Would you ever buy a property without an inspection?

93 Replies

I’m about to purchase a property where everything has been replaced in the last 4 yrs (roof, furnace, AC, siding, windows, kitchen, floors, plumbing, ect.) the previous owner did all the work himself since he is a carpenter. I know an inspection is always the smart thing to do, but I am debating on foregoing the inspection so that the deal can get done. I told the seller I want an inspection and he is totally cool with it and does not believe anything is wrong with the place since it is so new. What are your thoughts?
Get the inspection. It's not worth saving the $500 to risk a poor investment. I would also make sure, since he did the work himself, that all permits were pulled, inspected, and closed.

My branch manager last week said something interesting. He has gone to over 4,000 inspections in his career. And not a single time did an inspector find anything of signifigance that everyone else involved couldnt clearly see with their own eyes.

You can either clearly see the problem....or you cant, and if you cant see it, its not like the inspector has xray vision.

If I was buying locally and could see it myself then eventually I probably would skip it but since I’m not then I will pay someone else to do it. Plus where in buying they’re really cheap typically 250-300

@Alec McGinn if he did major work like plumbing and hvac, he should have pulled work permits so the city can inspect the work and make sure it is up to code. You can check for applied and open permits at the construction dept at the local city hall.
@Russell Brazil your branch manager must be the luckiest man alive! I have not looked at nearly 4000 houses and I've walked from 2 based on a home inspection. One with a sewer/water issue and one with a termite issue. Now both of these issues were ultimately found by a specialized inspector, but it was suggested that these inspections were performed by the initial inspector. A $400 inspection saved me $10,000 + in each case.
Originally posted by @Jason D. :
@Russell Brazil your branch manager must be the luckiest man alive! I have not looked at nearly 4000 houses and I've walked from 2 based on a home inspection. One with a sewer/water issue and one with a termite issue. Now both of these issues were ultimately found by a specialized inspector, but it was suggested that these inspections were performed by the initial inspector. A $400 inspection saved me $10,000 + in each case.

 Every property in the midatlantic has termite issues, so that wouldnt stop someone here from buying here. This would also fall under anyone involved seeing the termite damage. We also do not do sewer inspections here typically.

Reasons I contemplate not doing the inspection:
I am already getting a good price (below asking) on the property (good for my market)

The seller did very good work throughout the entire house on his own. Property is mint and we’ll taken care of.

He is welcoming an inspection and confident nothing would be found.

Seller is a good blue collar family man.

I do not have a lot of cash on hand and could put the money toward some equity. (Landscape and add 4th bedroom)

I have purchased about 10 houses that I have flipped. I have gotten zero inspections.

One reason for this is that I’m a licensed architect. Furthermore, I typically buy properties that need significant work, so I can make some assumptions. If you are planning to replace the HVAC, it doesn’t really matter the condition.

That being said, you should probably have it inspected. Otherwise there may be a surprise or two you weren’t planning to deal with.

The only time I wouldn’t get an inspection is if the house is a near-gut and most everything is being replaced and is budgeted for. No need to inspect things that are being replaced.

I find newer houses and renos often have more issues and shortcuts. $500 or so for a good inspection is money well spent.

I use inspections to negotiate price reductions, especially to a bank...did, not buying as of late. IMO inspectors just flag questionable areas like roof or foundation and recommend getting an expert opinion. If you are buying at auction or in a multiple bid situation, you really need to be able to make a bid not contingent on an inspection...to anticipate your ballpark costs based on what you see, adding in enough wiggle room

@Alec, since you are not familiar with all the components in construction, it's wise to hire a professional inspector to check your investment... especially with items that are not visible such as in the attic or crawlspace.

@Alec McGinn

You should get the inspection.

We regularly make no-contingency, all-cash lowball offers on properties. I am a home improvement contractor and have a lot of experience doing this.

You will never find a seller other than a professional selling for top dollar who will welcome an inspection.

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

My branch manager last week said something interesting. He has gone to over 4,000 inspections in his career. And not a single time did an inspector find anything of signifigance that everyone else involved couldnt clearly see with their own eyes.

You can either clearly see the problem....or you cant, and if you cant see it, its not like the inspector has xray vision.

I haven't been through anywhere near 4k inspections, but I share that sentiment. Additionally, the inspectors waive all their liability for not doing what you hire them to do, which is find issues that are not obvious. 

BUT...

Obvious isn't so much so to many folks. And that reflects on if those folks should be buying certain properties in a certain condition to begin with. Many shouldn't be, but they do, so I guess an inspector is a good way to put them in their place and readjust the level they "believe" they are at.

