Should I Get A Professional Home Inspection in San Antonio?

In any large purchase, the buyer should always do whatever possible to protect their investment.  A home is likely the biggest purchase an individual will make in their life, therefore, it is essential to do as much diligence as possible prior to purchasing the property.  A professional home inspection completed by a reputable home inspector, should tell you nearly everything that is wrong with the property with items ranging from simple “pro-tip” suggestions to immediate repairs recommended for safety concerns.  Ultimately, it is up to the buyer if a professional home inspection gets done.  For a few hundred dollars and a few days’ time, the buyer can gain the potential for renegotiation of the sale price and the piece of mind knowing that he/she is purchasing a home in good working order. Otherwise, unknown problems could lurk throughout the property, eventually costing the buyer thousands in repairs should he/she choose to pass on a home inspection.

What is a Professional Home Inspection?

A professional home inspector is an individual who has been trained and certified to assess the condition of systems within a home.  A home inspection must be conducted by a professional home inspector.  They are trained to look for specific items within a home that can be dangerous or affect the integrity of the property.  While a contractor of sorts could find most things wrong with a property, a property inspector is much more thorough and worth the expense. A professional home inspection is ordered and paid for by the buyer.  It is likely that the buyer’s real estate agent will order the inspection on the buyer’s behalf. 

Once a property is under contract with purchase price and terms agreed upon by the buyer and seller, the contract will then usually enter an “option period” during which the buyer has time to perform their due diligence on the property.  A typical option period lasts about 10 days, although this is negotiable.  The professional home inspection is done during the option period. 

Property inspectors in San Antonio have a high-level working knowledge of building codes, such as for electrical systems, HVAC, or hot water heater requirements.  For example, on a property that I recently had for sale, the property inspector found an electrical outlet in the kitchen that was labeled GFCI but was not wired correctly to be GFCI.  Yes, this should have been caught by the electrician (and me!) prior to the inspection, but it is the inspector’s job to complete such tasks and find what is wrong.  An electrical outlet without a GFCI will work just fine, but per electrical code, an electrical outlet near a water source, such as the kitchen sink, must be GFCI.  In this case, the buyer was made aware and it can be fixed.

What are the Benefits a Professional Home Inspection in San Antonio?

Following a professional home inspection in San Antonio you will receive a report that states the findings from the inspection.  The report will state everything that the inspector observed to be a concern ranging from a leaking faucet to a crack in a wall indicating a foundation problem.  It is strongly recommended to have an inspection conducted on the property because the inspection gives you a very clear view of what is wrong with the property you are buying. 

A professional home inspection in San Antonio gives you, the buyer, leverage in the deal.  If there are any deficiencies in the house, you have the opportunity during your option period to renegotiate with the seller to have these items repaired, request a price reduction or even cancel the contract without penalty.  The buyer may even choose to accept the property as-is and move forward knowing the deficiencies of the property.  A professional home inspector knows where to look for problems and safety concerns within a home.  From the roof to the foundation, they can see problems and recommend repairs or further inspection if needed. 

Is it OK to Waive a House Inspection?

If you choose to not get a professional house inspection in San Antonio you run the risk of purchasing a home that could have significant problems appear once you are the owner.  Such problems could be electrical, plumbing, roofing, or even termites – all of which can be extremely costly to fix.  A professional home inspection is a way of protecting you and your investment and is certainly worth the time and money.

Waiving the opportunity for a professional home inspection is music to the ears of any seller since the seller would not be required to make any repairs or lower the price due to the condition of the house.  This certainly would sweeten the deal from the seller’s perspective but in most cases, the seller would be expecting an inspection. 

In a competitive market, waiving a professional home inspection in San Antonio could give you an edge but I wouldn’t recommend that this be your first bargaining chip.  It would be better to offer a higher purchase price and then still get the inspection.  This would help protect your purchase.  You will be flying blind without a home inspection and the costs of repairs that you will be responsible for once you are the owner could be significantly greater than the additional amount you added to your offer price.  Every house has something wrong with it and it is the inspector’s job to find those things.  Surprises can be very costly!

For homebuyers looking to buy their homestead I would never recommend waiving a professional home inspection.  As mentioned above, doing so opens the buyer up to significant risk.  The house could literally go up in flames or collapse the day after closing if they chose to not get the house professional inspected.  If the buyer is willing to risk their investment or safety because they are afraid of losing the house to another buyer, then they will need to think long and hard about the tradeoffs of not getting the inspection done.  As I mentioned before, it may be a better idea to come in with a stronger offer price and do the inspection.  Otherwise, you may want to consider finding another house.

