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Should I Pay for a Professional Home Inspection?

One of the most common questions I get from buyers is, “Is it worth paying for a professional home inspection?”

The short answer is yes, provided the inspector knows his stuff. This is by no means an attack on the industry as I always recommend my clients include a home inspection contingency in their offers. As with many other professions that are loosely regulated, the bar for entry into this field is low and one can become a “certified home inspector” within a weekend.

When shopping for an inspector, get a referral from your agent, or someone else you trust. If that’s not an option…check out the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) website and interview a few inspectors that work your area. This site also has a great FAQ on what a home inspection entails.

Focus your screening on:

  • years in the business
  • reference availability
  • number of inspections performed
  • any relevant work history that they can tap knowledge from

I especially like inspectors with prior contractor, construction, and/or trade experience.

Why would a real estate practitioner decline to refer an inspector, or just provide a list of names for the buyer to screen and choose from themselves? Because it’s likely that the home inspector is not going to find every little thing that is, or will go wrong in the near future. You’re paying an inspector to perform a “visual inspection” of the home which is fairly limited in scope.

It is, however, their job to identify potential red flags and report them to you for further review. (A good inspector will catch 99% of these issues in the short 4-hour inspection, but many agents don’t want to be the one that recommended the guy that missed something that will cost the new homeowner $50,000 to fix!) Want expert testing and thorough analysis of all your home’s systems? It just wouldn’t be practical to pay for all the specialists: a roofer, plumber, electrician, painter, carpenter, and geo/structural engineers to name a few.

Here on Oahu, the going rate is around $400-$450 for the average single-family home, and less for most condos and town-homes. Want to take the chance that you’ll miss something really expensive inspecting the home yourself, or with a “friend” that knows a bit about construction to save a few hundred bucks?

Despite all the things I mentioned above, I’d say that it’s money well spent just to get a second pair of eyes checking things out in your new investment. Need a recommendation on home inspectors, tradesmen, or just have general real-estate questions? Contact me.

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