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Closing on your new home

Schedule a home inspection

Once you’ve chosen a home, schedule a home inspection appointment as soon as possible. You want to have plenty of time to resolve problems.

What to do now

Find a home inspector

Choose an inspector with a reputation for being honest and thorough. You want someone to give you a complete and honest assessment of the physical condition of the home.

Schedule an independent inspection for the home as soon as possible

You want to know as soon as possible if there are major problems with the home so you can decide whether you still want to buy the home. Also, if additional inspections are needed, you’ll want to have plenty of time to get them completed.

You want an independent home inspector who is accountable to you and gives you a complete inspection and an honest opinion. If the home inspector is being paid by someone else or not paid until closing, the inspector might underemphasize problems with the home.

What to know

A home inspection is different than an appraisal, but you generally need both

When you borrow money to buy a home, your lender generally requires a form of an appraisal. Your lender must send you a copy of your appraisal promptly once it is completed. Get more information about appraisals and what to do if an appraisal comes in below the sales price.

You may be able to negotiate with the seller or cancel the sale based on the inspection

If repairs are needed, you may want to negotiate with the seller about who should make or pay for the repairs. Depending on the terms of your purchase contract and local market conditions, the seller may or may not agree to pay for the repairs. If your purchase contract is contingent on a satisfactory inspection, you have the right to cancel the sale without penalty if you are not satisfied with the results of the inspection.

If the inspection or appraisal identifies major repairs that are needed, closing could get more complicated

Some loan programs might require the property to meet specified standards. The appraisal could say the property is subject to repairs, to meet the program’s requirements. If major repairs (like a new roof) are needed, the lender can require that the repairs be made before closing, as a condition of getting the loan. Or the lender could ask you to put enough money in a special account to pay for the repair immediately after closing.

Attend the home inspection if you can

Being present during the inspection makes it easier to interpret the inspection report, understand issues, and allow you to ask questions.

How to avoid pitfalls

Don’t buy a home without having it thoroughly inspected

Inspections are for your protection.

  • If there are serious flaws, such as a cracked foundation, you may decide that you don’t want to buy this home after all. If your purchase contract is contingent on a satisfactory inspection, you should be able to cancel the sale without penalty.
  • If there are parts of the home that are damaged or worn out, you may want to negotiate with the seller to have these fixed before you move in, or to give you a credit for the cost of the repairs.

Don’t choose a home inspector without checking their history

Depending on your area, home inspectors may not be required to be licensed. Before choosing an inspector, ask for references from prior customers and look up the inspector with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) and your state or county licensing authority.

Visit our sources page to learn more about the facts and numbers we reference.

The process and forms described on this page reflect mortgage regulations that apply to most mortgages.