Home Inspections: A Quick Buyer’s Guide


If you’re starting your search for a home, you may be concerned about unwittingly purchasing a lemon. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to help ensure that the property you buy isn’t harbouring any major hidden defects. One of the most common is getting a thorough inspection.

Having a home professionally inspected allows you to make a more informed decision about a very largest investment. The process goes beyond providing insight into a property’s overall condition to highlight any potential issues that could impact you (and your finances) down the line.

If you’re buying a home, here’s what you should know about getting it inspected…

How inspections work

In the simplest terms, an inspection consists of having a licensed professional visually assess a home’s systems, components, and structure. The result is a written report that provides crucial details about its condition and probable lifespan, which can help you do more than avoid worst-case scenarios.

One of the best things about an inspection is the bargaining power it can provide. If your inspector uncovers any major issues, you can try to negotiate with the sellers to have them perform necessary repairs—or reduce their price. Either way, having this information at your disposal can help you take more decisive action.

What inspectors look for

A typical home inspection will include structural components (such as a property’s foundation, basement, roof, windows, doors, and gutters) along with integral systems (like its plumbing, HVAC, and electrical wiring) as well as its major appliances. Grading—the slope of the land that a home sits on, which can determine its potential for flooding—is another important consideration that you’ll find in your report.

Of course, this isn’t a complete list—and even when it comes to these commonly-assessed components, there are limits to the information that an inspector can provide. Their examinations are visual, which means they can’t look inside of walls to assess every inch of the plumbing and electrical systems. In some cases, they may also suggest bringing in a specialist (such as a foundation or mold expert).

While you should be aware that home inspections aren’t always perfect, they do provide a helpful snapshot of the condition of the property you’re planning to purchase.

A word on condo inspections

For condo buyers, the inspection process is different. If the unit you’re purchasing is a new build, you’ll automatically receive a pre-delivery inspection. If you’re opting for a resale unit, you may choose to have it inspected—but many buyers don’t. That’s because it’s the condominium corporation and not the unit owner who’s responsible for common elements, which include most of the major systems that are inspected in single-family homes.

Many condo buyers feel that it makes more sense to focus on their status certificate. This document contains detailed information about a unit (such as monthly fees, building rules and bylaws, and governance). Having it examined by legal counsel is one of the keys to making a smart purchase.

Inspection conditions

Many buyers would never even consider purchasing a home without having a professional look over it first. If this sounds familiar, you may want to make your offer conditional on a satisfactory inspection. This step allows you to back away from the deal without repercussions if serious issues arise.

Then there are buyers who are comfortable forgoing an inspection to make their offer more attractive to sellers. This tends to happen in fast-moving real estate markets—where multiple offers aren’t uncommon. If you are committed to not using an inspection condition, it’s crucial that you turn to an experienced agent to minimize your risk.

For many home buyers, an inspection is a crucial piece of due diligence. Whether you opt to have one done or not, make sure the decision you make is an informed one. When it comes to real estate, greater peace of mind starts with a complete picture of the place you want to call home!

Getting ready to buy a home? Reach out to start the process, and we’ll take the first step together!

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