Before You Waive the Inspection Contingency, Consider the Risks

In marketplaces where multiple offers are more common place, there may be a temptation to forgo an inspection to woo the sellers. However, it would behoove a buyer to take some time to learn the risks that can accompany forgoing the inspection contingency when purchasing a home.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) website has an informative FAQ section which addresses commonly asked questions about inspections. Their Facebook Page contains photo examples of what ASHI inspectors find out in the field. While many are humorous looking, the reality is dealing with unexpected problems after purchasing a home is no laughing matter.

Check out this Huffington Post article about a woman who paid $1,000,000 for a home, waived the inspection contingency, and after the transaction closed discovered an enormous mouse infestation. According to the article and accompanying video, the home needs to be torn down to the studs. While this is an extreme example, it illustrates clearly why conducting an inspection prior to purchasing a home is usually in a buyer’s best interest.

If the local real estate market you want to buy in suffers from low inventory, like it is here in the greater Seattle area and Eastside, multiple offers are a reality buyers grapple with. For buyers who are finding that an unwillingness to waive the inspection contingency can be a deterrent to sellers receiving multiple offers, a pre-inspection may be a good option to consider.

What exactly is a pre-inspection? This is an inspection service available to buyers that is conducted before making an offer on a house. It’s not as long, or as detailed, as a regular inspection. During a pre-inspection, which generally lasts an hour to 90 minutes, the inspector examines all the main structural elements and systems. Roof, attic, crawl spaces, foundation, heating and cooling systems, electrical, plumbing… the large components of a home, like these, will be inspected for damage, moisture problems, breakdown and infestations.

In neighborhoods that have more buyers than available inventory, it’s become increasingly popular to invest in a pre-inspection first. While it’s not as thorough, conducting one may give a buyer more confidence to move forward without a full inspection if that waiver would make their offer stronger. “Certainly no one wants the added expense of paying for an inspection on a house where your offer may not be accepted,” Raj Hayden, of Cardinal Home Inspection, shared. However when you consider the risks of forgoing any type of inspection, Hayden said for her it’s always preferable to have as much information going in to the decision making process as is readily available, to minimizing the shock and/or regret later.

Furthermore, during a pre-inspection, while their agent is present, buyers can do the detail leg-work a home inspector usually completes during a full-length inspection. Check out doors and windows. How do they fit into their frames? Do they open and close easily? Check out the appliances that will be staying. How do they work? How noisy are they? Do closet doors ride easily on their rails? Have walls been patched? What is the condition of the cabinetry? Does the carpet in any of the rooms have spots pulling away from under the molding? These details can be easily checked by the buyer while the inspector examines the core of the home.

Now it’s your turn. What has your experience been in a multiple offer situation? Have you invested in a pre-inspection before making an offer on a home?