Look before you leap.  Kick the tires.  There are a number of euphemisms for gathering as much information as you can before you act.  The greater the risk, the larger the investment, obviously the more time and effort you should spend making sure you understand the context and content of your decision.  For most people the largest purchase they will ever make will be their home.  This is why home inspections are so important. 

Home inspections are an essential and critical element in the home buying process.  The things that can be discovered can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.  It’s important not to confuse a home appraisal and a home inspection, they are two different things.

What is the difference between an appraisal and an inspection?

Appraisals are required by banks and lenders in order to determine the market value of the home.  An appraiser makes a visual inspection of the home noting any improvements or deficiencies that can impact value.  Location, square footage, and comparable homes in the area are also considered in this assessment. 

An inspection focuses on the mechanical features and integrity of the home.  Plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical and structural elements are the key focus of a home inspection.  Inspections also look for any safety or health concerns, and notify the buyer of any repairs that need to be made. 

Why should you have a home inspection before you buy?

Once you find a home you are considering buying you should have it inspected.  The inspector should be hired by you, not the seller.  Even if you are purchasing a new construction home, an inspection is a must.  For the cost of a few hundred dollars and a few hours, you could end up saving thousands of dollars and years of headaches and frustration.  Home inspections also give you a negotiating advantage when the time comes to make an offer.  Any repairs can be leveraged as a purchasing condition.  The results could also lead to a lower asking price.  Inspections also give you all of the information you need to make the best decision and to truly understand what it is you are buying.

One of the best assets you can have during the home buying process is a REALTOR®.  REALTORS® are an invaluable resource.  From finding the right location and home for you and your family, they are there every step of the way and can be very helpful during the inspection process.