Home Inspection and Appraisal

You’ve locked down a deal on your home. Great work! But don’t get so gung-ho about moving in that you seal the deal without knowing the house has a nasty problem or two. Big mistake! That’d be like taking a bite out of a juicy apple and finding out it’s rotten with a worm inside. Yuck!

Save yourself a lot of pain. No matter how good the deal sounds, never skip a home inspection.

What Is a Home Inspection?

During a home inspection, a professional examines the condition of the home you want to buy and helps you decide whether or not it’s worth what you agreed to pay for it. If the inspection reveals major problems with the home—like structural issues or expensive repairs—you can ask the seller to:

  • Fix the problem
  • Reduce the price
  • Cancel the contract

Depending on the advice of your real estate agent and the age and condition of the home you’re about to buy, you might also want to get other professional evaluations like a radon test or termite inspection.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

A typical range for a home inspection might be $300–500, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.1 You’ll likely pay for the home inspection shortly after the seller accepts your offer. Keep in mind, the cost depends on factors like the location and characteristics of the home. It may sound steep, but it’s worth paying a few hundred dollars to avoid a costly surprise down the road!

How to Find a Good Inspector

Your real estate agent will probably be able to recommend a home inspector. If you’d rather choose your own, be aware that only about half the states in the U.S. have licensing or certification requirements. In either case, make sure your inspector has plenty of experience.

Other Contingencies

Remember how we said it’s standard to make your offer contingent on a home inspection? Well, that’s not the only contingency that should be on your mind. Here are a couple more contingencies you should know about so you don’t get stuck with a bad deal or a delayed closing date:

  • Appraisal: If you’re getting a home loan, your lender will require an appraisal—which you’ll also have to pay for (bummer). This is when a professional appraiser takes a look at the house you’re buying to estimate its fair market value, and it protects you from paying more than what the home is worth. If the appraisal comes in lower than your offer price, check with your real estate agent for guidance about what to do next.

  • Final mortgage approval: This is when your lender plunges into the depths of your finances to finalize your mortgage. Whatever you do, don’t open a new credit account, take on more debt, or change jobs once you’re under contract. Taking on debt is a bad idea anytime, but any changes to your income and overall financial situation can jeopardize your loan process.

Closing Time

Whoa. Can you feel it? Your journey is almost over. These last few chapters are designed to prepare you for closing, the final step in the home-buying process. Ready? Get set. Go!