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Why a Home Inspector should be an Investor’s Best Friend

By Michele Lerner

Whether you are buying your first rental property or one of a string of investments in real estate, each and every time you buy property you should be spending the $200 or $400 on a home inspection. No matter how much you may know about real estate, a licensed, experienced home inspector should be part of every transaction.

Many homebuyers assume a home inspection takes place just to give the buyers a way out of the contract in case they are having buyers’ remorse or if the property turns out to have a structural defect. But a home inspection has value even when the contract is not contingent on a home inspection. Why? As a homeowner, you are best served by knowing as much as you can about your property and its systems.

A home inspector can tell you when you should expect to have replace the heat pump or the water heater; can give you advice on how often to clean or change air filters, can find a tiny leak before it becomes a bigger one, notice when a window sash is loose or a stair rail needs to be replaces and make other suggestions of how to improve the efficiency of your home’s operations.

Investors often opt to purchase a foreclosure or a short sale in order to take advantage of low prices. Generally, these homes need to be purchased “as is”, so that buyers should not expect to request repairs or improvements to be made at the owners’ expense. But a home inspection for these types of transactions can be even more important, since the condition of the property may have deteriorated due to deferred maintenance. In some cases, the home has been damaged by the frustrated former owners. A home inspection can provide the buyers with solid information about whether damage or disrepair has created structural damage to the home or if a few cosmetic changes can make the property livable.

For investors intending to purchase multiple properties in one area, establishing a relationship with one or two reliable, experienced home inspectors can save them time and money and help them make educated property purchases.

Tips for working with a home inspector:

  • Not all states require a home inspector to be licensed, but if yours does, check for a license
  • Choose an inspector who is a member of either the National Association of Home Inspectors ( or the American Society of Home Inspectors ( both of which require both proven education and experience.
  • Make sure the inspector carries errors and omissions insurance which protects you and the company if a claim needs to be made.
  • Ask for a sample report from the inspector before hiring so you know what details to expect. Ask how long it takes to get a final report after each inspection. If you are in a fast-moving transaction you won’t want to wait too long.
  • Find out what is included in the inspection. You may need to pay extra for a termite inspection or a radon inspection. Find out if the inspector will evaluate the condition of the roof, since this can be one of the most expensive repairs or replacements to make.
  • Attend the inspection so you learn as much as you can about the property you intend to buy.

Michele Lerner, a real estate expert and freelance writer with 20 years of experience, is the author of “HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time”.
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