What is a Home Inspection?

Once your offer on your new home is accepted, you’ll generally have your home inspected to make sure that everything is working the way it should.

You’ll hire an inspector to visit your home and look for damages, necessary repairs, and other things about the home that may not have been evident when you visited. An inspection gives you a chance to ask the seller to change or fix things about the home before you buy it. If you choose not to buy the home after the inspection, you’ll get your deposit back. But, you’ll still have to pay for the inspection.

Step One: Choose an Inspector

Your buyer’s agent can recommend an inspector to you. After all, we work with them all the time and can usually name a few good ones! Or, you could ask a colleague or a friend for a recommendation, or find a home inspector online.

Keep in mind, it’s illegal for the seller’s agent to recommend an inspector to you – they can only point you to the website showing licensed inspectors.

Step Two: Attend the Inspection

You’ll learn a lot about your new home during the inspection, so you’ll definitely want to be there!

The inspector will walk through the home with you and explain everything they see—good and bad—such as the home’s maintenance issues, what might not be issues now but could be later (and how to prevent them), and what’s working well.

They will also look for evidence of bigger issues (like rodents and pests). If this evidence exists, they’ll recommend a specialist to inspect further. Your inspector may also conduct radon testing to ensure that your home is safe for you and your family.

Step Three: Receive the Inspection Results

Most inspectors prepare written reports that detail everything that was found during the inspection and that can be emailed to you.

There are almost always items found during a home inspection. Some may be nothing to worry about. Some you may want fixed before you move in. Your inspection contingency (included in your Offer to Purchase letter) allows you time to negotiate with the seller and decide what happens next.

Step Four: Choose What to Do Next

You’ll have a couple of options.

If you no longer want to buy the home after the inspection, you can exit the contract and get your deposit back as long as you exit before the inspection contingency date included in your Offer to Purchase letter.

If you do want to move forward, you and your agent can negotiate terms with the seller. For example, you can ask them to replace items (such as the water heater or radon system) in the home before you move in. Or, you could ask for a credit from them to replace it yourself.

Once you and the seller agree on the terms and how to move forward, these terms are incorporated into the Purchase and Sale agreement.