Washington, DC

Buying your first home is, for most of us, the biggest investment you’ll ever make.

It makes sense to know what you’re buying before you fork over the funds. Getting the home thoroughly inspected by a trained professional whose job it is to find what’s wrong is a must. But in this competitive seller’s market, how do you protect yourself while still giving yourself the best chance to get the seller to take your offer? Let’s look at the different types of home inspections to consider as you decide what’s the best for you.

  • Traditional Home Inspection — This takes place after the seller has accepted your contract terms and gives you an Inspection Contingency (timeline varies, but 5-7 days is commonplace). You pay the inspector of your choice to look at all systems and to give you a detailed report. You can submit a list of items you’d like the seller to fix or to give you a dollar credit that you can use for repairs. You and the seller go back and forth until you are in agreement. Cost: $350-$750 is common.
  • “In or Out” Home Inspection — More attractive to the seller, a buyer can ask for an Inspection Contingency that allows them to back out, but not negotiate seller-paid repairs. This implies that the buyer is willing to accept deficiencies, but wants the ability to back out only if a major issue comes to light.
  • Pre-Inspection — If the house is likely to be highly contested and with multiple offers, some buyers elect to inspect the home before submitting an offer. This allows them to know the condition of the house ahead of time and to NOT make the contract that they later submit contingent on an inspection. Sellers prefer this because the buyer won’t negotiate for seller-paid repairs or back out during such a contingency. Buyer risks only the expense of the inspection if their offer is not eventually accepted.
  • Walk-And-Talk Inspection — Some inspectors offer a lower priced inspection wherein they fully inspect the property, but do not prepare a detailed report. Buyers attend, take notes and ask questions of their inspector so they know what issues to be aware of, but don’t get a written report. The cost is less (usually $250-$400) and with quicker turn-around for use prior to making an offer.

Working with your realtor to figure out which inspection gives you the most protection AND the best shot of getting your offer accepted is key to finding what’s best for you.

Want to learn more about this and other ways to save money on your home purchase? Check out our Home Buyer Tips Blog.

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