong negotiating tool that can save the buyer a lot of money and heartache. Further, the report will indicate when systems may need replacement down the road, allowing the buyer to budget for those costs when the time inevitably arrives. Even if no significant problems are found during the inspection, the report serves as a baseline (including a foundation level survey of each room, a free service from A-Pro) that can be used to check how well the home and its systems are aging.
Establishing a Relationship with a Home Inspector: In addition to performing a traditional 500-point home inspection, there are other services performed by home inspectors like those at A-Pro, including checks for dangerous levels of radon, lead paint, carbon monoxide, mold, wood-destroying insects, damaged main sewer lines, and more. This stage of the home-buying process is a good time to build a trusted relationship with an inspector who can be your go-to professional throughout your ownership of the home.