Should I have a Home Inspection?

This question comes up often with Buyers considering an offer on a property. In Ontario in 2016,2017,2018 the 'sellers market' means that many Buyers are competing with other buyers to purchase a property. When there are multiple offers on a property, the conditions (specifically the LACK of conditions) attached to the offer can often determine which is the most attractive offer to the Seller. A Seller wants the most money for the least hassle and risk. A good price with little or no conditions is usually the most attractive. Little risk for the right price usually wins the bidding war!

When Buyers ask me about home inspections, I will respond with questions of my own:
  • Are you completely comfortable with what you know about the property/building you are considering buying? Are there unanswered questions you have about it?
  • Do you understand that there may be some details and features that a home inspector may be able to identify that you may not have identified already?
  • Do you understand that the purpose of a home inspection is to give you an opinion on the basic condition of the subject property, and give you more information to make an informed choice to purchase or not.
I recommend that Buyers get a home inspection on a purchased property, even if there has been one done as pre-inspection by the Seller. I also suggest they use a good home inspector with some experience, certification, and expertise with properties similar to what they are looking at. Some inspectors are experienced with new construction, century homes, rural properties, waterfront cottages, commercial buildings... and others are not. 

Your realtor may recommend or give you a name (or 2) of a home inspector. Feel free to do your own homework, talk with a few different people and make your own choice. Remember, the inspector is doing a visual inspection, and cannot move much furniture, open up the walls, etc. Often the realtor/agent will know the inspector and have one they know and trust. Ask the realtor/agent if they receive any money for referring the inspector. They CAN receive referral fees legally, for referring professionals to their clients. That may influence your decision to work with that particular inspector or no. (I personally will NOT take referral fees to recommend or refer inspectors -- seeing that as a potential conflict-of-interest)

If you decide to have an inspection, you can also choose to do the inspection yourself, or bring in a contractor, friend, family member to help. Remember that it is a visual inspection, so you cannot remove items from the property, damage anything, etc. The property still belongs to the Seller, not you, and should be treated well. 
A good, professionally run home inspection is worth the $400-700 cost (depending on size/scope of inspection). At best you will learn lots about the property/buildings you are purchasing, at worst you will discover something that saves you huge future costs, and keep you from purchasing a problem property.