Property Inspections: Why They’re Vitally Important & How to Get the Most Out of Yours

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While getting a property inspection done on a property you are thinking about purchasing may seem like a total nightmare, the property inspection is arguably the absolute most important thing you can do as part of your due diligence.

Question: What are the costliest expenses of owning an investment property?

Answer: 1. Unexpected repairs, and 2. Bad tenants (if a rental property).

The expense of bad tenants — well, that’s a topic for a whole other article (and potentially a long one, at that). Unexpected repairs, though… here we go!

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The Purpose of Getting a Property Inspection

Don’t make me say it out loud… okay, fine I’ll say it. The purpose of getting a property inspection is to confirm the true condition of the property before you buy it. Yes, I know, it’s a bit obvious what the property inspection does. I say it, though, because it ties into a lot of smaller facts that surround the whole point of knowing the true condition of the property. Also, did you notice that bolded word there — before? That is a key word to remember.

I’m amazed at how many times I’ve heard people asking if they should have a property inspection done on a property they are thinking of buying. I’ve also been amazed at how many people ask how the numbers on a property sound, but when they describe the property and the numbers, they are only guessing at what needs fixing on the property. Umm… I mean, yeah, when you are first looking at a property, you are probably going to run rough numbers through your head so you can take a first wag at knowing whether or not it will be a good deal, but if you are to the point of asking other people to go over your analysis of the property in order to get their opinions on the deal, you need more concrete numbers!

Getting a property inspection on a property is the best way to get at least a working idea of what repairs will have to go into the property. Don’t for one second take this lightly because repairs can be extremely expensive! I don’t care if you are buying a property to flip to have as a rental property, to have as your own, anything — if you are buying a property of any kind, get a property inspection. If you are buying an investment property, the bottom line has everything to do with how much money you make on the property, and how much money you make is directly connected to how much you have to pony up in repairs.

How to Find a Property Inspector

As with anything, I’d first recommend asking for referrals from fellow investors who work in the market you are in. The BiggerPockets Forums are perfect for this. If you can’t find any referrals, don’t hesitate to look on Yelp. I use Yelp for just about everything, and property inspectors are no exception. But if you can’t get a referral and Yelp isn’t giving you much, just Google home inspectors in your area and get a list of local inspectors. Then start calling each one.

Find out how much they charge, if they work specifically in the neighborhood you need them for, what their experience level is, and whatever other questions you want to ask. Also ask their availability. You can ask all the questions you want, but also just listen for their general tone and gauge your own interest and comfort with them. You won’t have to spend a lot of time with your inspector, but as with any customer service related position, it’d be nice to enjoy working with them.

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

As far as what makes a good or bad inspector — well, that one is a little tougher. Obviously a bad inspector is one who doesn’t catch something major during his inspection, and you end up having to pay out for it later. Now, how do you tell who those bad inspectors are? I have no idea. That leads me back to suggesting you get referrals.

If you want to be overly cautious, you could always hire two separate inspectors and pay for two separate reports to make sure everything is caught. I’ve never known of someone to do this, but I certainly don’t think it should be out of the question. Sure, it would be double the cost, but even that total amount is pennies compared to what an unexpected repair could cost.

In terms of determining if an inspector is good or bad, go through the report he gives you pretty thoroughly. You will likely be able to at least get a feel for his level of detail, how honest he’s being (if he’s honest about some pretty big things, he probably doesn’t have a reason to be dishonest about other things), and if you have any questions about his findings, he should be able to explain those easily for you. Inspectors often prefer you not to be there during their inspection, as it can be extremely distracting, but if you are ever at a property while the inspection is being done, you are likely to learn a ton — from a good one at least.

I’ll tell you, the best inspector I ever had was when I was buying turnkey properties, and the inspector absolutely hated this one particular company I was buying from (who are long out of business now). This worked out great for me because he wanted to find every way he could to stick it to the owner, and what better way to do that than to not miss a beat on anything that needed to be fixed because he knew it would be at their expense, not mine? Ha. Okay, maybe that’s not the most helpful for you in terms of finding yourself a good inspector, but funny nonetheless.

What to Do with the Inspection Report

Your inspector goes out there, he gathers all his findings, he puts them in a report, and now you are staring at it. Pretty overwhelming, huh? Maybe, maybe not — just depends on what you were expecting and how detailed the report is.

What you do with this report and what you get out of it depends on what kind of property you are trying to buy. If you are buying a property to flip, this report is going to be crucial in order for you to most accurately determine the cost of what it will take to get this property into flip-able condition. If you are buying the property to be used as a rental property, then it depends on whether you are planning to put work into the house or if you are trying to buy something turnkey or rent-ready. The latter I will get to in a minute. But if you are buying to fix it and hold it, this inspection list will give you a basis for determining how much it will cost you to make this house rent-ready, similar to how it works for flipping a property.

