When you go to buy a home, you know that you need to get the home inspected before you buy in order to avoid becoming a victim of a real estate scam. But, did you know that one of the most common ways people get ripped off when buying real estate is when they are scammed by professional home inspectors themselves? It's true – and the reason why we have prepared this list of the top 10 home inspection scams to watch out for.
Home Inspection Scam #1 – You only get a visual inspection of your home.
This may shock you, but by law home inspectors are only required to do a visual inspection of your home. They don't have to go any further and actually physically check for problems. So, unless you get them to say in writing that they will do a full inspection of your home, they may just do a quick look and miss serious problems.
Home Inspection Scam #2 – They don't really check the condition of your roof.
A bad roof can costs thousands and thousands of dollars to fix. So, you'd think that a home inspector would climb up there with a ladder and give it a good look, right? Wrong. They are only required to look at it from the ground – which means they can miss big roofing problems. Make sure they actually get on a ladder and check it out.
Home Inspection Scam #3 – They don't have any training.
You want your home to be inspected by an expert. But in 16 states no training at all is required to become a home inspector, and in most states the training required is minimal. So, you may have someone inspecting your house who has no idea what they are doing. Get them to tell you exactly what level of experience they have.
Home Inspection Scam #4 – They are really working for your real estate agent.
Your real estate agent doesn't make a commission unless they sell the house to you. And, they know a bad inspection report will cause them to lose the sale. Therefore, they often curry favor with home inspectors they know will ignore problems – and then refer you to those inspectors. Find your own independent home inspector.
Home Inspection Scam #5 – There are hidden costs.
Home inspectors vying for your business may claim a low rate of around $400 when you are comparing prices. But, once you've hired them you'll soon discover a lot of hidden charges if you want a full inspection. These charges can more than double what you end up actually paying the inspector.
Home Inspection Scam #6 – No experience with new homes.
Many inspectors are only experienced with seeing problems with older homes, and will assume new homes are problem-free – even though many new homes have structural or other problems. Make sure your home inspector has experience with new as well as existing homes.
Home Inspection Scam #7 – They won't give a guarantee.
So, what happens if you have your home inspected and they missed a problem? It's your problem now, unless the home inspector has given you a guarantee in writing that their inspection was accurate. If they won't give you a guarantee, then find a different inspector.
Home Inspection Scam #8 – They don't have E&O Insurance.
Even if they give you a guarantee, it's not worth much if they can't pay to repair problems they missed. That's why honest home inspectors carry errors and omissions insurance. If they don't have it, that's a bad sign.
Home Inspection Scam #9 – They don't know local building codes.
You'd be shocked at this fact – but no law guarantees that home inspectors be up to date on local building codes – and if they aren't, their inspection may mean next to nothing. Question the inspector about local codes and make sure they know what they are doing.
Home Inspection Scam #10 – They damage the home.
Unless you get it in writing, home inspectors are not liable for any damage they do during the home inspection. It doesn't help you if they do thousands of dollars of damage themselves. Make them guarantee they'll pay for any damage they cause.