How important is a home inspection when buying a home for sale?

How important is a home inspection when buying a home for sale? In a word: essential.

Buying a home is one of the largest financial decisions you will ever make. It makes sense that you want to protect yourself by knowing as much as possible about your purchase.

Once a seller has accepted your offer on a home, emotions can run high with excitement and anticipation (it happens to all of us!). But don’t let those feelings prevent you from doing your due diligence. Looks can be deceiving. Even if the home seems flawless, there could be hidden problems. And sometimes unseen issues become costly repairs.

As the buyer, it’s typical for you to have to pay for the cost of a home inspection. But the cost is worth it. A few hundred dollars spent now ($300-$500) could save you thousands in repair costs later. Though no inspection is an absolute guarantee, you will be more informed of potential problems than if you hadn’t inspected the home in the first place.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a physical examination of a home’s structure and systems, performed by a professional home inspector. Most home inspectors will check the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems, roof, foundation, walls, insulation, windows, doors and the structural parts of the home. After the inspection, the inspector will provide you and your real estate agent with a written report on their findings and recommendations.

An appraisal is not the same as an inspection. As a buyer, you should not rely on an appraisal to alert you to potential repair or maintenance issues. An appraisal provides an estimate of a home’s market value to the lender. But the appraisal does not thoroughly evaluate the condition of the home, and it’s systems.

Not all home inspections are created equal. A professional inspector from a reputable business should perform your inspection. Your real estate agent can help you find a good home inspector in your area. Some states have licensure requirements for inspectors. Unfortunately, Iowa does not have any requirements for inspectors, making it even more important to properly screen who you hire. Training is widely available, so be sure to ask about relevant credentials and experience.

Should you go to the inspection?

Yes! While you’re not required to go, you will learn much more about your future house (and it’s potential issues) if you go. Tag along with the inspector as they go through the home and check out all areas, including the attic, basement, crawl space and garage. Going to the inspection allows you to see the home through the more critical eyes of the inspector.  Ask questions and learn as you go.

When is the inspection done?

You need to contact an inspector within a short time after you and the seller sign the purchase agreement. The inspection should be included as a contingency in the contract, which means the final purchase is dependent on the findings of the inspection.

What if the inspector finds problems?

Since the inspection is a contingency within the contract, if the inspection report reveals serious issues, you can negotiate with the seller to remedy the problems found. You may ask the seller to make repairs or give a price reduction, or you can walk away from the contract at this time (if it’s not to your satisfaction).

Keep in mind, all houses have issues. Even new construction homes can have flaws. It’s important to weigh the age of the house and the seriousness of the issues when deciding how to move forward. Your real estate agent will help you with any negotiations and decisions related to the inspection.


You don’t want to go into the biggest financial transaction of your life in the dark. Even if the house you’re buying appears to be in great condition, an inspection can help protect you from surprises down the road. A thorough home inspection helps you make a more informed decision, saving you money, time and stress in the long haul.

Whether you’re selling or buying a home, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. At Coluzzi Real Estate, we answer all your questions and simplify the process. We’re there for you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!


About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com