What is involved in a home inspection and is it necessary?

While only certain inspections are required by mortgage lenders or government mandate, a comprehensive home inspection is considered a wise thing to do when purchasing a home. However, since it is not required, the buyer must pay for it. It is also recommended that at the time of the inspection, you accompany the home inspector so that you can learn firsthand as much as possible about the home you are about to purchase - including such basics as where the main water shut-off is and electrical distribution boxes are. Mortgage lenders typically require inspections for wood-destroying insects. Inspections mandated by the state or municipality could include smoke alarm inspection, testing of well water, septic system test, and a certificate of occupancy all of which are typically paid for by the seller. All other inspections are generally paid for by the buyer and must be done within a specified time frame, as indicated in the contract. Some insurers require inspection of underground oil tanks.

What if the inspections turn up problems?

Few homes are perfect. Some problems may be a matter of simple cosmetics; others may be more serious and call for costly repairs. The good news, however, is that in most cases the seller and the buyer are able to come to terms. You and the seller may decide to compromise, with both sharing the costs of repairs, or the seller may pay for any repairs. Or you may decide that the issue is not important enough to risk losing the home.