Commentary by Adam Long
HomeTeam Inspection Service of Kentuckiana Owner Brad Lawler explains why potential buyers should never skip a home inspection, even when housing inventory is scarce.
It’s no secret that the current housing market is hotter than ever. Many houses are receiving multiple offers before they officially go on the market, and the summer real estate boom is still on the horizon. As the housing market gets more and more competitive, some eager buyers are tempted to waive the home inspection to close faster and attempt to make themselves a more appealing candidate to the seller.
However, according to Brad Lawler, the HomeTeam Inspection Service owner of HomeTeam Inspection Service of Kentuckiana, the decision to waive a home inspection is never in the best interest of the buyer.
“With a lack of housing inventory in Louisville and across the country, it’s tempting for buyers to waive the home inspection, but there’s extreme danger in doing that,” Lawler says. “Waiving an inspection can open a buyer up to unforeseen costs down the road that could have otherwise been avoided.”
Lawler offers five reasons why buyers should always get a home inspection:
1. An inspection can help buyers avoid overpaying. Most buyers today are already paying a premium with housing prices across the country at an all-time high. According to a recent report from Redfin, in April, the median home sale price in the U.S. increased 17% year-over-year to $341,250. With buyers paying top-dollar for homes, unreported issues and extensive repairs should not be part of the process.
“Recently, one of our home inspectors uncovered a structural problem that ended up costing the seller $35,000 to repair,” Lawler says. “If the buyer had purchased that home without an inspection, they would have not only paid a premium for the home, but they would have also been forced to handle the costly repair on top of it all. It’s a fast way to rack up negative equity. Today’s buyers are already overspending, so taking on additional risk by waiving the inspection is cause for concern.”
2. An inspection can uncover problems that the seller might not even know about. While a seller is required by law to disclose problems they know about, what about the problems they may not be aware of?
“I don’t know many sellers who would have gone into their crawl space or climbed up onto their roofs prior to putting their home on the market,” Lawyer says. “We’re also seeing a lot of issues on homes that have exterior insulation and finish systems. If that type of product is installed incorrectly—and it often is—it can cause significant damage to the house because water will permeate the system.”
While finding a substantial problem the seller didn’t know about won’t necessarily kill the deal, it does give buyers a chance to make an informed decision and provides an opportunity to negotiate the price of the home given the overall cost of any large repairs.
3. An inspection gives buyers a chance to budget for future repairs. “One of the things that we do at HomeTeam is provide buyers with a punch list of maintenance items so they can start to budget for future repairs and replacements,” Lawler says. “For example, we look at the age of the HVAC system and offer buyers a timeline of how long it will likely last. You don’t want to wait until something breaks to fix or replace it.”
Armed with this information, buyers can plan for future expenses and take advantage of sales when they know they must replace a major appliance rather than suddenly being faced with a failing air conditioning unit in the middle of summer.
4. An inspection can uncover problems that might affect your health. “Unfortunately, we often have problems with radon in Louisville because of the type of lot the city is situated on,” Lawler says. “Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers, and it can be in any type of home. It doesn’t matter if it’s brand-new construction or a third-floor condominium.”
Since radon cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, the only way to ensure that a home is free of radon is to test for it. As part of a home inspection that includes environmental testing, a potential buyer should be made aware of any other issues in the home, including mold, lead paint, air pollutants and pests that may not otherwise be uncovered without a thorough inspection.
5. An inspection can prevent buyer’s remorse. “Buyers are closing on houses faster than ever in order to stay competitive, and we’ve been getting a lot of buyer’s remorse calls lately,” Lawler says. “We recently heard from a buyer who was advised by his agent to skip the home inspection in order to close quickly on the home. When the buyer walked into their new home, they were met with serious electrical problems that will likely cost thousands of dollars to repair. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
“A home inspection shouldn’t be an obstacle,” Lawler says. “At HomeTeam, our goal is to help real estate agents and buyers reach the closing table with the knowledge that they’re making an informed decision. You can’t do that if you waive the inspection.”