Home inspections are an important part of any real estate transaction. They are essential to help buyers understand the condition of the home before they commit to purchasing. This helps them negotiate closings costs or walk away from a bad deal with confidence
However, it’s important to know that inspection reports don’t stay valid forever. And if your closing goes long, is your inspection report still valid? Here, we’ll explain how long you can trust the results of an inspection and what happens if your report becomes invalid.
In general, you can trust the results of an inspection for about 90 days. Here's why:
What is a home inspection?
First things first...what exactly is a home inspection? A home inspection is a visual examination of a property done by a qualified inspector on a home that you want to buy. It's also a good idea to get a home inspection done if you are selling your property. This helps you find and fix potential issues before your home goes on the market.
In most cases, the inspection is completed right after the home goes under contract. Buyers are given a specific amount of time to perform their inspection, typically referred to as the due diligence period.
The aim is to evaluate the property to check it meets structural and safety standards. It also ensures that you're buying a property free of hazards and one that is ultimately a good investment for your money.
The home inspection report will tell you everything you need to know and may give you some bargaining power to request repairs or reduce the home price before you buy it.
As for sellers, a pre-listing inspection can strengthen your position by allowing you to get any repairs done before your home goes on the market. This can save you a lot of money. Otherwise, buyers can use the defects (found by the inspection) as leverage to lower the final closing price of the home.
How long is a home inspection good for?
So this is where things can become a little confusing. Technically, a home inspection report is only valid up until the time you and your home inspector step off the property. While this may seem absurd at first, there is a very valid reason behind it.
Home inspections consider several things, including the structural integrity, wiring, plumbing systems, and other important features of a space that make it habitable. No matter how unlikely, there’s always a chance that damage occurs between the time the inspector leaves and closing. For example, if severe weather comes up, it can change the home’s condition - or the seller could cause damage before moving out.
This is why home inspections are only technically valid up to the moment the inspection is finished.
Does this mean that you can’t trust a report that is a few weeks old?
Of course not. You can still trust the results of an inspection, but you’ll need to use your discretion here. If severe weather comes in between your inspection date and closing, new damage could have occurred. It would be a good idea to get another inspection done, depending on the severity of the damage.
The report is considered invalid for liability reasons - i.e., the inspector cannot guarantee the condition of the home after they have left.
That being said, some inspection companies do offer a 90-day warranty on the report, all factors constant. Since some mortgage loans require an inspection, you may need to get another inspection if it takes you longer than 90 days to close (after completing the inspection).
Why do you need an inspection?
So if the report is invalid so quickly, why should you even get an inspection? Home inspections are a homebuyer’s best protection against overpaying for a property and their best leverage to renegotiate the final closing price based on repairs that are needed.
Here are a few reasons why you should get an inspection:
1. Using your inspection report, you can renegotiate the final closing price (based on repairs needed). Buyers are able to save $14,000 on average on the final closing price.
2. Most inspector reports will give the age of the essential systems and structures. This can help you budget for repairs that will need to be made in the future.
3. Some lenders require you to get an inspection in order to get approved for funding.
When do you get an inspection?
When buying a home, the inspection happens after the seller accepts your offer during the due diligence period. During this time, you’ll also finalize your funding and get an appraisal done. Most due diligence periods last about 28 days, but that can vary based on the terms of your offer.
As mentioned earlier, in the rare event that closing takes longer than expected, you may need a second inspection.
As a homeowner, you’ll want to get a regular home inspection every 1-2 years. Regular inspections can help you uncover issues before they become major problems. By addressing issues early, you’ll save thousands of dollars in the long run.
It’s important to remember that home inspections only tell you about the condition of the property at the time that it occurred. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t trust the results of the inspection. Be sure to use your best judgment when looking at an inspection report.
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