Should you forgo a home inspection to win a bid on a home?

In the competitive D.C. area housing market, buyers hoping to make the winning bid on a home may consider forgoing something which in the past was a must for most homebuyers — a home inspection. But doing so could come with a lot of risk.

“If you’re buying an older home, and our area is mostly populated with older homes, there’s a lot of risk of just moving forward without having some level of review of the condition of the house,” said Eldad Moraru, a D.C.-area realtor with Compass Realty.

Moraru said he doesn’t believe a lot of buyers are going this route, and it is something he would suggest against if they are considering it. One thing he said you may be seeing in competitive situations is buyers forgoing an inspection period, and instead bringing in an inspector to look over the home before they put in a bid.

“For the seller, they don’t have to take the risk of accepting an offer that takes that property off the market, only to potentially later have a buyer walk on a home inspection contingency,” Moraru said.

If time constraints are put on pre-inspections, Moraru said a “walk and talk” could also be an option. That process involves a home inspector coming to the home for a shorter period to look it over.

Moraru said homebuyers are still seeing bidders add home inspection contingencies to their contracts, some though will have shorter windows for them to walk, to entice the seller.

Other buyers, he said, will take out their ability to negotiate in hopes of winning the bid.

“In other words, they will only have the ability to void the contract or move forward as is,” Moraru said,

Phillip Dancer, with Dancer & Co. home inspection company, said home inspectors give you a detailed picture of what you are buying and look for big ticket items that could encourage you to walk away from a deal.

“Those are things like the roof, foundation, electrical wiring, water heater or the HVAC system,” Dancer said.

Dancer said during his inspections he’s found mold throughout homes and shifting foundations, things he said are not always visible during quick walk-throughs.

“I’ve seen actual water dripping into an electrical panel, which was crazy,” he said.

He said full inspections find those items, and cautioned that during walk and talk sessions, which became popular during the pandemic, a lot can be missed due to limited time to examine properties.

Dancer also encourages homebuyers to remember to account for big ticket issues with a home and factor that into their max bid, because things can go wrong.

“I don’t think people really take into account ‘I think we also need to have a nest egg set aside for those expenses.’ Because I see reactions on families’ faces, and it’s not a good reaction,” he said.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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