What good is a home inspection? A lot of good, I can tell you that.

When you write up your initial offer to purchase a property (be it a single-family home or condominium), you and your agent will include at least a couple of buyer’s contingencies. Usually these include 1) a mortgage loan contingency, which gets you out of the contract (and all your money back) if you end up not being able to get a loan; 2) the opportunity to review condo documents, etc., to make sure there’s nothing weird or unusual in the docs; and, 3) the opportunity to have what’s known as a home inspection.

A home inspection is where you pay for a professional to come to the property, at your own cost, to inspect the property, inside and out. In Massachusetts, home inspectors have to be licensed and certified, meaning they have had years of experience inspecting homes.

The home inspector will examine the home, top to bottom, checking pipes, plumbing, structure, and electricity, on the inside, and roof and foundation, on the outside.

The inspector will also go over everything with you – it’s a good way to find out how to turn your hot water heater on and off, for one thing (no, really).

Most of the home inspections I’ve been involved with, there’s been no surprises. Sometimes it makes you feel as though the home inspection is a waste of time, because it seems as though everything is okay.

I’m here to tell you, regardless of whether you are buying a 2000 square foot single-family, or a 400 square foot studio condo, it’s money well spent (a condo will cost you around $350, btw).

The point of a home inspection is to help you discover any problems that weren’t evident when you made your original offer.

What happens after the inspection is up to you. And, the sellers.

At this point, the only thing you have at risk is your deposit money, $1,000. If you decide to pull out of the deal, based on the inspection, you will usually have no problem getting your money back. Regardless, you’re under no further obligation to buy the property, so don’t worry about that. However, if the sellers are stickers, they might try to hold onto $1,000, saying that what the home inspector found was “minor”.

Get your agent on it. He or she should be able to make things happen. Get the seller’s agent in on it, and the seller agent’s boss, too.

Anyway, there’s way too much to discuss in a simple entry.

Suffice it to say, have a home inspection, attend the home inspection, and pay careful attention to what you find.

Most likely, you’ll still want to buy the home you found. Most likely, everything will go fine.

More information: What can home buyers expect sellers to fix? – By Dian Hymer, c/o The Boston Globe

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Updated: January 2018

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