I don’t flip or fix and hold, so I can’t speak to this part accurately, but I’m assuming there will be a certain level of deciphering through this list of items needing repair. That deciphering will entail categorizing each item into (again, just guessing here): seller should fix, buyer (you) should fix once it’s bought, or ignore. Inspectors will usually put every single tiny detail on a report, so some of it may not be a huge thing for you. The bigger question is whether you or the seller should be responsible for fixing certain things. This is probably not a question with a lot of properties because buying properties like foreclosures or any other as-is property isn’t even going to offer you the option to have the seller cover any repairs. But either way, at least know whether it’s a possibility and if it is, always try to get the seller to fix everything you can.

Property Inspections on Turnkey Rental Properties

For any of you turnkey buyers out there, this paragraph should be highlighted and in bold all at the same time. The property inspection on turnkeys is HUGE. Why? Because the whole theory behind a turnkey property is that you are buying a property that needs absolutely no work. Otherwise, why pay more for the property than you would if you were going to do the work yourself? The point of the property inspection in this case is completely opposite of what the flippers and fixers need to get out it, which is an estimate for cost of repairs because the person buying is going to be the one paying that money. You, a turnkey buyer, are not. So the point of the property inspection for you is to confirm the property really doesn’t need any repairs, hence fitting the classification of “turnkey.”

Here’s the kicker, though. The inspection won’t confirm a property not needing repairs! Wait, what? This is what really gets turnkey buyers tangled up and throwing bows. When you, a turnkey buyer, have an inspection done on the property, go into it knowing that there will be items that show up on the report. In fact, there will be a ton of items! In my four year history of being nose-deep in turnkeys, I have only once seen a property inspection come back with only three small items listed on it. That property (which I totally bought!) was a freak of nature. Every other turnkey I’ve seen go under inspection, and that would be at least a hundred at this point, has had easily 15+ items, if not more like 20 or 30. This is normal.

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

But wait! A turnkey property is supposed to be perfect, and the inspection is supposed to confirm it’s perfect, so how can there be so many issues? Good question.

The inspection for turnkeys is not to confirm the property is perfect right then; it’s to confirm what needs to be done in order for it to be perfect.

You aren’t closing on the property right after the inspection, so there is no reason to freak out when items show up as needing repairs. The whole point of the inspection is to identify any last items that need to be repaired in order to get the property in perfect turnkey condition. You will give the report from the inspector to the seller, tell them to fix everything, and they will do it. There may be some things that don’t make sense to do, but if that happens, the seller will let you know. Only after all of those items listed are actually repaired, and you have seen proof of it (whether via picture, video, or a re-inspection), should you close on the property.


  • A property inspection is crucial for any property you buy! No matter what you are doing with it.
  • Never, ever buy a property to flip or fix without having as best an estimate as possible on how much the repairs will cost. Even with the most accurate of estimates, few repairs ever stay under budget, so don’t slack off on that estimate! The property inspection is a critical component in this.
  • Consider unexpected repairs capable of completely blowing any return you may have seen on your property. Let that light a fire under you — get the inspection!
  • If you are buying a turnkey property, don’t freak out when the inspection report comes out. Wait to freak out until the seller says they won’t fix any of it. At that point, you can bail on the property. Don’t bail before.
  • Remember: With any property you buy, any repairs done before you close on a property are expensed to the seller. Any repairs done after you close a property are on you!

Current investors—what are your inspection stories? Any horror stories? Any near-misses saved by an inspection? Any advice as far as inspections go?

Leave me a comment, and let’s discuss!

About Author

Ali Boone

Ali Boone is a lifestyle entrepreneur, business consultant, and real estate investor. Ali left her corporate job as an Aerospace Engineer to follow her passion for being her own boss and creating true lifestyle design. She did this through real estate investing, using primarily creative financing to purchase five properties in her first 18 months of investing. Ali’s real estate portfolio started with pre-construction investments in Nicaragua and then moved towards turnkey rental properties in various markets throughout the U.S. With this success, she went on to create her company Hipster Investments, which focuses on turnkey rental properties and offers hands-on support for new investors and those going through the investing process. She’s written nearly 200 articles for BiggerPockets and has been featured in Fox Business, The Motley Fool, and Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine. She still owns her first turnkey rental properties and is a co-owner and the landlord of property local to her in Venice Beach.


  1. Mark Beno

    Great article, Ali! I know you’ve done some investing here it ATL, which is my market as well.
    Could you PM me some names of inspectors you’ve used?
    Another question for you – would you recommend getting a property inspection for WHOLESALING a house? Otherwise, it’s difficult to estimate the repairs needed, esp. for new investors such as myself. I want to make sure I’m accurate and fair in setting a sales price to a potential cash buyer.
    Thanks again!

