2020 was challenging for many homebuyers, with 2021 being much of the same. In almost every metropolitan market, competition among buyers is fierce. And that competition includes competing against buyers who are willing to waive their home inspection contingency.
Many homes were seeing multiple offers, with 3-10 offers the first weekend. And some homes were seeing as many as 20 or 30 offers. Buyers are being forced to submit very competitive offers to compete with other home buyers.
The Challenge For 2021 Home Buyers
With many offers on one home, you can expect there will be some cash offers. Other buyers are also willing to waive a home inspection contingency and appraisal contingency as well.
As a buyer using a mortgage commitment contingency to ensure you get financed, it is hard to compete with a cash offer, to begin with. But they may also be willing to remove other contingencies and make it hard for you to compete.
Many buyers are being encouraged to remove the home inspection contingency from their offer to make it more attractive to sellers and more competitive.
What Is A Home Inspection?
Before delving into whether you should have a home inspection or not, let’s look at the purpose of a home inspection.
Home inspections are the opportunity to discover major defects that were not apparent at a buyer’s showing. Typically, it is performed by a licensed, professional home inspector who is trained to inspect a home from top to bottom and has a working knowledge of the structure and systems in a home.
Your home inspection is to help you make an informed decision about the house, including its condition.
What Does It Mean To Waive A Home Inspection?
Most standard purchase contracts have a provision or contingency for a home buyer to perform a home inspection. The contingency allows a specific time period for the buyer to inspect the home to their sole satisfaction.
Meaning, if any issues are found with the home during the home inspection, the buyer can withdraw their offer and get all of their deposit money back.
The home inspection contingency protects a home buyer from buying a house with serious and costly issues to rectify.
Home Inspections Are A Risk For A Home Seller
Home inspections are a risk for home sellers on two levels.
First, a home inspection may uncover a costly issue that a home seller was not aware of in the first place. A roof may be starting to fail with small undetected leaks, a furnace could have a cracked heat exchanger, high levels of mold can be detected in a basement or attic, etc… All add up to thousands of dollars to rectify.
Secondly, some home buyers will nickel and dime a home seller either for the sole purpose of reducing the purchase price or they expect a resale home to be perfect.
Either way, a home inspection opens up a seller to renegotiating and losing money from their initial purchase price or going thru the hassle and expense of doing repairs before closing.
The home inspection is always a cause for concern for the home seller with many unknowns ahead. So why wouldn’t a contract that removes the home inspection contingency be attractive to a home seller?
Foregoing your home inspection eliminates a large layer of risk for the seller.
Should A Buyer Waive A Home Inspection?
This begs the question of whether a home buyer should remove a home inspection contingency?
By doing a home inspection there are a lot of risks removed for the buyer to ensure they are not buying a money pit. Homes that appear to be in great shape can have serious issues that go undetected by real estate agents and buyers during routine showings.
So, should you waive your home inspection?
As a real estate agent of 20 years, I have always been very hesitant to recommend any buyer remove a home inspection. This hot seller’s market has created quite a dilemma.
But, I would be remiss in not informing a buyer what they are up against and that removing a home inspection contingency is a strategy that many buyers are using, and are often a tipping point for buyers in being the winning offer in a hot seller’s market.
Removing Your Home Inspection Contingency
Deciding to remove your home inspection contingency is a personal decision and one you need to discuss with your buyer’s agent. Several things to consider are:
- Your experience level in buying a home and homeownership. If you are a first-time home buyer removing your home inspection can be scary. On the other hand, if you have owned homes for many years, it may not be something you are concerned with.
- The overall condition of the house when shown. Often a well taken care of home generally carries through to the entire home. But, beware, even the best of homes can have latent issues that can be problematic after a closing.
- Consider your finances. If you do decide to waive your home inspection, consider how much money you will have on hand after you close on a home. It will be wise to have enough money to cover a major issue like a roof or furnace replacement on hand if something should arise. A buffer of 3-5% of the purchase price would be a good number to have access to if the worst-case scenario pops up.
- The age of a home. Older homes that have not had much updating, especially pre-1940’s may have more issues than a newer home given their age and the lack of building codes that are in place today and the lack of updating over the years.
- Your desire for a home. That dream home may pop up that you want, and you may decide that removing your home inspection is worth it and you are willing to take the risk.
- The level of competition for a home. You certainly don’t want to waive your right to have a home inspection if there is no competition for a home. If there are going to be just a few offers there is a chance to get the home even if you retain your right to inspect the home. But if there are 10+ offers there is a good chance you will have home buyers willing to remove any number of contingencies in the offer to purchase, including their right to inspect a home.
There can be serious financial, safety and health ramifications if you remove your home inspection contingency. And doing so, shouldn’t be taken lightly.
On the other hand, I have not sold very many houses that buyers have found to be a complete disaster after purchasing. And, the ones that are, buyers have known upfront based on the condition they had a long road ahead of them.
But it is a gamble and fully recognize the risk you are taking.
This is the reality of buying a home in 2021. To compete and get the home you may want you may be faced with removing any number of real estate contingencies including the home inspection contingencies.
Alternatives To Removing Your Home Inspection
Maybe giving up a home inspection is too much for you to bear. But there may be some strategies where you can keep your home inspection while strengthening your offer.
Home Inspection Addendum Subject To Costs Over A Certain Dollar Amount
Consider adding a home inspection addendum. It would state that you would are only concerned with non-cosmetic repairs that are in excess of a fixed dollar amount. Typically, you will see buyers set that amount between $2,000-$10,000.
This will give you peace of mind by having your home inspection. At the same time, you are removing some of the risks that a home seller worries about when a home inspection is done. It can be a win-win.
Pre-Listing Home Inspection
This strategy allows you to have your inspection and remove your home inspection contingency. You schedule a home inspection before submitting an offer. By the time you write your offer, you will have a grasp on the condition of the home and can remove the inspection contingency with confidence.
The only downside is with very hot properties you may not be able to schedule a pre-listing home inspection either due to time constraints or unfortunately some sellers are not allowing showings outside of the open houses or offer very limited access.
You may have to waive your home inspection contingency to compete for the house you want or to even buy a house at all in some markets. But, at the same time, it can be a risky business for you.
It is something you need to think about as it can have short and long-term ramifications for you. Do not waive the inspection without careful consideration and know what the downsides can be. In the end, it is your decision and you need to be comfortable with it.
At the same time, remember if you are in a multiple offer situation you are most likely running into buyers willing to forego their home inspection.
And that makes a highly attractive offer to a seller. So much so, a seller might accept a lower offer, because a buyer was willing to do so.
Kevin is a Massachusetts REALTOR who has been serving the residential real estate needs of Essex and Northern Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts for over 18 years. In that time he has gained experience by successfully closing on 100’s of real estate transactions. That experience is brought to every new buyer or seller to guide them through the process of buying or selling their home.