The average home inspection cost is usually between $300 to $500, says Realtor.com. That said, the price can vary depending on the size and age of the home and where it’s located. Regardless of the cost and the fact that home inspections aren’t required, homebuyers should always hire a home inspector to do a thorough examination of a house before closing on the sale.
Sometimes home buyers will be tempted to waive home inspections, either to make their bid stand out in a competitive housing market or simply to avoid the extra time and expense. But that is rarely a good idea. The cost of a home inspector is a minor price to pay to know what you’re getting into before you commit to buying a new house.
Read on to learn about the factors that contribute to home inspection costs, what certified home inspectors look for, and why a home inspection is so important.
How much does a home inspection cost?
According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the price of a home inspection can range anywhere from $300 to $1,000 or more. But where you live, the square footage of the home, and how old it is all have an impact on the total cost of a home inspection.
Obviously, the larger the property, the more time it takes to inspect the home, which can increase the cost. However, some inspectors may just charge a flat fee up to a certain size — say, 1,500 square feet — then incrementally raise the cost of a home inspection for larger homes.
Older home inspection costs can also increase based on the fact that it may take extra time for the home inspector to make sure the house doesn’t need expensive repairs to bring it up to code. Older homes can also have a lot of quirks (like strange basements) you won’t find with newer home construction.
The average cost of a home inspection may also vary depending on the experience of the inspector. After all, you’ll likely pay more for professional inspectors with 20 years of experience versus one with only a few years under their belt.
How long does a home inspection take?
For an average home inspection, expect it to take about two to three hours to complete, barring any major issues that may take more time, testing, or require additional inspections.
In addition, larger properties will take longer to inspect than a small condo or mobile home, for example. Not only is there more square footage to cover, but there may also be more bathrooms or more than one HVAC system, too. And, again, older homes will likely take longer as well.
If you’re satisfied with the home’s condition once the home inspection is complete, you can button up your financing. To make sure you find the best mortgage for your home, take a look at our comparison tool below.
Why you need a home inspection
As mentioned, a home inspection is not usually required by a mortgage lender, but it is the best way for a potential buyer to gain an understanding of the property’s condition. After all, when you find a house you want to buy, chances are you don’t have the time or requisite expertise to perform a thorough inspection of your own.
Even if the seller listed the house to be sold “as-is,” meaning they’re not willing to make any repairs, it’s still important to have a professional home inspection done. Say the inspection report reveals previous leaks, for instance. That may not be a deal breaker for you, but it could be enough to get the seller to lower the final selling price.
“All buyers should have a home inspection performed, whether the home is being sold ‘as-is’ or not. Inspections can uncover issues that even a seller might not be aware of, and this can be leveraged in negotiations for the buyer,” says Maureen McDermut, a realtor at Sotheby’s International-Montecito.
On the other hand, the home inspection could find extensive water damage, faulty wiring in the electrical system, or major problems with the home’s structure. In those cases, the potential home buyer may want to reconsider the deal.
“Structural issues can be deal breakers, specifically foundation problems. These are usually very expensive problems that many buyers won’t want to deal with the hassle. Depending on the seller, they may cover the cost or lower their asking price, but this can be a contentious issue,” says McDermut.
The home inspection process
Once your offer on a house is accepted, you’ll hire a home inspector to come to the house and give it a thorough examination. They will visually examine the house from roof to basement and everything in between and then provide you with a home inspection report of their findings.
“A home inspector will typically look at the condition of the foundation, roof, plumbing, electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, and the home’s overall structure. They will also check for any signs of water damage, mold, or pest infestations,” says Mindy Price, a broker at eXp Realty.
While there are hundreds of small things, home inspectors will check — 1,600 different items, according to the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) — the major points of home inspection coverage include the following.
- Heating and air conditioning system
- Electrical system
- Windows and doors
- Basement or crawl space
- Walls, floors, and ceilings
A day or two after the home inspection, you’ll receive a detailed report which includes everything the home inspector looked at and what they found. The inspection report should also include pictures of any problems the inspector finds.
Depending on where you live, the age of the house, and other factors, you may also need some specialized inspections. Here are a few common special inspections you may need to consider.
- Termite inspection
- Radon testing
- Mold testing
- Paint lead testing
- Testing for water quality
- Checking for rodent infestation
“It’s always a good idea to check with your real estate agent or attorney to see if there are any additional considerations specific to your state or region,” says Price.
