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  • Maria Chernetska

What should I do before making an offer on a house?

No, you should never order a home inspection before making an offer because you might waste money on a deal that never happens. The seller may not even respond to your offer, and even if your offer is accepted, nothing is binding until contracts are signed in most states like New York.


When Do You Do a Home Inspection?


You should order a home inspection after you have an accepted offer, but before you have signed a purchase contract.


You want to wait until you have an accepted offer because you don’t want to spend several hundred dollars before having some assurance that you might have a deal.


However, you want to do your home inspection before signing a contract to leave yourself time to re-negotiate a deal after inspection if something unexpected comes up during the inspection.


Who Pays for Inspections When Buying a House?


It is the responsibility of the buyer to pay for a home inspection should he or she want one.


Remember that a home inspection is not customary when purchasing condos or co-op apartments in a city like NYC; however, it’s quite common to order a home inspection when buying free-standing property such as a single-family house.


Of course, everything is negotiable in real estate, and in a situation where a seller is desperate, it is conceivable that the seller could be persuaded to pay for the buyer’s home inspection.


However, this is ill-advised for the seller as inspections are typically done before contracts are signed, in which case the seller could easily waste money on a freebie for a buyer who never comes through.


Do You Have to Have a Home Inspection?


You don’t have to have a home inspection if you’re buying a co-op or condo apartment; however, it’s highly recommended that you do get a home inspection if you buy an attached or detached house or any sort of free-standing property or building.


For example, it’s uncommon to see home inspections ordered in NYC for co-op and condo transactions primarily because co-op and condo buildings can have hundreds of units that share in the cost of maintaining common areas.


Furthermore, coop and condo buildings are typically not self-managed and have professional managing agents who oversee the building.


As a result, the exact condition of the building’s roof may not have much of an impact on a potential co-op apartment buyer.


Of course, exceptions do exist. For example, it may be wise to order a home inspection if you are buying a unit in a small building with 10 units or fewer. In this case, the impact of any major repairs will be proportionally larger for an individual owner or shareholder.


If you are buying free-standing property such as a multi-family townhouse, then it’s critically important that you order a home inspection. That’s because as the sole owner of the building, you will also solely be responsible for the condition of the roof, the boilers, and the exterior. You want to make sure you’re not buying a building that is on the verge of crumbling.


Should My Offer Be Contingent on Passing Inspection?


No, it’s unnecessary to make an offer contingent on passing a home inspection because offers are generally not binding in most states like New York. It is quite common for buyers to try to negotiate after inspection, and there’s no need to remind the seller that you may do so. It’s better to make your offer as digestible as possible and as easy as possible for the seller to accept.


Remember, once the seller has accepted your offer, he or she is more emotionally invested in a potential transaction with you. Furthermore, the seller may have even agreed to naively stop further showings. As a result, it’s very advantageous for a buyer to get a seller to accept an offer so that the buyer can at the very least have a head start on due diligence vs other potential bidders.

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