Real Estate Investing Basics

8 Common Questions Investors Have About Home Inspections – Answered!

10 Articles Written

You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test-drive. Why would you purchase a house without first checking it out thoroughly?

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Some investors, in an effort to cut costs, decide to purchase homes without getting an inspection. In many cases (with some exceptions), this is an unwise idea.

(Exception: If you’re a highly experienced investor or rehabber, you might be knowledgeable enough conduct the inspection yourself – although, even in this case, you should still get a second pair of eyes on the property, such as your general contractor, your project manager, or your mentor or mastermind group.)

If you’re a beginner (if you have less than 10 deals under your belt), getting an inspection is imperative.

  • If you're flipping the property, the inspection will clue you into the issues that your retail buyers will uncover and will alert you to any problems that need fixing right away.
  • If you're a buy-and-hold investor, a home inspection can uncover potentially serious (and costly) issues that may arise over the course of your ownership of the home.

It’s the best way to make sure you know what you’re getting into — and that you’re not spending your hard-earned cash on what could end up being a money pit.

Related: Investors Should ALWAYS Order Property Inspections Before Buying: Here’s Why

Here are answers to the most common questions that new investors ask regarding home inspections.

8 Common Questions Investors Have About Home Inspections

How Long Will it Take?

Most home inspections take 2-3 hours, but yours could be shorter or longer based on the size of the house, the house’s age and how many issues the inspector uncovers.

How Much Will it Cost?

Home inspections on average cost around $300-$500. This may seem like a lot of money, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to an unexpected repair that blows your profit margins.

Who Should Be There?

You should be present at the home inspection. Your project manager or contractor may opt to attend as well.

How Do I Find a Good Inspector?

Poll other real estate investors in your area for recommendations. Your real estate agent can provide you with referrals to home inspectors they've worked with before. Check that your inspector is licensed to work in your state and that he or she has positive customer reviews from people whose opinion you trust. 

What Will the Inspection Cover?

The inspection will cover many things both inside and outside the house, including:

  • Exterior: Checking foundation, doors and windows, the house’s frame, steps, siding, any decks or patios, driveway, sidewalks and lot
  • Roof: Checking the roof itself and its drainage system and gutters
  • Electrical: Making sure wiring is up to code, including circuit box, circuit breakers and fuses, testing any major appliances that will come with the house
  • Plumbing: Making sure pipes are in good condition, checking water pressure and water shut-offs, water supply and hot water heating system, testing fixtures and faucets to make sure they work properly
  • Heating and cooling: Checking furnace and A/C (if there is a central A/C system), inspecting vents, fireplace (if applicable) and insulation
  • Interior: Identifying any cosmetic damage and checking for signs of water damage, leaking, etc.
  • Safety: Checking smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, testing safety feature on automatic garage door (if there is one), checking handrails on steps, investigating for signs of mold or pest infestation

Will the Inspection Tell Me Much it Will Cost to Fix Issues?

No. Inspectors are only able to point out existing or potential issues, not recommend a course of action or estimate the price to fix them.

Can I Ask Questions?

Absolutely. If there’s something about the inspector’s findings that you don’t understand, feel free to ask her for clarification. She won’t be able to quote the cost to fix an issue, and she can’t make personal recommendations like how she would go about fixing it, but she can show you what’s wrong and help you understand why it’s worth your concern.

Related: 7 Smart Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Property Inspection

You’re also welcome to bring up any issues you noticed when you were walking through the home yourself. She can let you know whether they warrant concern or not.

Can I Re-Negotiate If the Inspector Finds Something Wrong With the House?

Yes, assuming your offer was contingent upon inspection.

Your original bid was based on assuming the house held a particular condition, and if the inspection uncovers any major unanticipated issues that will be costly or time-consuming to fix, it’s absolutely within your right to go back to the negotiation table.

Remember: You can make an offer with an inspection contingency on a house that’s sold “as-is.” The seller may not facilitate repairs on your behalf, but they may reduce the price, or you may decide that you don’t want to follow through to closing.

Investors: What questions would you add to this list?

Let’s get them answered in the comments section!

Joshua and his brothers have worked as Atlanta real estate brokers for more than 15 years. As real estate investors themselves, they are experts in h...
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    David Semer Investor from Lincroft, NJ
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Great post. I really like using the home inspection as help developing the scope of work for the rehab. If you can solve problems because your contractors are already on sight should be able to add into the scope of work. As oppose to trying to get somebody afterwards at a reasonable price.
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Although your agent is a great source for referrals, keep in mind your agent is paid for a sale, and nothing for a busted sale. A good inspector will give the buyer a heads up on the anticipated costs, which will require agent negotiations. Which can bust a sale. And your inspector probably relies on your agent for a stream of referrals.
    James R. Investor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Replied about 5 years ago
    My thoughts exactly as Ken said when I read your (Joshua) thoughts on asking your RE agent for referrals. I had problems both times after I went with an “agent referral” for an inspector. Never did it three times and ALWAYS tell newbies to NEVER trust their agent for an inspector referral. ALWAYS find one on your own and have that person vetted before you make an offer on a property.
    Christian Bors Real Estate Agent from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
    Replied about 5 years ago
    My last two inspections were a waste of money. My normal guy was on vacation so I used my agents recommendation. He didn’t find anything besides the super obvious. Lesson learned, always make sure you have a back up on your team and don’t use one of those inspection companies. Even though I would recommend an inspection, I think it’s more valuable to walk through with your contractor. Or make sure the contractor shows up for the inspection. One of my better experiences was when I had my contractor and inspector walk through a 100 year home. Both of them saw so many problems we didn’t negotiate a new price. We just walked away.
    Daria B. Rental Property Investor from Gainesville, FL
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Joshua- Thanks for this article. I have put an offer in (waiting) on a property “as is”. In your article you said even with an “as is”, after the inspection there can be re-negotiations on price. How can getting a lower price be achieved when the offer “as is” assumes the buyer has submitted an offer relative to the “seen” condition? Albeit the inspection will / may uncover the unseen, other than the buyer all others will look at “as is” to be no concessions. Thanks