You may also need to call in a specialist if the inspector finds something that is beyond their scope of expertise. For instance, if the inspector uncovers major electrical problems, you might need to hire a licensed electrician to weigh in on the problem. Or if the home inspector finds problems with the foundation, you may need to enlist the help of a structural engineer to assess the necessary repairs.
How to proceed with the home inspection report
Once you’ve received the inspection report, you should talk it over with your agent to determine how to proceed with the home purchase. In many cases, there will be no major problems and you can schedule your closing date.
“It’s important to remember that a home inspection is not a guarantee of a perfect home — it is simply a way to identify any potential issues that may need to be addressed,” says Price.
But sometimes the inspector will find major problems that may prompt a renegotiation on the purchase price or may cause a buyer to back out of the deal, says Adie Kriegstein, a licensed real estate salesperson at Compass Real Estate.
“Some of the more common examples of deal breaks include structural damage, unsafe conditions, environmental hazards, water issues, and pest infestations,” she says. “Buyers should work with their real estate agent to negotiate any repairs or concessions with the seller and ensure that any agreements are documented in writing.”
Who pays for the home inspection, buyer or seller?
The buyer is usually responsible for paying the home inspection costs, and the fee is usually paid at the time of service. (Home inspection costs aren’t usually rolled into the buyer’s closing costs like other expenses in the home-buying process.)
However, in some cases, like in a buyer’s market, a buyer may request that the home seller cover the home inspection cost. This could be a negotiating tactic if the seller is very motivated to sell or might just be a way to save money for the buyer.
Keep in mind, though, that it’s in your best interest to hire the home inspector yourself — and to be present for the home inspection — so you get the most value from the home inspection process, advises Kriegstein.
“This will allow them to not only see firsthand any potential issues or problems but to ask the inspector while on location about the issues discovered,” she explains. “Further, it gives the buyer an opportunity to learn about the home’s systems and maintenance requirements, which can be useful information for future homeownership.”
How do I choose a professional home inspector?
Your realtor is a good place to start when you’re in need of a professional home inspector. However, you can also do the research yourself or get referrals from friends who’ve been through an inspection. In general, you want someone with extensive experience in your area who is also a member of a professional organization of home inspectors.
Organizations such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), ASHI, and NAHI all provide training programs for professional inspectors. They also require completion of continuing education, which keeps home inspectors up-to-date with state regulations and other important issues. You might also want to ask the inspector for a sample report so you can get an idea of how thorough the inspection will be.
Should the current homeowner be present at the home inspection?
There are some mixed reviews on whether the home seller should attend the inspection. For example, the seller may be able to explain some of the home’s issues or point out access points or the location of utilities to the inspector. However, most experts agree that it’s best for only the buyer to be present when the property is inspected.
“A seller is usually not present during the inspection. Having the seller present can not only make the buyer feel uncomfortable or pressured but [the seller] may want to prevent the inspector from giving an objective assessment of their home’s condition,” Kriegstein points out.
What is the difference between home appraisals and home inspections?
Oftentimes these two terms can be confused, but they’re not the same. For one, the home appraisal is required by mortgage lenders to assess the current value of the home, not to get into the nitty gritty of each home system.
By contrast, home inspections are not required, and they don’t make any attempt to value the house. Instead, the home inspection is something a potential buyer is simply strongly encouraged to have done so they can be more aware of what they’re buying. On the other hand, it could help potential buyers decide this isn’t the house for them based on what the inspection uncovers.
- On average, home inspections cost between $300 and $500. However, this can vary a lot depending on the location, size, and age of the home.
- The home inspection cost is worth it to have professional home inspectors assess the house’s structural integrity, HVAC, plumbing, electrical systems, safety issues, and more.
- Home inspections aren’t typically required but should be considered a necessary part of the home-buying process.
- Home buyers would be wise to include a home inspection contingency in their home purchase agreement. This way, if the inspector finds major problems, the potential buyers can back out without penalty.
View Article Sources
- Home Page — International Association of Certified Home Inspectors
- Home — American Society of Home Inspectors
- Home Inspections — National Association of REALTORS
- FHA Roster Appraisers — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- What Is The Best Way To Prepare For an Inspection? — SuperMoney
- No Response From Buyer After a Home Inspection: What Can You Do? — SuperMoney
- How Often Do Contingent Offers Fall Through? — SuperMoney
- Due Diligence vs. Earnest Money: What’s the Difference? — SuperMoney
- How Long is an Appraisal Good For? — SuperMoney
- Cash to Close vs. Closing Costs: What’s the Difference? — SuperMoney