My main use of a home inspector isn't to actually uncover issues, but rather to write up an "official" report to lean on the sellers with and get them to lower their price. However, I certainly don't need to know that "Outlet polarity is reversed and presents a potential shock and fire hazard. It is strongly recommended the electrical system be reviewed by a licensed and competent electrician." Which is 90% of what the reports consist of every single time.

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

My branch manager last week said something interesting. He has gone to over 4,000 inspections in his career. And not a single time did an inspector find anything of signifigance that everyone else involved couldnt clearly see with their own eyes.

You can either clearly see the problem....or you cant, and if you cant see it, its not like the inspector has xray vision.

 that's too funny... we have clients getting home inspections on brand new builds every single time.. and there is always a honey do or punch list.. and sometimes things are missed.. reverse polarity... missed GFI  hot water installed backwards.. hot water in toilet

and then picky code things.. for most folks I think its a good choice .. if they don't and something is wrong they will never hear the end of you should have got an inspection comments.

Originally posted by @Alec McGinn :
I’m about to purchase a property where everything has been replaced in the last 4 yrs (roof, furnace, AC, siding, windows, kitchen, floors, plumbing, ect.) the previous owner did all the work himself since he is a carpenter. I know an inspection is always the smart thing to do, but I am debating on foregoing the inspection so that the deal can get done. I told the seller I want an inspection and he is totally cool with it and does not believe anything is wrong with the place since it is so new. What are your thoughts?

To your original question - I've sold properties where we only looked at the address and didn't even see the exterior, much less the interior. So an inspection isn't needed in all cases.

It will depend on the type of property you are buying and at what price. If you are buying a remodel and at a premium, you should get an inspection so the inspector can point out everything they missed, like a punch-list in new construction. After all, you are paying for a totally remodeled property.

But if you are buying a property in poor condition, hopefully you have the necessary knowledge to take on that type of work. An inspection in that case will be futile - IE they'll tell you you need the plumbing inspected by a licensed plumber, but if the house needs replumbed anyhow, why bother inspecting it? So if your job will be rehabbing based on $/sq ft, its likely not necessary.

90%+ of issues that come up in an inspection will be ignored by the buyer. HOWEVER, the inspection can uncover some pretty important issues that could cost you a lot of money.

I have a guy who does investor "consultations" instead of inspections. He covers all the big ticket items like the roof, foundation, electrical, HVAC, etc.

There was one home we had under contract, and his consultation discovered that the breaker box was one of those Federal Pacific breaker boxes, which is a known fire hazard. He also noted that the wiring was aluminum, which is another known fire hazard. And by the way, my client was not convinced about the value of an inspection. I had to talk him into it. If we had not done that "consultation" we would not have known about the fire hazrds.

The cost to replace the breaker box and rewire the house would have been something like $20,000. I tried to renegotiate the price, but the seller wouldn't budge. So I blew up the deal. I was not going to have my client buy this firetrap.

I know basic things to look for, but an inspector will crawl under the house and sniff out issues I wouldn’t see.

Like others mentioned, you can use the third party independent findings as leverage for negotiating the price further, or at least have a punch list of things to fix.

It’s worth having an inspector on your team that knows your threshold for repairs and what you’re looking for or don’t want to undertake. Good luck.

In general, if you are wondering if you should get an inspection you should.

If you believe the property is in excellent condition (it sounds like you do) you should get the inspection. If your expectation is wrong, no inspection could be a very costly mistake. Bad Risk-Reward in my opinion.

If you believe the property to be in very poor condition and plan to do a bunch of work, then possibly no inspection depending on your level of comfort and experience.

Originally posted by @Alec McGinn :
I’m about to purchase a property where everything has been replaced in the last 4 yrs (roof, furnace, AC, siding, windows, kitchen, floors, plumbing, ect.) the previous owner did all the work himself since he is a carpenter. I know an inspection is always the smart thing to do, but I am debating on foregoing the inspection so that the deal can get done. I told the seller I want an inspection and he is totally cool with it and does not believe anything is wrong with the place since it is so new. What are your thoughts?

If you are using a bank for financing, get an inspection.

If you are paying cash get an inspection.

If you are doing Subject To or a Wrap, forget the inspection and close the deal before someone else gets the deal. 

I only buy using Subject To & Wraps and I never get an inspection. If the house is standing, I'm good with it. It's all "ball park" negotiated into the offer. My offer reflects the fact that the house isn't perfect because otherwise they'd put t in the MLS. I buy only "off market".