If a sales contract includes an inspection contingency, a home inspection gives the prospective buyer an escape hatch from a seriously flawed property. But with houses selling "as is," why even get an inspection?
Because a buyer still needs to know what's wrong, what repairs may be coming down the line, inspectors said.
Here are some of the issues inspectors said potential buyers need to consider:
* Serious structural problems. Foundation cracks, settlement issues, can soak up tens of thousands of dollars.
* Sewer lines. They run beneath the house, and fixing them can be expensive.
* Wet basement or water in the house. If caused by clogged gutters, that's one thing. But if the land has a high water table or the house is built on marine clay, seepage can indicate major problems.
* Electrical defects. Can be life-threatening.
* X plus Y equation. X equals the price of the house. Y equals what you have to spend on it to make it right. Can you afford X plus Y?
* Systems. Inspection can reveal where roofs, furnaces and air conditioners are in their replacement cycles. If all three are old, that could be a major money drain. Most roofs wear out after 15 to 20 years (slate lasts longer), inspectors say. Furnaces last between 15 and 20 years; air-conditioning systems last 10 to 15 years.
* Appliances. How old are they? And are they what you want? How much would they cost to replace?
* Windows. Do they all need replacement? That can get expensive.
* Fireplaces. Are they lined? Do they have proper flues? This specialty work is expensive.