Between competitive real estate markets and confusing real estate jargon, buying a home for the first time can feel overwhelming. But fear not, house hunters we’re here to shed some helpful light on the home inspection process (good news: it can be surprisingly painless).

What’s a home inspection?

Typically conducted by a certified inspector, the goal of a home inspection is to assess the general condition of a house before purchase. That includes the condition of its chimney, roof, and gutters, and the integrity of its basement and foundation. During the walk-through, the inspector will flag any potential major (or expensive) issues for prospective homeowners. Afterward, they’ll usually prepare a report of their findings.

When do I get one?

When a buyer initiates a home inspection, it tends to occur after an offer has been made on a house, but before closing. Sometimes sales are contingent on a home inspection. That way, buyers aren’t obligated to finalize their purchase until there’s been an inspection. While mortgage lenders will generally require that you get a home appraisal before funding your loan, home inspections are not always required. But many insurers will insist that you get a home inspection by a certified home inspector before issuing homeowners coverage.

Why should I get one?

Home inspections generally benefit the buyer by giving them an important opportunity to evaluate a property’s condition before signing on the dotted line. Sellers who want to improve a property before listing it can also benefit from conducting a home inspection in order to determine if there are any major issues they should take care of before selling.

How long does a home inspection take?

The length of time it takes for a house to be inspected can vary based on the size and structure of the house. But generally, it’s somewhere in the range of 2-3 hours. Though it’s not required, it may be a good idea to try and attend the inspection yourself (or possibly with your realtor). You can ask the inspector questions, point out areas of concern, and get a better understanding of the bones of the house yourself.

How much does the inspection cost?

Typically, the buyer’ll cover the cost of the inspection. Fees vary by location and size of the home, but according to Angie’s List, the average cost is between $300-$450.

How do I find a home inspector?

Easily! Search for qualified, local inspectors by visiting the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Can I do a home inspection myself?

Your lender or insurer may require you to get a certified home inspection from a third party. But new Esurance customers can use the DIY Home Inspection App®— not only can you do your own inspection, but you could also get an automatic $50 discount on your first term.*

So, go forth house hunters, and purchase with confidence! And while you’re at it, make sure you have homeowners insurance lined up.  

*DIY Home Inspection Discount is not a discount in all states and savings may vary in certain states.

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about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.