real estate

Thinking of Skipping a Home Inspection? You're Not Alone

Waiving a home inspection is a risk that many buyers desperate to find a home are taking in a hot market

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Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially in this wildly expensive housing market.

The price of homes remains sky-high, with a low inventory and realtors told NBC10 Boston buyers are doing just about everything to get their bid to the top of the list – even if it means waiving their home inspection.

"If you want a house and you're bidding for a house against other people, other buyers are in that bidding war - you have to waive your inspection if you have any chance or hope of getting that house," said Carrie Hines, a realtor at Compass Real Estate.

It’s a risky move for the buyer and according to Hines, she said by doing this, you don’t know the home you’re moving into.

"You see a house once, maybe at an open house with 50 other people. You get excited, you make an offer, you are the winner. Imagine that? You've won the house against 20… 15 people, and then you move in, and you have no idea where the water service to shut the oil burner off. Part of a home inspection is learning your house, and if you're a first-time buyer, you don't know anything," said Hines.

Rachel Lee lives in Foxboro with her husband. They bought their first home together in 2021 without a home inspection.

"So going into this, I think everyone's like, 'I will never wave an inspection,'" said Lee. But after missing out on a few homes, she asked her realtor what to do next.

"She was saying that about 80%, 85% of people do end up waiving the inspection in order to to get a house, which we thought was insane. But we learned that that is the norm," said Lee.

Lee explained while she and her husband did not have the highest offer, the seller still chose them.

"And it is kind of scary is you think 'oh they're not picking the highest offer but this person's waiving the inspection.' Is something wrong with the house? And are they trying to cover something up? But luckily, we didn't run into that. And we've had our house for about 14 months now and we haven't had any problems, which is really great."

Suzanne Nissen, a real estate agent at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, said no matter what home you’re buying, it’s going to have issues.

"I think people get really freaked out about the idea of waiving an inspection because they hear all these horror stories about all these terrible things that can go wrong when in fact, if you budget for the things— if there's mold in your in the basement from some water damage, mold can be removed," said Nissen.

"Yes, there are, of course, stories that you hear about terrible situations where, you know, a home did have a home inspection, but the inspector missed things because inspectors do miss things they can't see through walls."

Nissen explained, "So if there was something wrong with that house and the homeowner and the new homeowner ended up having to spend a lot of money, that's terrible. And it's unfortunate, but it's a risk you take when you're buying a house with or without a home inspection."

One inspector told NBC10 Boston his business has dropped off by at least 30%. And now, he’s seeing a lot of "information-only" inspections.

We talked to James Brock, who has been a licensed home inspector in Massachusetts for more than 20 years. He does what’s called a "Pre-offer Inspection," where he checks the basement foundation, heating, electrical and plumbing systems all for a discounted rate.

"So, the exterior envelope and the complete basement are inspected exactly like a full home inspection. Upstairs for the rooms, we do a quick, courteous walkthrough of the kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. We're not testing every outlet. We're not testing the windows. We're not operating the appliances. And that's done at a discounted rate of about 20%-25%. This way it gives the client at least enough information to know that the House isn't going to fall down. And they could put an offer in waiving the inspection, but not having to pay for a full home inspection," said Brock.

While Nissen does not recommend waiving your home inspection, she told NBC10 Boston that every situation is different.

"We never really want to recommend that you don't have an inspection. But if you have buyers that have lost five, six, seven houses and they really want this house, that may be the best way to get their offer to call the attention of the seller… And, you know, at the end of the day if you get the house you want, a lot of people think that's worth it," she said.

If you do take the risk of waiving your home inspection, Nissen recommends having an inspector come out to your home after the sale goes through to learn about the structure and find out if there are any problem areas.

And inspection or not, Nissen highly recommends leaving room in the budget in case something pops up.

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