Do I need a home inspection?

One question many first-time homebuyers may ask is "Do I need a home inspection?" If this sounds like you, just turn to any seasoned buyer and ask them. Their answer will be a very strong "yes." 

And there are a few great reasons why a home inspection is completely necessary. 

Read on to learn why:

It's your insurance policy
A smart way to think about a home purchase is that you're not just buying that awesome fireplace, that great master suite or that finished basement – you're buying every bit of termite damage, foundation cracks, roof leaks and any other problems that may be hiding in the house.

"It takes a keen eye to spot any problems beneath the surface."

This is one of the biggest reasons why a home inspection is so important. A licensed professional can come in to your prospective property and find all of these issues before you're financially committed to the home. That way you won't end up stuck with thousands of dollars in costly repairs the moment you move in. In most cases, homes look fantastic on the surface. It takes a keen eye to spot any problems underneath, and those are exactly the problems that you need to identify quickly. 

With a home inspection, you'll have that "insurance policy" against any unfortunate surprises after closing.

It's your negotiating tool
Another key reason why you need a home inspection is for negotiating power. Consider this example: You find a home listed at $300,000. You love it, skip the inspection, offer the list price and win. After moving in, you find out all the plumbing in the two-bathroom home needs to be replaced. Depending on the square footage, this could cost upward of $8,000 – a price you're now on the hook for. 

Now imagine you had that inspection. The professional inspector caught the plumbing issue before you offered list price. Now, you have leverage – you can either ask the seller to fix the plumbing and still pay list price, you can negotiate the seller down roughly $8,000 in anticipation of the repairs, or you can walk away. All of those are options because you had a home inspection completed. And one option that's missing? The one where you were left holding the bill for a massive plumbing repair job.

A home inspection puts the property under a magnifying glass.A home inspection puts the property under a magnifying glass.

It's your eyes and ears
Finally, a home inspection acts as your eyes and ears. The most common scenario when buying a new home isn't the massive repair projects, but more likely a handful of smaller repairs and cosmetic changes. By completing a home inspection, you now have the intelligence to create a plan. An inspector will clue you in to all the red flag issues that could appear down the road – the furnace is on its last legs, the roof should be replaced within five years, and so on. Without an inspection, you won't know where to budget and where to plan. 

In all likelihood, there will be flaws you accept and flaws you negotiate with the seller. An inspection will give you the insight you need to identify which are which, and also help you decide how you want to renovate and improve the property once you move in.

All in all, don't skip the home inspection. The cost of a home inspection typically runs between $500 and $1000, depending on how much you include – radon testing may be extra, for example – and the square footage of the property. Of course, get an inspection even for new construction as well. There may still be issues worth noting. Even with this upfront cost, the knowledge and power you'll get from a trusted professional is invaluable to you as a homeowner.