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What to expect when you’re inspecting a home

Published in Real Estate Market on August 17, 2023 by  Katie Geffken

If there is one word that is inextricably linked to the buying of a home, it’s inspection—or often, in a hot market, the waiving of an inspection. But what really happens in a home inspection that doesn’t happen in a walkthrough with your Realtor? What’s the difference between a pre-inspection and a regular inspection? When is it safe to waive the inspection? 

We have answers to all your burning inspection questions!

What does the inspector see that Realtors don’t?

As Realtors, we can point out superficial things we notice that we suspect could lead to problems or the evidence of deeper flaws. But we are not licensed inspectors, who are trained to probe the “bones” of a home. Inspectors use special equipment to test the dampness of a basement, the functionality of a circuit breaker, the flow of the plumbing, the effectiveness of the HVAC, the structural integrity of a home, and the evidence of pests. A home inspection can take an hour for a smaller place and multiple hours for a bigger home. 

A home inspection is ordered and paid for by the buyers once they have a ratified sales contract. The buyers can be present for this inspection, with their Realtor. Buyers can ask questions throughout the process—most inspectors also like to explain what they see as they go—but don’t worry, there’s no need to remember everything that is said in the moment. Within 24 hours, the inspector issues a report that details everything they tested, saw, and uncovered in their investigation. 

Especially when buying an older home (though not exclusively when buying an older home) an inspection can identify those fixes that would be necessary for the house to retain not only its value but its livability.  

What’s a pre-inspection?

A pre-inspection is similar to a home inspection, but the timing is different. Whereas a regular full home inspection happens after a buyer is under contract on a home, a pre-inspection is scheduled for before a potential buyer makes an offer. It’s a tool that some buyers use in a hot market to identify ahead of time any red flags so that they can factor in a home’s condition when choosing a price and then confidently waive the inspection contingency in the offer. The downside is the buyer is paying for the inspection before securing a home as theirs. But, it’s a small price to increase the competitiveness of your offer while still performing due diligence on the home’s condition. 

Is it okay to waive an inspection without a pre-inspection?

There is no definitive right or wrong answer to this question; it’s all about weighing the benefits and risks with the home in question. It certainly increases the strength of an offer to not have an inspection contingency but it leaves the buyers vulnerable in the future; there could be unforeseen costs down the road the buyer is unprepared to address. This is a conversation to have with your Realtor on a case-by-case basis to reach the best decision for you and the particular home in question. 

As always, reach out with any questions or if you want us to refer you to a licensed inspector in the DC Metro area!

About Katie Geffken

Katie is founder and partner agent at Collective Property Consultants. A marketing strategist and local business owner turned Realtor®, Katie has an entrepreneurial spirit and loves to make a positive impact in people’s lives through her work. She spent years marketing for top brands before opening a successful cycling and barre studio in Capitol Hill, finally pivoting to real estate where she found she had the ideal blend of hard and soft skills to serve buyers and sellers in the Washington, DC area.

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