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Avoiding a Big Mistake and Still Being A Competitive Buyer

One really big mistake the house hunters are being talked into is waiving your home inspection.

Why do you need an inspection?

If you hire an experienced exclusive buyer’s agent, you have the backing of people who, collectively, have seen hundreds or even thousands of houses. They have been to a hundred or more home inspections. Exclusive buyer’s agents point out reasons to not buy a house, so you can make an offer with more knowledge than you’d have on your own. However, home inspectors know even more. You need them. Housing is too expensive, and so is housing repair.

Here are some examples of significant money pits that are not obvious to the typical buyer:

  1. A stately 1850s house with a large willow tree in the yard. An inspector noticed that the roots had penetrated the foundation, causing $75,000 in foundation repair.
  2. A 1920s house with a small wet spot where the main beam met the house sill. The house had termites that damaged the sill. The front steps and front door (with side lights) had to be rebuilt. Twenty feet of sill had to be replaced, costing $30,000.
  3. A modern house, built in 2000, with all its original equipment. Everything looks new. But it needed a new roof, a new air conditioner condenser, a new boiler, and a new stove — $45,000.

There are buyers that are naive enough to buy a $600,000+ investment without any professional inspection. As a buyer, you are competing with those people. Our clients always have home inspections. We have tactics that work, often enough, to allow our clients to buy with their right to an inspection intact.

However, if there is a house you love, and there is competition, we are adding another way to protect your rights and keep you competitive.

General condition assessments, when competition is tough

A General Condition Assessment is a consultation from a professional inspector. He or she can check all the potential big-ticket repair areas, so that there are no big surprises after you close. If you have a General Condition Assessment, you can waive your right to a home inspection, since you have the information you need to proceed. A general condition assessment includes:

  1. Roof and exterior structure
  2. Attic and basement structure
  3. Plumbing
  4. Electrical
  5. Heating system

The General Condition Assessment does not replace a full inspection. It is designed to give buyers enough information to purchase, knowing that there are not big-ticket problems ahead.

The upside:

  • You can buy knowing that the big-ticket problems have been ruled out.
  • You are competitive with people naive enough to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a property that could have big-ticket problems.
  • A General Condition Assessment is cheaper and faster than a full home inspection.

The downside:

  • This is an incomplete inspection.
  • You don’t get a report that is like a user’s manual for your house (which is part of a full inspection).
  • You are paying to have the assessment, and there is no promise from the seller that your offer will be accepted.

Pre-Inspection

Another option is a pre-inspection, which is when a house hunter hires a home inspector to do a complete inspection on a house before they make an offer.

The upside:

  • You can buy knowing that the big-ticket problems have been ruled out.
  • You are competitive with people naive enough to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a property that could have big-ticket problems.
  • You get a full inspection, so you know the condition and how to run this house.

The downside:

  • You are paying to have the home inspection, and there is no promise from the seller that your offer will be accepted.

Some properties might be worth it. Ask your agent about it, as you plan your offer strategy.

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An Exclusive Buyer Agent can help you navigate these challenges. Find an agent here.

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Rona Fischman is a founding member of NAEBA. She owns 4 Buyers Real Estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Article Keywords

buyer agent, buyers-agent-home, buying a home, buying a home during a pandemic, Exclusive Buyer Agent, exclusive buyer agents, first time buyer, home buying basics, home inspection, homebuying, making an offer, naeba, rona fischman
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