  2. Edward Briley

    I make sure that I get a property inspection before I buy any property, even though I know I will basically rebuild it from the ground up. I have been ridiculed in the past for doing so. I also get a termite inspection. I have a home inspector I use, and I don’t require him to generate a report, however, I do follow him around and take notes for myself. I also get a discounted price, because I do not require him to create the report. I pay cash for the homes so a report is not required for the bank. I am someone that has done maintenance work my entire life, but another set of eyes or thinking is worth the cost in my opinion. I also know that when you are looking at a property you want, you may view it through rose colored glasses and not really include the real cost it will take to flip. My home inspector will basically show up within 24 hours after I call him, because many banks will only allow you a couple of days for the inspection to buy a foreclosure from them. He also knows that when I sell the property that I will recommend him to do the home inspection on the property. He realizes that is a pretty much guarantee that I will use him at least once a year. If you flip homes, no matter what the condition is, that you get a home inspection and termite inspection before you invest thousands of dollars of your money into the property. You may be surprised what they find and what you missed. They can also tell you what you will need a building permit for, and when you don’t. How I found mine, is because I had a good agent when I bought my home. The home inspector I use is the one that inspected my private residence when I bought it. He is not afraid to crawl through the attic or under houses, no matter what their condition is. Matter of fact, to express this even further, my termite man is available to me at a small cost to look at a home even before I make an offer on it. He has saved me time and money many times.

    • Ali Boone

      Wow, Edward, your comment is amazing and it sounds like you really have a handle on your flipping processes! You sound totally up on your game and I love what you say about working with the inspector and paying less for no report since you will rebuild anyway and looking through rose colored lenses. Sounds like you’ve nailed it all out! (no pun intended…ha)

  3. Ryan Ball

    I have never had a property inspection on an investment property that did not pay for itself. Either in finding an issue that we did not know about causing us to walk away from a deal or more often finding items that need repaired. We either get the owner to fix the items or give us cash in lieu of repairs. We have a great inspector that we have been consistently using that also verbally provides a lot of comments on the property that is invaluable.

  4. Mindy Jensen

    We always get inspections. Every single time. They run $350-$450 typically, and we also always try to go with the inspector. They can mention something offhanded that can actually be very important.
    Our best save was an inspector who told us about EIFS, or fake stucco. It was a very popular exterior building material for a short time, but if installed incorrectly, could cause water to build up in normally dry places. Where there is water, there is mold. Some homes with incorrectly installed were so bad they were uninhabitable. This bit of information saved us a ton of hassles, and I will never, ever buy a property without an inspection, unless it is a complete tear-down.
    Great article, Ali!

  5. Gregory Zanolini

    I’m a General Contractor and I still would never purchase a property without an inspection. I want that report to present to the seller as proof of various issues. It’s a well spent $400-500. Last year I was purchasing an REO. The inspector found an issue with the septic system but we were not sure of the extent. I withdrew my offer on the property to collect figures on the repair. We figured worst case scenario it would be a 20K sand mound septic rebuild. I ended up with the property for 20K less than my original offer. As it turned out we only needed to replace one tank at a cost of $3,700. But we didn’t know that for sure until we got into it. That inspection sure was worth it.

  6. Great tips here Ali!

    Definitely brings back memories. I remember the inspection reports in very thick binders. Though, I recall there were a few certifications for inspectors which helped in the selection process.

    Regarding inspection stories, my favorite is when sellers already do the legwork and have a few estimates lined up. It’s the ones that are upfront about the repair issues who make my job easier. Those who are not I tend to stay away from!

    Another informative yet entertaining article, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  7. Bruce Silverman

    As an Atlanta based “Hard Money” lender, whose primary focus is rehab lending, we require an inspection on every deal. In fact, we are so busy with pre-approval and draw inspections that we now have a full time inspector on our staff. We won’t do a deal without one….

    • Ali Boone

      Oh, nice Bruce. That’s great you have an in-house one, and I definitely agree to not lend on any property without one! Did you company always do that or was it after investors botched up their loans due to bad estimates that triggered you guys to start that?

  8. Jeffery Hood

    Hi Ali,

    Thanks for the post. While I’m only holding a few investment properties and have had few inspections done, I had an inspection done on a four family I purchased and it was filled with things like “you should really have X checked out further by a professional”… if not electrical, the roof, etc, etc. Didn’t seem that helpful, and it was pretty expensive.

    It seems like every home will have issues to your point, and if your dealing with four units or less, is it your expectation that every comp is perfect so that your property with an inspection report that points out a list of problems should be remedied to bring it to parity? I can’t believe all of the comps are perfect either?? It feels like it’s a shade of grey situation.



    • Daniel Miller

      I have never got a home inspection and everything has been fine. No major issues have come up. The last ten deals I have done we have not done property inspections. I think they are overrated. I make sure that the property does not have knob and tube wiring, has no settlement or foundation issues, is block construction, and the roof is sufficient. Otherwise, I am almost always low-balling so property inspections and contingencies are not beneficial to how I do business.

    • Ali Boone

      Definitely a shade of grey, Jeff. Comps are oftentimes very unreliable. It’s hard to determine quality of properties when comparing them to each other, etc. I work with turnkeys and a lot of times the comps are horrible for them because they are of foreclosed properties that aren’t in half the shape the turnkeys are. So it can get fairly ambiguous. I don’t usually use the inspection much on the comps side, more of just the side of making sure I know of anything wrong with the property that I may potentially have to fix later.

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