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Do You Need A Home Inspector When Buying A House In New Jersey?

Last updated on: January 26, 2024

Buying a home is one of the largest investments of a lifetime for most people. And finding that special home is an exciting journey. But what lingers behind the facade of a house should not be a surprise after you have signed the paperwork and taken possession. Consequently, an experienced New Jersey real estate attorney would almost always advise about the benefits of having a professional home inspection completed prior to the closing of your new home.

While your seller is legally responsible for making disclosures about known deficits in the house, there are things that your seller may not even be aware of going on with the home. Although a home inspection is not legally required in New Jersey, it is one of the most important things when buying a house to ensure that it is free from mechanical and structural issues before signing on that dotted line.

What is the Difference Between an Inspection and an Appraisal?

A home inspection is a thorough investigation and evaluation of the home’s main structure and mechanical systems. The inspector goes through the home with the proverbial “fine-toothed comb” approach to ensure that there are no significant problems or deficits with it that may be of concern, either in the short-term or longer term. Although some sellers call for an inspection prior to listing the home, in most cases, this will be left up to a buyer after the contract.

An appraisal is a home assessment for the purposes of determining its fair market value. The mortgage company will require an appraisal to ensure that it is worth the price you are paying and the company is lending against. Although an appraisal will be extensive, it will not be extensive in the same way as a home inspection because its purpose is very different.

What Does a Home Inspector Look At?

A home inspector will be at the home for several hours, looking closely at each aspect of its construction and mechanical components, including all major appliances that are conveying. The home inspection will cover:

  • The exterior of the house
  • The foundation
  • The roof, including the support, covering, flashings, and gutters
  • The attic
  • Insulation
  • Electrical system, including wiring, outlets, and breakers
  • All visible plumbing, both inside and outside the home
  • Furnace, air conditioning, and any other HVAC components
  • Interior condition of the home
  • All appliances

What Fixes are Mandatory After a Home Inspection?

Although there are no legal obligations to rectify issues identified during a home inspection, certain problems may necessitate repairs to guarantee the safety and habitability of the property. Prospective buyers should prioritize fixes that address hazards such as:

  • Trip hazards
  • Pest or wildlife infestation
  • Significant structural issues
  • Building code violations
  • Mold or water damage
  • Toxic or chemical risks
  • Fire or electrocution risks

It’s important to note that cosmetic repairs and general wear and tear do not require attention from the seller, as they are considered the buyer’s responsibility. Moreover, buyers must distinguish between repairs they request and those mandated by a lender or insurance company for mortgage underwriting purposes.

New Jersey real estate attorney

In some cases, financial institutions or insurance providers may deny mortgage loans or coverage if they find the inspection results unsatisfactory. In such situations, the buyer must undertake specific mandatory fixes to secure a mortgage loan, particularly in states like New Jersey with stringent regulations.

By addressing these critical concerns, buyers can ensure they invest in a safe, habitable home, while sellers can enhance the likelihood of a smooth transaction. Tackling significant hazards not only safeguards all parties involved but also contributes to the overall improvement of the property’s quality. A thorough understanding of mandatory fixes and their implications can help both buyers and sellers navigate the home inspection process more effectively.

Contingency and Home Inspection

The home inspection contingency is a pivotal step that can protect a buyer’s investment and provide peace of mind. This clause, typically embedded in real estate contracts, serves as a shield, offering buyers the prerogative to re-evaluate the deal or negotiate remedies based on the findings of a home inspection.

Although New Jersey law doesn’t mandate the hiring of a home inspector, the prudent advice of top real estate attorneys in the state is to never skip this crucial step. The home inspection contingency is your line of defense, ensuring you’re not walking into a costly mistake. It empowers you to thoroughly examine the property, from the stability of the foundation to the integrity of the roof, and from the efficiency of the HVAC system to the safety of the electrical wiring.

When issues are uncovered, buyers can either negotiate for repairs, seek a price reduction, or, if the problems are too severe, withdraw from the purchase altogether. It’s a rare scenario when a buyer waives this contingency, and doing so is widely regarded as a gamble. Even those with intentions to rebuild should consider the risks of unforeseen environmental hazards.

The cost of a home inspection in New Jersey ranges between $400 and $600, varying with property size. While this may seem like an additional expense, it’s a minor cost compared to the potential risks. Moreover, most mortgage lenders necessitate an inspection before approving a loan, essentially integrating the home inspection into the buying process.

The initial inspection might indicate the need for further specialized evaluations, like mold testing or wood-destroying insect inspections. In such cases, a buyer must weigh the cost of additional inspections against the potential deal-breakers they may uncover.

The home inspection contingency isn’t just a clause in a contract—it’s an invaluable opportunity for buyers to make informed decisions and secure their investment. Leveraging the experience and legal knowledge of a New Jersey real estate attorney can guide you through this process, ensuring that you are well-informed and protected every step of the way.

The Benefits of a Home Inspection

A professional home inspection can save a buyer hundreds if not thousands of dollars in unforeseen repair costs and allow an out if structural issues are found that he or she doesn’t care to inherit.

The home inspector is trained to find any faults in the home’s structure, code compliance issues, presence of current or previous water damage, mold, or other concerning conditions. Having a comprehensive home inspection completed offers the buyer the ability to ask for corrections from the seller or negotiate the price to offset any corrections the buyer will need to make.

Buying a home can be exciting and yet overwhelming. Having the advice of an experienced New Jersey real estate attorney offers peace of mind and ensures that there will be no lingering issues in your home-buying experience. At Matus Law Group, we will guide you through all facets of buying your new home. Contact us to learn more.

Home Inspection Appraisal
Purpose To identify any significant problems or deficits with the home To determine the fair market value of the property
Focus Main structure and mechanical systems of the home Overall value assessment of the property
Conducted by A professional home inspector A licensed or certified appraiser
Requested by Typically initiated by the buyer Usually required by the mortgage company or lender
Timing Often done after the contract is signed Usually performed during the mortgage application process
Extensiveness Thorough investigation with a fine-toothed comb approach Comprehensive evaluation, but not as detailed as a home inspection
Concerns Identifies potential problems or defects that need attention Determines if the property’s value supports the loan amount
Report Detailed report highlighting any issues or concerns found Detailed report including property information and appraised value
Cost Paid for by the buyer Paid for by the buyer or included in closing costs

Christine Matus

Christine Matus
Christine Matus

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