Keep in mind that if there are real observable problems with the house, you may not be able to get the property insured, which may result in you not getting mortgage for the property.  For example, if the roof shows signs of age or is missing shingles the insurance company may deny coverage and the whole deal could fall apart because you then will not be able to get financing.  This nearly happened to me once!

As an investor and professional house buyer I never get the properties I purchase inspected professionally.  The reason for this is because I often walk through the property with my contractor who helps me identify things that need repair or replacement.  If I need to get further information, I may call in a foundation expert, electrician or plumber to provide additional information regarding needed repairs.  Often the houses I purchase need significant repairs and I assume the worst and that I will have to repair more than what is visible.  I protect myself in cases like this buy making conservative, fair offers and also by allowing for a contingency in my repair budget. 

The only circumstance in which I would recommend not getting a professional home inspection is for a professional house buyer looking to buy the property with cash.  A professional house buyer will likely not be buying the property with a conventional mortgage.  The property can be insured with a builder’s policy in a case such as this.

What Does a Professional Home Inspection Cost?

The price of a professional home inspection in San Antonio varies by company and location but a typical inspection can range from $300-$500 which includes the report.  Further inspections by specific experts may be required as well.  For example, if the property has a septic tank, a pool, water well or possible foundation problems then experts should be called in to inspect these items as well.  It may be free to inspect your foundation (they want your business later!), but inspections for septic, water well and pool could be an additional few hundred dollars.

A pool in perfect condition could be a real bonus in your mind.  But a pool that is not in good condition can be a money pit.  It can cost thousands of dollars to repair a pool and about the same abandon it and fill it.  Regardless, a pool inspector can tell you what’s wrong with the pool and give you another point of renegotiation.

How Can a Buyer Protect Themselves if they Don’t Get a Professional Home Inspection?

If a buyer chooses to waive the home inspection, I would recommend asking the seller a lot of questions.  Such as:

  • When was the roof last replaced? Are you aware of any leaks in the roof?
  • Are you aware of any electrical problems?  How old is the electrical system (only relevant for houses 30+ years old) Is there any knob and tub wiring in the house (if built prior to 1940)?  Any aluminum wiring (if built prior to mid-1970s)?
  • Are you aware of any leaks or sewage drainage problems?
  • Are you aware of any foundation problems?  Do you (buyer) observe any cracks in the walls, ceilings, floor or exterior walls?
  • Are you aware of any problems with the appliances?
  • When was the HVAC system last replaced?  When was it serviced?  Are you aware of any heating or cooling problems?
  • When was the hot water heater replaced?
  • Are you aware of any termites or other insects problems?

The older the house, the more questions that should be asked.  An older house (prior to 1978) could have lead paint, asbestos, aluminum wiring, knob and tube wiring or a host of other problems –foundation, termites, wood rot to name a few.

Also, be sure to walk through the house a few times and even bring a contractor or a handy man friend as a second set of eyes.  You will see new things every time you walk through.  Some items will not be a big deal, such as a leaking faucet.  Sure it will slowly cost you money but it’s easily fixed.  Other items will be a big deal.  For example, if you observe 2-prong electrical outlets, you may need to prepare to have the entire house rewired – a VERY costly job!

Conclusion

As a homebuyer you should plan on having your future home in San Antonio professionally inspected.   It will bring you piece of mind knowing that you are aware of most of the house’s deficiencies and can negotiate to have repairs done or plan to repair certain elements of the house as soon as possible. 

When I purchased my homestead, I reviewed the report carefully.  I wanted to understand exactly what was going on with the house I was about to purchase and use as my family’s home.  I knew exactly what was wrong with the house before I bought it.  There are still some items on the report that have not been repaired.  Some of these items don’t worry me at all.  Other items are on my to do list.  Some items definitely had to get fixed prior to closing or at least gave me a strong renegotiating stance.  For example, my house had cracks in some walls, which indicated foundation problems.  The foundation repair was $10,000.  I was able to get the price reduced by $10,000!  Had I not had the house inspected I would have overpaid for the house and still had to pay for the foundation repair.

In my line of work, professional home inspections work against me.  However, I have adjusted my point of view regarding home inspections.  Some of the houses I buy for cash I will fix them up and resell them to a homestead buyer.  I like home inspections because they catch items that may have been overlooked during the construction process.  Ultimately, I want all of my buyers to feel safe in their new house and that they got a great house for their money.  I often don’t push back much when the buyer renegotiates for some repairs because I want to sleep well knowing that I did whatever I could to make the house safe and comfortable for the buyer.

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