When to Walk Away After a Home Inspection

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If your home inspection report reveals a house needs more work than you think it’s worth, it might be time to walk away from the sale.
If you’re house hunting, there can be a ton of pressure to put down an offer as soon as possible once you find a house that seems good enough—especially in competitive housing markets. 
A home inspection can save you time and money in the long run by helping you avoid buying a house with major red flags. If the home inspection report comes back with good news, though, it can give you added peace of mind about one of the biggest purchases you'll make in your life.
That’s why Jerry, the super app for home insurance, is here to give you the rundown of what a home inspection is, what to expect from it, and when it might be time to walk away from a sale and search for your dream home elsewhere.
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What is a home inspection?

A home inspection typically takes place after you’ve made an offer on a house and the offer has been accepted. The purpose of a home inspection is to give you a sense of whether a home’s structure and its systems are in good working order.
The findings of a good home inspector can help protect you from buyer’s remorse if the supposed house of your dreams has more problems than you realized. 
If the repair needs are severe enough that you need to walk away from the house, that inspection likely just saved you lots of money that you could better invest elsewhere.
Technically, a home inspection is voluntary and will typically cost several hundred dollars, but don’t let the price deter you from getting one. Foregoing a home inspection can be risky if the home you’re buying has significant (and expensive) problems you’re not aware of.

Choosing a home inspector

As the homebuyer, it’s up to you to select who you want to inspect the home, and not all home inspectors have the same credentials. It’s a good idea to look for someone with adequate experience and expertise with the type of home you’re buying. 
For example, if you’re buying a Victorian house, it could be beneficial to hire someone who’s familiar with how they were constructed so they have a leg up on items to look for. As you’re querying inspectors, you can also ask to see examples of prior reports they’ve put together to get a sense of how thorough they are.
It’s also worth asking your various social circles for recommendations and what their experiences were like with home inspectors.

What to expect during a home inspection

The home inspection process is non-invasive, meaning your inspector isn’t going to be opening any walls to look for things like unseen water damage, but they will go over every room and appliance to check for issues. 
If you have particular concerns that a home inspection might not cover, you have the option of asking another expert to make that evaluation for you.
A thorough home inspection in most cases is going to take at least several hours, during which the inspector should take photos and notes that they’ll share with you in their report. You can choose to be home during the inspection or leave, but it can be helpful to review potential issues with the inspector in real time. 
Here are just a few things a home inspector should look at for potential issues:
  • Plumbing system
  • HVAC system
  • Foundation
  • Roof
  • Home’s exterior
  • Decks or balconies
  • The ground surrounding your home (and potential drainage issues)
  • Appliances
  • Evidence of water damage, inside and out
  • Evidence of pest infestations (like termites or rodents)
Once your home inspector has finished looking at your home, they should give you a written home inspection report detailing their findings.

Reviewing your home inspection report

A good home inspector will give you an extremely detailed written report, ideally with photos, once they’ve completed their inspection and walk you through their findings. If your home inspector has told you they found a few problems, don’t panic just yet!
Houses are made up of complex systems and structures. It’s extremely common, even for overall great houses, to have at least a few issues reveal themselves after a home inspection. Older homes are likely to have more issues in general.

Common problems that fail home inspections

Commonly flagged problems in home inspection reports include:
  • Mechanical problems with systems, like the furnace, water heater, HVAC system, or plumbing
  • Structural problems like foundation cracks or excessively sagging floors
  • Presence of hazards like mold
The purpose of your home inspection isn’t necessarily to find out whether it “fails,” but more so to give you an accurate understanding of what kind of condition your home and its systems are in. Once you have the knowledge, you can decide whether to proceed with the sale. 
Following your home inspection report, you have a few options:
  • Accept the terms of your home’s purchase agreement as-is
  • Make additional requests of the seller to compensate for inspection findings
  • Walk away from the house  

Making requests after a home inspection

Depending on the severity of the issues in your home inspection report, you can usually either ask the seller to make a repair or give you, the buyer, a credit. A seller credit won’t reduce your down payment, but it could reduce your closing costs.
A seller who’s motivated to sell their home is likely willing to consider repair requests that are within reason.  
In fact, a reasonable seller should more often than not expect the possibility that the buyer will come back with a few requests after an inspection—especially if the repairs needed are maintenance tasks they had been putting off as the owner of the home.
If you’re unsure what would constitute a reasonable request in your case, a good realtor can help you negotiate requests that the seller(s) may be more likely to respond to.

When to walk away after a home inspection

How often do buyers back out of a sale after a home inspection? More often than you might think!
It’s extremely common for home buyers to walk away from a home sale when a home inspection reveals too many red flags.
Ultimately, when to walk away after a home inspection is going to be your call, and it’s largely going to depend on your level of comfort with your home inspection’s findings and whether you’re able to address them. That’s especially true if you’ve made requests of the seller that they’ve declined.
Depending on how handy you are, you might be able to tackle certain repairs instead of paying someone else to do them for you. In this case, a few manageable problems on your home inspection report might not give you much worry. 
However, if you feel the costs of making your repairs end up outweighing how much you actually want the home, you’re well within your right to walk away from the sale.

How to find the right home insurance

A home inspection can also give you some helpful insight for another step in the home buying process: choosing the right homeowners insurance
Knowing what kind of condition your home is in—and what kinds of risks it might be more vulnerable to—is essential when it comes to making sure you and your home are adequately protected. 
Once you’ve settled on your dream home, Jerry makes finding that coverage easier than ever!
Insurance shopping can get overwhelming, but the Jerry app is designed to make the process as quick and easy as possible. After answering a few quick questions in the app, Jerry will show you customized quotes based on your demographics, home value, and location so you can find a policy that’s perfect for you.
If you have questions that come up along the way, our friendly, experienced agents are just a tap, text, or call away. And it only takes 45 seconds to get started!
Jerry was wonderful! I used it for my auto and renters policies. I trusted it so much that I signed up my homeowners insurance under Jerry as well. All of the agents are amazingly nice and knowledgeable.” —Mary Y.
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FAQ

When buying a house, skipping out on a home inspection isn’t unheard of, but it’s definitely risky. A home inspection can help you identify problems with your home you might not have been aware of otherwise, which could be a risk to both your safety and your finances down the road. 
Plus, if you opt for a home inspection that reveals a house requires more work than you bargained for, you can typically walk away from the house without losing your earnest money.
When to back out after a home inspection depends on your level of comfort with the findings and your ability to address them. If your home inspection reveals the house has more problems than you think it’s worth, it’s okay to walk away from the sale and look for your dream home elsewhere.

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