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10 Reasons to Hire a Home Inspector When Buying Your First Home

Hiring a home inspector is not mandatory when you buy a home. However, a home inspection can be one of the best pre-home buying strategies a home buyer can use. We sat down with Twin Cities home inspector, Dave Kirwin, Kirwin Group Home Inspections, to find out the top 10 tips and reasons to hire an independent home inspector. Hiring a home inspector can save first-time home buyers $100s to $1,000s simply by uncovering a home’s hidden or deferred maintenance problems or severe substandard structural issues.

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Alleviate Home-Buying Riskjessicakirsh/Shutterstock

Alleviate Home-Buying Risk

Buying your first home is likely the most costly purchase you've ever made and it involves a head-spinning amount of details. Hiring an independent home inspector alleviates some of the risk for the 30-year mortgage you are assuming with the purchase of a home.

"We like to think of the home inspection as giving your home a health checkup before you plunge into the purchase agreement," said Dave Kirwin, Kirwin Group Home Inspections. "The biggest risk involved in buying a home is missing the very expensive home repairs that aren't obvious to the untrained eye."

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Make a Confident First Home PurchaseARENA Creative/Shutterstock

Make a Confident First Home Purchase

Hiring a home inspector gives the buyer another chance to review their decision before buying their first home. In this competitive home selling market, signing the purchase agreement without a home inspection means the deal is done and the buyer has no recourse. This is true even for major problems like a leaky roof—for going back on the decision. "We tell our home buyers, the inspection gives you a little breathing room to feel confident about the home. Review the pros and cons, and double check your thought process on the house," Kirwin said. Home sellers would rather sell the house without the home inspection contingency. Yet, with a home inspection, if there is something really wrong with the home, buyers can either renegotiate or cancel the deal and get the earnest money returned.

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Understand the ROI of the Home InspectionFamily Handyman

Understand the ROI of the Home Inspection

Hiring a home inspector costs approximately $400 dollars. The ROI (return on investment) in hiring a home inspector is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of dollars the buyer can save.

"We often find needed repairs costing up to $3,000 to $4,000," Kirwin said. "We recently inspected a home where one corner of the house had settled unevenly. You could feel something wasn't quite right and the room didn't feel plumb. The siding and drywall was patched to mask the cracks. The foundation corner was 4 inches lower than the rest of the house. In this case, the buyer went back to re-negotiate repairs with the seller and the home inspection ended up saving the buyer several thousand dollars." Pay attention to this tip first home buyers!

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Hire the Right Home InspectorT.TATSU/Shutterstock

Hire the Right Home Inspector

The best way to find a good home inspector is to ask friends and family. Find out who in your personal network has had an inspection done. After talking to your personal references, do an online search of home inspectors reviews and online presence. This will relieve some stress when buying your first home.

"We think it's a good idea to interview two or three home inspectors to find out their level of experience and demeanor," Kirwin said.

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Get Input from Your Realtor on Home Inspection NeedsLDprod/Shutterstock

Get Input from Your Realtor on Home Inspection Needs

When buying your first home talk to your Realtor about the home inspection process.  Also, get input about what they think is important for the home inspector to focus on for your specific needs. The Realtor will advise you on the home inspection process. It takes three or four days to get the inspection and then a couple days to get back to the seller with the results.

"Even with the home inspection, the home seller doesn't have to make the repairs or adjust the price of the house, but the buyer then has the choice to buy the house knowing what repairs will cost or to walk away from the house," Kirwin said.

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Itemize Your Inspection List: Radon, Sewer, Chimney Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock

Itemize Your Inspection List: Radon, Sewer, Chimney

Itemize the list of things you want checked during your first home inspection.

"If the home buyer wants specific additional types of things inspected such as radon, sewer, or chimney, it's important to request that from the home inspector beforehand," Kirwin said.

For example, a fireplace or chimney inspection requires a camera on a cable to look into the chimney flue and a radon test requires an electronic monitor.

"If these additional inspection options aren't asked for upfront, the inspector may not be able to schedule and coordinate them for the buyer," Kirwin said.

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Come Prepared: Notebook, Camera, Tape Measure

Come Prepared: Notebook, Camera, Tape Measure

After you've hired your first home inspector, you will most likely have a lot of questions running through your head.

"Get a notebook and write down your questions as they come to you," Kirwin said. "Bring the notebook to take notes, and don't forget to take pictures."

Remember to bring a tape measure. "The tape measure is one item most home buyers forget to bring," Kirwin said.

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Attend the Entire InspectionSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Attend the Entire Inspection

Home buyers should plan on attending the entire inspection. However, some buyers choose to not be present during the inspection. The inspection might be three hours long, but every minute of those hours is spent absorbing new information and allowing the home buyer to look around the house.

"We think one of the most invaluable benefits of hiring a home inspector is for the buyer to learn as much about the home as possible," Kirwin said. "While we are making sure the home is structurally sound, the home buyer gets a chance to experience the house for an extended period of time without interruptions."

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Wear Appropriate ClothingNiyom Napalai/Shutterstock

Wear Appropriate Clothing

A significant amount of time home inspecting is done outdoors.

"Plan on spending at least 30 minutes outside to learn everything there is to know about the home's foundation, siding, windows, landscape grading and other outdoor concerns," Kirwin said. "Wear clothing appropriate for the weather."

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Remember the Most Important Goal of the InspectionMathew Jacques/Shutterstock

Remember the Most Important Goal of the Inspection

Hiring a home inspector means the inspector is looking out for the first home buyer's financial interest. The most important goal and primary purpose of hiring a home inspector is to protect your financial interest.

"We want to make sure first-time home buyers don't get bogged down in cosmetic blemishes — a loose doorknob, a scratch on the floor, a worn light switch or a squeaky hinge," Kirwin said. "These tiny things are $10 to $15 fixes. What we're looking for are the very expensive repairs that aren't obvious, such as structural problems or water damages in the basement."

For cosmetic blemishes, home buyers can check out our guide for the DIY 10 minute home repairs and maintenance.