by Dave Twombly, 4 Buyers Real Estate

There are a lot of steps to take when purchasing a home.  Whether it’s a condo in Cambridge or a 2800 square foot ranch in Bedford there are a number of things that have to happen.  Of course, being educated followers of 4 Buyers you know most of these things, but not everybody does.

Before you start your search you have to get pre-approved for a mortgage from a (hopefully reputable) lender.  Then there’s the search.  You may see 6 properties, you may see 60 but once you find the future home of your dreams, things happen quickly.  You make your offer, it gets accepted and then you just get your mortgage and move in right?   (This is where you chime in with “Of course not Dave! You get a home inspection.”)  Those of you who said that get a gold star (and don’t have to continue reading).  Those who didn’t, read carefully.

The home inspection is the single most important step before you buy a property.  Your friendly neighborhood Buyer’s Agent should be able to point out major flaws (the roof is old, there’s water damage here, there is asbestos that needs to be taken care of etc).  A really good Buyer’s Agent can tell you that the floor is sagging and there is deflection in a doorway which is a sign of a foundation sinking etc).   But a home inspector is the licensed expert who can point out things large and small (and often the sum of the small things is more than you want to spend). They can also educate you about how your future home works.

Recently, however, I was out with clients who found a lovely home they wanted to purchase.  They made an offer, it got accepted and we moved onto the inspection.  The inspector started to point out some issues and compile a list (they will give you a full written report of their findings, usually within a day of the inspection). He found two major issues, one knob and tube wiring which is an immediate red flag (more likely, immediate fire work display) and then noticed the foundation, in one corner, had sunk an inch.   When conveying this to the listing agent (and being amazed that there was still knob and tube wiring in the house, which is incredibly antiquated and dangerous) he informed us that the current owners didn’t have the house inspected prior to purchasing.  Now, I might be biased but this blew my mind.  My clients walked away from the house as the issues were too many and too serious (sinking foundations are a deal breaker)

A few houses later, my clients found another (and better) house to purchase. They made an offer, it was accepted and we moved to the inspection.  This house was very solidly built and had no major issues, however we learned from the owner that he also didn’t have a home inspection when he bought the property.    Once again, mind blowing.

Perhaps the sinking foundation will last the years you own the house, or the knob and tube won’t start a fire burning down your dream home.  Me?  That’s not a gamble I’m willing to take.  Seems to me that spending the $500-$600 on a home inspection to protect the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars you are about to invest, is a no brainer.

Hopefully it is for you too.