A few months ago, my clients and I attended an almost perfect home inspection. They were purchasing a classic 1940s Cape Cod that had been meticulously maintained. The only issue the home inspector found was a loose faucet in one of the bathrooms.

Most home inspections find issues with a property.

Even in very well-maintained homes, home inspectors discover problems during the home inspection. We recommend having a home inspection contingency in your contract.

The home inspection is a critical part of the home buying process. Very rarely, usually in competitive situations with newer condos in Washington D.C., my client may waive the right to an inspection. But again, this happens rarely and only when the buyer is comfortable with the condition of the condominium.

In the contract offer, you may include a home inspection contingency. This contingency offers the buyer protection. If the home inspection contingency includes the right to negotiate and the right to cancel, the buyer can get out of the transaction, ask for a credit for repairs or ask the seller to make necessary repairs found during the inspection.

Sometimes, a seller puts a house on the market and sells it “As Is”. This is when a seller makes it clear to all prospective buyers that there will be no negotiating on price or repairs after the home inspection. The buyer does have the option of walking away from the transaction if this has been written into the contract as an option to void.

The BEST home inspections

  • The home inspector tells you what is right and wrong with a home. A great inspector will explain how the major systems work and how to keep your future home in excellent condition.
  • The home inspector works for you, not your real estate agent. The inspector should answer all your questions and offer advice on home maintenance and repair. The inspector should send you the inspection report soon after the inspection. Once received, you will go over the report with your real estate agent and create a list of items for you or the seller to repair. How many other offers, what sales price the buyer offered are two factors considered when negotiating after the home inspection.
  • Home inspections take several hours. If you are buying a large home, the inspection could take up most of a day. Be patient and remember this is an opportunity for you to learn, from an expert, all you can about your new home.
  • If you’re buying a home on well & septic, make sure your realtor writes a separate, and longer contingency period into the contract. Depending on where you are buying your home, well & septic inspectors may need more time to get water results back from a lab.
  • Your realtor should keep track of all contract deadlines and contingency periods. There could be major problems if the contingency deadlines, written into the contract, are overlooked and deadlines come & go.

The WORST home inspections

  • The home inspector does not answer the home buyers questions and rushes through the home inspection. You can avoid this situation by choosing home inspectors recommended by your real estate agent, friends or co-workers.
  • The inspector doesn’t include all pertinent information into the report. This can be exasperating for the home buyer as this information is needed in the home repair negotiations.
  • The home inspector finds major problems with the home. This is both good and bad. Good, because the issue was found before the buyer bought the house. Bad because the buyer paid for a home inspection but may not move ahead with a home purchase. When you are choosing a home inspector, ask if they give discounts to buyers for a second home inspection.

It takes a team of professionals & advocates

This summer, a home inspector was in a finished basement in Washington, DC. As the inspector used his moisture meter to get readings along the walls of the basement he noticed a wet spot in a corner that was clearly a result of water intrusion.
The inspector could not identify where the water was coming from, however the soggy carpet and wet drywall were clear signs of water intrusion.

For the home buyer, this was the last straw. Earlier in the inspection, the inspector found issues with faulty electrical, and major water damage in the attic. The home buyer quickly decided to use the home inspection contingency to void the contract. The buyer spent several hundred dollars for the home inspection and was grateful the home inspector was thorough.

It takes a team of professionals to successfully buy a home. When working with an exclusive buyer agent or broker, you begin the process with an advocate by your side.

Be sure to choose an Exclusive Buyer Agent to help you through all of the intricacies of buying a home. Find an agent here.


Victoria Ray Henderson is a NAEBA member, a licensed Realtor & Exclusive Buyer Broker in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC, and the owner & broker of HomeBuyer Brokerage. Victoria is also the host and producer of our Listen Up Home Buyers podcast.

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