Do I Need to Hire a Home Inspector to Purchase a House in New Jersey?

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By Larry Centanni, Esq.

It’s hard to find a great home that you can afford and easy to fall in love with it when you do, so it’s important to take prudent steps to ensure that you know exactly what you’re buying. New Jersey law does not require hiring a home inspector to purchase a property, but most contracts for the sale of real estate in New Jersey include a home inspection contingency that provides the buyer with a right to have the home inspected.

Most buyers make use of the contingency which allows them to either exit the deal or require the seller to make repairs if the home inspection reveals serious problems with the property. That’s why the best New Jersey real estate attorneys always recommend having a home inspection conducted before buying a property.

The Home Inspection Contingency

Once your offer is accepted by the seller, the next step is to retain a New Jersey real estate attorney to review the contract that is drafted by the seller’s attorney. Part of the review process is ensuring that the contract includes a home inspection contingency clause that allows you to hire a home inspector to carefully review every inch of the house and to exit the contract if there are serious defects.

Most homes will have some problems that can be resolved with the seller agreeing to either repair the defect or issue a credit to the buyer to cover the cost of the repair. Your attorney can advise you regarding severe defects with the property and when walking away is your best option.

It’s extremely rare for homebuyers to waive the home inspection contingency. This is due to the risk of buying a property without detailed information regarding its condition and you’d have a hard time finding a New Jersey real estate attorney that would recommend purchasing any property without a thorough home inspection. Saving on the cost of a home inspection might seem to make sense if you’re planning to tear down the existing structure to build something new, but even then you’d still be taking the risk of environmental hazards on the property.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Home Inspector?

The cost of a general home inspection (GHI) by a licensed New Jersey home inspector costs anywhere from $400 to $600 depending on the size of the property. The inspection should include identifying all environmental hazards and physical defects on the property including:

  • Foundation
  • Roof
  • Chimney
  • Walkways
  • Driveways
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Insulation
  • Appliances

The initial inspection may reveal evidence of problems that could require a more extensive inspection by the same company or a referral to a specialist. Such problems requiring immediate remediation and/or a more extensive inspection include:

  • Wood-Destroying Insect Inspection (WDI) for termites, wood-boring beetles, carpenter bees, and carpenter ants
  • Mold
  • Testing for Radon
  • Oil Tank Sweep
  • Pool Inspection
  • Sewer Line or Septic System Inspection
  • Lead Testing

If the initial inspection reveals a structural or mold problem, walking away should be given serious consideration before investing in additional specialized inspections.

Home Inspection and Your Mortgage

Another important reason to hire a home inspector is that most mortgage companies require an inspection as a prerequisite to obtaining a loan. So, unless you’re paying cash, it’s probably not going to be your decision.

If the home inspection reports reveal serious problems, it might be necessary to supply evidence of repairs to the mortgage company either before or at the closing. Once you are satisfied with the condition of the home you’re planning to purchase or with the credit you’re receiving to make your own repairs, your New Jersey real estate attorney will prepare the appropriate documentation for the sellers and the mortgage company.

For more information about the need for home inspections before purchasing a home or other real estate legal issues, contact the Law Office of Lawrence M. Centanni now at (908) 351-0028. Our experienced real estate attorneys are here to assist you with your real estate issues.

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