Are Home Inspections Worth It?
Let’s consider that a vast majority of people have no idea that the profession of home inspections even exists until they start the home buying process, its really easy for people to question the value of a home inspector. With the average home inspection price in the $350-400 range, by conservative estimates, its even easier to say “no thanks!” when your realtor suggests an inspection. I mean, that’s close to a third or even half of a mortgage payment!
Now, lets put a few important details into perspective:
The Price of a Home vs. the Price of a Home Inspection
First, unless you are buying a home in a rural area, or are buying a run-down “fixer-upper”, you are looking at purchasing an asset worth upwards of $100,000 at a minimum. As of March 2020, the average San Antonio home price was $185,085. In New Braunfels the average home price at the same time was $275,532. This is a lot of money for most of us, and unless you’ve spent a lifetime as a general contractor doing remodel work, happen to be one of the few licensed appraisers in Texas or you’re a licensed home inspector, you may not be properly equipped to evaluate the condition and actual value of the home.
What happens if you purchase a home who’s value was significantly inflated because the of a hot market, and the recent paint-job, new curtains and staging furniture hid the fact that your 15-year old foundation is suffering from significant differential settlement do to the soil conditions of the area? What if that quaint little home was in desperate need of a re-pipe because the galvanized metal piping that was commonplace in the 50’s and 60’s is rusting out and filled with mineral deposits? How about when a child electrocutes themselves because the previous remodeling contractor installed 3-prong electrical receptacles on a home without a grounding system installed?
What happens is: you’re screwed, because the next home buyer will hire a home inspector, the inspector will document the defects, and now the buyer is demanding that you fix these items or reduce the sale price or they walk. Its not common for my clients to completely forgo the entire “renegotiation” process after an inspection because they realize that they really don’t want to deal with the problems that buying a home with foundation issues brings. Maybe they don’t want to deal with the fact that the static water pressure in the home is only 30 PSI and that you can’t operate a faucet in the kitchen without cutting out the hot water to the person taking a shower, and they walk.
These problems aren’t solved by a home inspection, but they do inform you of them and allow you to make an educated decision on whether you want to deal with them and the cost of fixing them. Your home inspector isn’t or at least shouldn’t be the person performing the repairs, but if a house has too many problems, why not move on to the next instead of dealing with them?
How much would you pay to avoid that?
The Price of Home Repairs vs. The Price of a Home Inspection
Secondly, home repairs start in the $100’s and enter into the $1,000’s real quick, with some defects (such as roof tear-offs) hitting the $10,000’s mark. I know, this sounds like dramatic over-valuation typical of a sales pitch, but you can google the cost of appliances right now.
Let’s try it right now: Home Guide estimates that a typical 40-gallon water heater costs about $400, with the cost for a licensed plumber to install it at about $400-$900. Don’t forget about the $250-$500 fee to dispose of it! Water heaters have a warranty of about 9 years.
What about that old air-conditioning system? It still runs right? I mean it was cold when during the open house. “My uncle (who’s always a contractor) told me not worry, those R-22 units last for decades! What’s the worst that could happen?”
The worst that could happen is it fails at 9 PM on a Saturday night in July, and you’re paying an HVAC technician a minimum $125 an hour +$200 service charge just to come out and tell you that you need a new system because that out-of-manufacture R-22 refrigerant is $105 a pound and you need at least 3 pounds plus a new compressor.
You’ll need several quotes to replace that system, and every AC guy in San Antonio is backed up in the summer because everybody else’s old ac needs serviceing too. You’re looking at $5000 to replace that system, without a second thought. But you didn’t have any idea that could happen because your uncle (the contractor) told you it’s fine. Well it’s not fine and you would have known with a home inspection.
This is just the common stuff. The seller told you that there were roof repairs made back in 2017; leak around a vent flashing caused some trouble on the second floor, but they got it taken care of. They can’t find the invoice from the roofer, but don’t worry, he was great! Tell your inspector about this ahead of time! We’ll climb up their and report to you that, yes, there was a leak around that vent flashing, but no, they didn’t replace the rotten plywood decking underneath the shingles nor did they replace the mil-dewy fiberglass batt insulation! Make the seller fix it on their dime!
Even on houses in relatively good condition that have been maintained, we find enough deficiencies to save our clients money overall. I know, its just some caulking around the outside, some paint here and there. Yeah, that piece of wood siding has rotted out, but its small stuff. The outlet in the living room doesn’t work, but we’ll get it fixed later…
And so you call a handyman, or a general contractor, and a painter, and an electrician. And each of these guys charges $125 for some caulking here and there, $150 + materials to replace those pieces of wood siding, $65 an hour + diagonostic charge to troubleshoot those outlets that don’t work (it was a loose breaker!), and suddenly these little things start adding up. A few little things all of a sudden turn into a couple thousand dollars real quick, and you’re only half-way through your fix-it list that your family has been creating in the first couple months you’ve lived here.
Why not have the seller pay for this stuff? It was their house! But you won’t know about this stuff until after you move in and the seller has already gotten your money…unless you hire a home inspector!
Peace of Mind vs. The Price of a Home Inspection
I feel like I’m only scratching the surface of why a home inspection is well worth its fee, but I’ve mainly been writing about the negative consequences that happen if you don’t get a home inspection. There are positives to come from a home inspection as well. The biggest positive to come from a home inspection is the fact that, if performed properly, a home inspection will reveal any secrets (that aren’t inside the walls) a home may hide from you, and that is a relief in and of itself. Knowing what you are getting yourself into, the good and the bad, takes away the anxiety and feeling of “oh no, what next!” that can come from owning an older home or even a newer-but-not-brand-new home. Peace of mind that you have a list of things to tackle and maintenance to keep up with to protect your investment, so that when the time comes to sell or you pass the home down to your children, it will be in the best condition possible.
Is the price of a home inspection worth it? We think so. Ensure Home Inspections is also a better value in both price and quality compared to the other guys as well, so there’s that. If you’re in the San Antonio or New Braunfels area and looking at buying a home, give us a call.
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Home Inspector Kyle D. Scott
TREC # 23813 - TDA # 0819063
Looking for the Best Home Inspector in San Antonio? Ensure Home Inspection provides thorough, low-cost inspections, detailed reports, and personalized consultations in San Antonio, TX & surrounding areas, including WDI/termite inspections and more!
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