Should You Waive a Home Inspection When Buying a House?

Building Inspector completing an inspection form on clipboard beside new build constructionFor many people, buying a home is the biggest financial investment they will ever make. In a residential real estate purchase, you want to be sure that you are paying a fair price and getting what you expect. Part of the process, typically, is a home inspection. Are there ever circumstances in which you should waive a home inspection when buying a house?

Possibly, but those circumstances are very limited. You might consider waiving a home inspection in a seller’s market if the home appears to be everything you want, and you are afraid of losing it to another buyer. In that case, waiving the inspection might make you a more attractive buyer from the seller’s standpoint, since the risk of a poor inspection won’t cause the sale to fall through.

You may also consider waiving a home inspection if you know the house is a fixer-upper, the price is right, and you expect to do extensive repairs anyway. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you may decide to dispense with a home inspection if you are purchasing a new or newer home, on the theory that everything in the home should be in good condition. (This may or may not turn out to be the case.)

Under most circumstances, however, you should not waive a home inspection. A simple cost-benefit analysis reveals why.

What Does a Home Inspection Cost, and What Does it Cover?

HomeAdvisor reports that in 2019, a home inspection costs an average of $315. As you might expect, the cost is likely to be a bit higher for larger homes, and less for smaller ones. It might seem tempting to avoid any unnecessary expense at a time when you are already shelling out many thousands of dollars. But you should consider not only what a home inspection costs you, but what it could save you.

People are often confused about exactly what a home inspection covers, and what it does not. Services vary with the inspector you use, of course; some are going to be more thorough than others, so get a recommendation from someone you trust. Your real estate agent can probably recommend an inspector.

In general, a home inspector will look at the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems of the home. They will also inspect the house’s foundation, crawlspace, attic, fireplaces, and roof, as well as appliances such as the water heater, stove, and refrigerator. Your home inspector may look or test for problems such as termites, asbestos, or radon. If these services are not included in your inspection, you may be able to have them added for an additional cost.

Don’t expect your home inspection to uncover every possible problem. A home inspector will not, for example, open up a wall or perform invasive actions that themselves would require a repair. If they notice something that would warrant inspection beyond the scope of their work, however, they will let you know. An experienced home inspector will often notice an apparently insignificant detail  that even an alert home buyer might not realize is an indication of a problem.

How a Home Inspection Can Save You Money

Let’s get back to that cost-benefit analysis we mentioned earlier. Your cost for a home inspection will likely be $300-$400. Not insignificant, but not that much compared to what it could save you. Your home inspector might discover that a new roof is needed, that the electrical system is not up to code, or that there are signs of water damage, which might mean hidden mold. Any one of those scenarios, or countless others, could cost thousands of dollars to fix.

If you find out about such problems before the sale closes, you have three options. You can decide to proceed with the sale and fix the problems yourself. You can ask the seller to fix them (or to give you money to do so). Or you may choose to walk away from the sale altogether. In that case, your $300-$400 inspection cost bought you an escape from further expense and headaches, not to mention issues you would have to disclose if you ever decided to sell the house.

In Michigan, you are not required to have a home inspection to qualify for a mortgage. But you should definitely think twice before deciding to waive a home inspection. The risks are simply too great; even the discovery of a relatively minor issue, such as a malfunctioning dishwasher, can more than make up for the cost of the inspection. And if your inspector doesn’t find any problems, that doesn’t mean that you wasted money on the inspection. It just means you can have peace of mind about completing this major purchase.

If you have questions about home inspection or any aspect of buying or selling a house, we invite you to contact our law office to schedule a consultation.