Don’t Be Fooled by These 6 Home Inspection Myths

Having a professional home inspection done is one of the most important boxes to check off your home buying “to do” list. Unfortunately, home inspection myths run rampant in real estate, and those misunderstandings can lead to unrealistic expectations and potential miscommunication.

To help set things straight, let’s debunk six of the most common myths you’re sure to hear.

Myth #1: An inspection is a guarantee
This is a big one, and before we clear it up, let’s first explain what a home inspection is. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) defines a home inspection as “an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.”

ASHI standards of practice say an inspection report covers, “the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.”

But, as knowledgeable as inspectors are, they can’t see through walls and they can’t predict the future. A home inspection is not a warranty or a guarantee that nothing will break or fail in the months or years to come.

Jason Murton with Accurate Inspections, LLC, says homes are mechanical in nature, and that means problems can arise at any time.

“We’re looking at a home at a specific point in time,” he said. “We can provide an estimate on the useful life of a system or appliance, but we don’t know when a plumbing leak might happen or if a storm will come through and cause damage to the roof.”

Myth #2: Buyers should not be present during an inspection
Most professional inspectors say this cannot be further from the truth. Murton encourages buyers to attend the inspection, ask questions, and take advantage of what he calls “a great educational opportunity,” especially for first-time homeowners.

“They’re able to learn about the inner workings of the home, understand what type of routine maintenance they’ll be responsible for, and get a feeling for future repairs or updates they may need to make down the road,” he said. “For instance, the furnace may be in great working condition, but it’s life expectancy may only be another five years. Knowing that ahead of time gives buyers the opportunity to plan ahead for that expense.”

Myth #3: A home either “passes” or “fails” an inspection
Murton says it’s not uncommon to finish an inspection only to have a buyer ask: did it pass? He explains that an inspector cannot give an opinion about whether to purchase a particular home, and they won’t tell you if a home “passes” or “fails.”

“Everyone’s tolerance level is different,” he said. “For a buyer who is looking for a fixer-upper, or one who is buying a house to ‘flip,’ a long list of repairs probably won’t phase them. But for a buyer who is hesitant to deal with many issues, more than a few repairs could scare them away. It really comes down to each buyer’s comfort level and whether or not it passes their test.”

Myth #4: A home inspection is the same as an appraisal
An inspection and an appraisal are both critical steps in the homebuying process, but they serve completely different purposes.

An inspector works for the buyer, providing a thorough report of a home’s condition. An appraiser, however, provides an opinion of a property’s value on behalf of a mortgage lender. For some loan types, like FHA or Rural Development, an appraiser must ensure that a property meets minimum standards. In those instances, an appraiser will point out basic health and safety concerns that need to be corrected, but it’s still not a substitute for a professional inspection.

Myth #5: New construction does not need to be inspected
Building a home is a complex process that involves several different subcontractors and many employees. With separate activities going on simultaneously, it’s possible for something to be overlooked. Even the best builders with the best intentions can make mistakes.

You also need to consider resale. When or if you decide to sell, your buyer will likely have a home inspection. Any issues that date back to the original construction — ones you never knew existed — will likely be discovered. At this point, the expense of fixing those issues falls on your shoulders, not the builder’s.

“We often find more errors or deficiencies in new construction than we do in older houses,” said Murton. “Brand new homes haven’t been lived in and tested the way established properties have. Yes, there are code inspections done by the municipality, but they aren’t an all-inclusive look at the home.”

This same misconception also applies to properties that have been “flipped.” Unfortunately, there are inexperienced “flippers” out there and some are only interested in getting the job done quickly and for the cheapest price.

Myth #6: All inspectors are the same
A home inspection is only as good as the inspector doing it. When researching professionals, don’t be afraid to ask the important questions. How long have you been inspecting homes? What are your qualifications and certifications? Are you also a licensed contractor or builder? What kind of report do you provide?

“In Michigan, there is no licensure for home inspectors, so buyers really need to check credentials,” said Murton. “Ideally, you want an experienced inspector who is certified through a professional organization like ASHI and keeps up with continuing education and certifications.”

For a listing of local, professional inspectors visit the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® website at