Goodspeed: Always get a home inspection


QUESTION: Do you always need to get a home inspection? I am looking at a brand new property and my real estate agent told me I will have an advantage with the seller if I waive the home inspection. Do I really need it on a brand new property?

ANSWER: My feeling is that a buyer should always get a home inspection. I know that in a hot real estate market, buyers think waiving the home inspection will give them an advantage with the seller. I say big mistake.

A home is the largest purchase you are likely to make in your lifetime. You should know what the condition of that purchase is before agreeing to it. Even on a brand new property, I think a home inspection is in order.

The quality of workmanship can vary widely. A home inspector will be able to tell you about the quality of work, whether things have been done to code, if everything is working properly, any potential problems that may lie ahead – for example, drainage problems, or other issues.

When you sign a contract to purchase real estate, it should always contain a satisfactory home inspection contingency. A contingency gives the buyer the right to cancel the contract without penalty (i.e. get your deposit money back in full) if a particular condition of the contract is not met to your satisfaction.

There are generally two types of outcomes that can arise from a home inspection contingency: 1) If the home inspector finds problems, regardless of what they are, you have the absolute right to back out of the deal without penalty; 2) If the inspector finds problems, you can present those problems to the seller and give him or her X number of days to fix the problem, or give you a cash credit (generally, this comes off the sales price).

For example, if the shingles are peeling and the home obviously needs a new roof, you can try to negotiate the price of a new roof off the sales price. If the seller refuses to either fix the problem or negotiate a lower sales price, you can assess the magnitude of the defect and the potential cost to remedy it, and either decide to go forward with the deal or walk away.

The buyer pays for the inspection and should be present during the home inspection in order to ask any questions.

You should never buy a home, even a brand new home, without a home inspection, and a home inspection contingency clause in the sales contract.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: