Home Inspection: for Buyers

When do you need them, what to look out for,
how much do they cost, who pays for them?

When do you order a Home Inspection?

Home Inspection reports should be ordered as soon as you have an executed (signed by all parties) sales contract. If you are working with a real estate agent, have this discussion with them when signing the contract. Most real estate contracts have a blank space that looks like this --> "_______" to fill in for the number of days the buyer has to get the inspection done (once the contract is executed). Most often, the contract specifies that if it is left blank, the buyer has 15 days.

When submitting your offer to the seller... BE STRATEGIC when filling out blank spaces like "number of days for home inspection"!! Lots of interest in the property? Multiple contracts?? No interest, potentially problematic old property full of repairs needed?

There are VERY FEW terms that can be modified within a regular Purchase Contract for residential property. Make sure you understand them and use them to your advantage!!!

Remember, home inspections that come out costly or bad can give the buyer a way OUT of the contract. A smart informed seller will know this and watch this home inspection timing very carefully. The seller doesn't want to waste weeks waiting for the buyer to decide he wants to rip up the contract.

IF there are no other interested buyers, and the seller seems anxious to sell - it may be perfectly fine to use all 15 days. Follow up on all the concerns the report turned up. If a concern was listed about the roof condition, call in a roofer to get a free estimate for repairs to compare to what the report says. If a concern was listed about electrical or plumbing, call in a professional to look more closely at the issues. These extra steps will take additional time, so in this case - a buyer may need all 15 days (or more), in order to feel confident in going forward with the contract. 

What if the property has LOTS of interested buyers or multiple offers? How do you make sure YOU get the seller to sign YOUR offer? One way is to agree to get the home inspection done as quick as humanly possible - and most especially quicker than other buyers. Use the home inspection time period strategically. Get the inspection done with SEVEN or TEN days!!  Why? Because the seller doesn't want to wait around unnecessarily while the buyer googles and searches and finally gets an inspection done and weeks later decides they don't like the results and wants to cancel the contract.

And certainly, if the results aren't to the buyer's liking, the contract they use may stipulate they can cancel the contract without any penalty (most likely). So offer NOT to tie up the seller necessarily!  And you're also making sure you aren't wasting your time either! We recommend seeking out an inspection company ahead of putting any offers in on a property. This way, as soon as your offer is accepted you can order the Inspection and have it done within a few days.

What do buyers learn from Home Inpsections?

Home inspection reports are typically very lengthy, covering every major system and component. Each section is broken down into specific items that the inspector may deem potentially problematic. With every issue the inspector finds, he/she will attach real-life estimates to most anything they see wrong with the property.

For instance, a very common item within Inspection Reports is a missing GFCI outlet (often in a kitchen).  If there aren't enough of these GFCI outlets, or the outlets closest to water sources aren't GFCI, the inspector will probably add it to the report and assign a basic estimate for the cost of having an electrician come out and replace the current one with the correct one, or add a new outlet entirely. It's important to understand these are inspectors working for a home inspection company, they ARE NOT general contractors or county inspectors. This means... they are giving you a good faith OPINION on the cost for a repair they believe is important. The suggestions and/or repair amounts do not necessarily corrolate to real world diagnosis and repair costs.

The Report will include each of the components and systems of the property including:

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Appliances
  • Interior (walls, floors, balconies, stairs etc)
  • AC/Heating

A word of advice: if you are handy at all, or if you have family members or friends that are handy, make sure to share the results of any Inspection Reports with them. OFTENTIMES the Inspection Report will assign repair estimates that are designed to give you an idea of the cost. However, in almost every situation, you can get these things done MUCH MUCH cheaper. Also, the items on the report that the inspector includes will most likely not be things that are required by law to have fixed or repaired, or are actually so cheap and easy to fix yourself, that it should NOT be a deterrent for a buyer to buy the property!

For instance, there are two electrical outlets in the house that aren't working. The Inspection Report will likely estimate the repair cost to be $75 (electrical trip fee to show up) plus another $50 for time, supplies. However, you may want to consider doing a little DO IT YOURSELF REPAIR WORK and replace those electrical outlet yourself! They can be purchased at an ACE Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe's etc for under $2.00 each for a regular outlet that needs to be replaced (yes, electrical outlets eventually die). There are tons of youtube videos on how to easily and quickly replace them yourself. So don't let the results of these inspections scare you! Make sure to have friends, family look at them and get other opinions on who can help fix what repairs, and for how much.

HOWEVER... IF there's some troubling results within the home inspection report like a bad roof that needs replacement soon... or faulty pool plumbing or electrical... or a mysterious leak underneath a 2nd floor bathtub, it's VERY IMPORTANT to follow up on these concerns by sending out a professional to give you a more thorough real-world diagnosis and repair estimate.


When issues arise from an inspection report, it can be a great way try to negotiate the purchase price with: "hey seller, you need a new $15k roof... let's knock off $13k off the purchase price".

Or, depending on the Purchase Contract you are using, you could most likely simply cancel the contract if you aren't interested in adopting that or any other significant impending needed repairs. Gotta have the property no matter what? Be strategic and if possible, use a very experienced real estate agent to help guide you through the process.

Cost for a Home Inspection Report:

Home Inspections costs are normally based on the square footage of the property, type of property and location of the property. The average price range is anywhere from $250-$400 for an average sized condo, townhome or single family home. Commercial property is generally more. And larger luxury homes will be more. The more space and components to inspect, the higher the cost for the report.

Who pays?

Depending on the location of the property... most places in the US make the Inspection Report a buyer expense. Why is this a good thing? Because the buyer owns the report. If the results come back perfect, they don't need to share it with the seller. And if the results come back with some big expenses or concerns, the report can be used as a negotiating tool, or to use to cancel the contract and step away completely. The inspection report is not required to be shared with the seller or seller's agent.

  • Depending on your purchase contract, you may only have a small window (usually 10-15 days) to get out of the contract IF something is found to be really wrong with the property to a point where you no longer want to buy it!

  • It can take anywhere from two days to a week or more to get a confirmed appointment for your inspection, depending on the company you want to hire.

  • Even if you want to buy the property no matter what, you should take the opportunity to find out what needs/repairs you'll be met with once you close and are handed the keys! Home inspections include not only items in need of addressing/repair... many companies also provide an estimate for that type of repair. A great thing to add into your budget-

  • Home Inspectors normally have a background in construction and are up on current Miami-Dade codes. They have a broad knowledge of the inner-workings of the property and can answer lots of questions or concerns. The report will be pages long and extensive, and could be useful long after your closing.

Does the Buyer need to be present at the Home Inspection?

No, but it is HIGHLY recommended that you be present. If you can't be there, send your Realtor or a family member or friend. Take notes, ask questions!

Buying property is a huge investment. Spending $200-$500 on the Inspection
is well worth the money.
Know what you are purchasing,
keep the report for future reference.

And follow up on any concerns listed within that inspection report!
What looks small and insignificant, could turn out to be a big costly issue.

How to Pick the Right Home Inspection Company for you:

There are many. But there are some differences that set some companies apart from their competition. Depending on what's most important to you... here are some questions to ask:

  1. Cost for basic inspection, cost for any additional reports? 
    They will ask you for property type, square footage, etc and can give you the cost before you need to hire them. Shop around!

  2. Does the inspector provide the report on site/immediately?
    Some inspectors carry a laptop and printer with them! Others will have the reports ready in anywhere from 1 to 4 business days. Make sure to ask if they'll EMAIL it to you!

  3. If a condo built between 2001-2009... do they offer Defective/Chinese Drywall testing? Depending on the location of the property, Chinese drywall inspections may be needed and will most likely be an additional fee. Testing results are not immediate, those reports will likely take longer. If Chinese drywall is a concern, it's best to include a special addendum directly addressing this subject inside of the Purchase Contract. As the buyer, you may need to specify additional time in order to get that inspection done and get the results back.

  4.  Will the report include photos?
    It should!! Lots of photos!!!

  5. Will the report include estimates of typical/similar repairs?
    Yes, it will give a real-life fair estimate of how much the repair would cost for repair or replacement and any additional recommendations of the inspector.

Purchasing property in Miami-Dade or Broward counties?
Try Yelp's Top Local Home Inspection Companies list, read the reviews to find the best fit for you.

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