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In Brief - What is an Inspection Contingency?

The home inspection contingency is the period in which the buyer has time to perform their "due diligence" of sorts - the time to order the primary inspection, and any others which may apply to that particular property. If the buyer isn't satisfied for any reason,  then they can terminate the sale within the contingency period, and receive all of their earnest money back - unless a portion of the earnest money was actually a "non-refundable deposit" (not the case in most contracts).

In the Puget Sound Region, the "customary" inspection period for a typical single-family home is 7-10 days. However, in this strong seller's market where buyers are forced to try and "win" a bidding war, an inspection period of 5 days (or even less) is becoming more the norm. Unfortunately, so is waiving the inspection contingency completely.

Pre-Inspections Before & After Listing For Sale

A Buyer Pre-Inspection

Buyers do have the option of performing a "pre-inspection" if the seller agrees in writing. In this case, the buyer can have an inspection performed before deciding whether or not to submit an offer.

This can be quite beneficial for the seller too, as it allows them to keep the home "active" on the market. But again, in a hot seller's market where 10-20 or more offers may be expected, many sellers will not accommodate this request - obviously, they don't need to with so many interested buyers. And, it's understandable - they don't want a half-dozen inspectors with their clients picking-apart the home if it can be avoided.

To Waive, or Not to Waive

If as a buyer, you find yourself in a multiple offer situation where no inspections have been performed, and the seller isn't allowing "pre-inspections," please think twice about waiving the inspection. Don't let the emotion of the situation cloud your better  judgment. Even if the home is "new" it should be inspected, builders hire cheap labor and corners get cut all the time – I’ve seen it on numerous occasions.  Why do you think builders have their “own” addendums that usually state they “supercede” your normal  Real Estate Contracts?

The home may appear to be a perfect gem, but that’s usually not the case and it could  have unseen major issues that the Seller may or may not be aware of  - which could cost you thousands of dollars. Do not rely on the Disclosure Statement ! People “Fudge” the truth all the time !

So, don't get caught up in the moment, don’t get inpatient, and don't allow anyone to pressure you. Buying a home without an inspection by a Competent Inspector is like playing Russian Roulette..