Buying a home is stressful enough when everything is in order, why add to the uncertainty by skipping your home inspection? What looks like the dream deal on paper could easily turn into a nightmare if home buyers fail to get all the facts.
Why Home Buyers May Skip Inspection
The higher the sense of urgency related to a sale, the more tempting it may be to move past formalities like inspections. Those buying in competitive markets may try remove road blocks, both to create incentive and to influence the seller’s response to an offer. Some may even be sufficiently tempted by a low price believing the deal to be worthwhile regardless.
When You Waive a Home Inspection, Many Rights Go With It
When buying a home without an inspection, you are essentially making the purchase "as is." In other words, when you sign a home contract that does not include a contingency for issues found during an inspection, you agree to take responsibility for any defect with the dwelling regardless of the cost and seriousness of the issue. Later, if the worst arises, you have no recourse.
What Can Go Wrong if the Inspection is Waived
The reason nearly every contract written specifies a contingency for problems found during an inspection is that some of the worst issues with a dwelling may not be visible to the untrained eye. In some cases, sellers even intentionally mask serious problems like termites or water damage. Trained inspectors find these issues before a buyer is saddled with a huge financial loss from what should have been a sound investment.
Inspections in the Home Contract but Not Tied to the Sale Give You No Recourse
A buyer may obtain permission to hire an inspector even if the sale is not contingent on the findings. Legally speaking, however, the results provide information only. If problems are found in time you may still be able to cancel the sale. This is by no means guaranteed, however, and the home inspection findings cannot be used in these cases.
State Disclosure Laws Provide Limited Protection
In some states certain issues must, by law, be disclosed to a potential buyer regardless of home inspection status. The types of issues home buyers may be protected from include earthquakes, flood zones, and air, water and ground pollution. Do not count on this protection, however. The laws vary by state and apply only to the agent, who cannot disclose what he has not been told.
Federal Laws Protect Buyers From Lead-Based Paint When Buying a Home
In only one case does federal law provide recourse when you waive an inspection. If a dwelling was built prior to 1978, the seller must disclose any knowledge of lead-based paint. The law also requires that sellers allow potential buyers to have older homes tested. You may waive this right by stating so in your home contract, but you agree not to seek legal recourse if lead-based paint is later found.
It May be a Bargain, But it is Rarely Worth The Risk
General contractors buying a home for renovation and others with insider knowledge may sometimes come out unscathed, but even the most savvy professional can get burned by the unexpected. For home buyers without insider knowledge, signing a home contract without an inspection contingency is simply too risky.
Ready to purchase a home? Check out other factors to consider beside the asking price.