Hey, Buyers: Inspectors Can Predict the Future—and 8 Other Common Home Inspection Myths

After seeing dozens of duds, you’ve found the perfect house. You’re all set with pre-approved financing and a grand vision of how you’ll make this place look fabulous. Best of all, after some nail-biting negotiations, the seller has finally accepted your offer.

You’re done, right?

Well, not quite yet. There’s still the home inspection—arguably the most important step of the home-buying process. Simply put, it can make or break the sale.

Of course, you probably know that the inspection is meant to, well, inspect the house and suss out any problems. But you may very well be making some sweeping—and perhaps false—assumptions about how these professionals work.

It can be confusing, we know. So join us as we debunk some of the most common home inspection myths.

Myth No. 1: A home inspection is the same thing as a home appraisal

In fact, these two things could not be more different, says Tim Buell, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and a retired home inspector in Hilliard, OH.

“An appraiser’s function is to determine the value of a house on behalf of the lending institution,” he says. “Home inspectors are only interested in the safety of the home—not the value.”

That means if the seller offers up a glowing appraisal report, you shouldn’t be swayed into thinking you’ve just saved yourself the price of a home inspection. Got it?

Myth No. 2: Home inspectors can advise you on whether to buy the house

“That’s not my field of expertise,” says ASHI’s Executive Director Frank Lesh, of the Home Sweet Home Inspection Co. in Chicago. “Often people ask, ‘Would you buy this house?’ I can only tell you about the functioning portions of the house, not whether you should buy it.”

And don’t forget: Even though most inspections are done at the buyer’s request, inspectors are impartial. If you think inspections are meant to help the buyer renegotiate the purchase price, Buell says, think again.

Myth No. 3: It doesn’t matter which inspector you hire

In the U.S., only 30 states require licensing for home inspectors, according to the ASHI. But even licensed inspectors have various levels of training or certification, so it’s up to the buyer (you) to find a competent professional.

“Just because someone is licensed doesn’t mean they’re qualified,” Lesh says. “It means they have met a minimum requirement for their license.”

Do your homework by getting referrals from professional associations, agents, and other homeowners, and then checking references thoroughly.

Myth No. 4: The inspector will uncover every single thing that’s wrong with the house

Much as you wish they could, home inspectors simply cannot check every nook and cranny, Buell says.

“People think we can see behind walls, but I’m not Superman—I don’t have X-ray vision,” he adds.

Rather, home inspectors are guests in the seller’s home, which limits what they can do.

“We can’t tear into a wall to look behind it, or rip something apart to see why it’s making a noise,” he says. “We’re there for a visual inspection of readily accessible areas of the home, so if there’s a china cabinet in front of something, we’re not going to move it.”

That said, home inspectors do use specialized tools such as infrared cameras and moisture meters that allow them to gather more information. But buyers should be realistic about what they’ll learn, Buell notes.

For example: If you’re buying a house in the middle of the winter, an inspector probably won’t be able to check a roof with 3 feet of snow on it. Instead, they’ll check the attic sheathing for signs of leaks.

Myth No. 5: Buyers don’t belong at the home inspection

It doesn’t matter whether you know anything about home construction and maintenance. “Buyers absolutely should be there, without question,” Lesh insists. “I can go into more detail [than in the report], and you’ll have a three-dimensional view.”

Lesh also encourages all buyers—especially first-timers—to ask questions. While home inspectors can’t tell you whether to buy the house, they can share maintenance tips and advice.

Myth No. 6: Brand-new homes don’t need to be inspected

Faulty construction can lead to all kinds of repair nightmares in the future, so sparkly new houses need to be checked—maybe even more carefully than older ones, Lesh says.

“With a house that’s already been lived in … I can see whether there are signs of leakage, mold, or anything that occurs over a period of time,” he explains. “If it’s a brand-new house, nobody has showered in that shower or used the appliances, so it absolutely should be inspected, even though it’s under warranty.”

In related news…

Myth No. 7: A flipped home doesn’t need to be inspected, either

If everything was redone top to bottom, there’s no point checking it out, right? C’mon—you know better.

“Unfortunately, some flippers are more interested in money than safety,” Buell says. “If a house has been flipped, you’ll want to make sure that they had the right building permits, and that code inspectors verified the remodeling work.”

Myth No. 8: Home inspectors can predict the future

Lesh once had a client whose father wanted to know exactly how long the furnace would last.

“I opened my case and said, ‘Oh, gosh, I forgot my crystal ball,’” Lesh recalls.

“A home inspection is a snapshot in time,” Buell says. “We can tell you how old certain appliances are, and what the useful life of something is. … But we don’t know when a plumbing leak is going to happen or when a fuse will break on an electric panel.”

Lesh does, however, tell clients that everything in the house will need to be replaced at some point. Best practice? Budget 1% of the value of the house per year for maintenance.

Myth No. 9: A good house will ‘pass’ the inspection

Home inspection reports will never indicate whether a property passes or fails, Lesh says. That’s because everything depends on a buyer’s tolerance level: What’s acceptable for one buyer could cause another to walk away.

“I’m the judge of the house in terms of whether it’s safe,” Lesh explains. “But I always ask people: Can you live with this?”

If you can, then the house passes your test. And that’s all that matters.

Maryland’s Wild ‘Mushroom House’ on the Market Again After Extensive Remodel

One of the most unusual homes in Bethesda, MD—the so-called mushroom house—is back on the market after an extensive remodel. It’s looking for a new owner who will appreciate its unique design, which looks as if it stepped straight out of the pages of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel.

The house last traded hands for $920,000 in 2015, when Brian Vaughn, co-founder of a Virginia-based IT services firm, fell in love with the home’s quirky, organic design.

“I hate traditional. It’s boring. I live in Bethesda for crying out loud,” Vaughn told the Washingtonian. “I thought it would just be a fun place for parties, and my daughter was 11 or 12 when I bought it. She was nuts for it. She just absolutely loved it.”

Exterior
Exterior

Compass

Built in 1923, the house appeared similar to the other homes in the neighborhood. But in the late 1960s, Edward and Frances Garfinkle bought the house and commissioned futurist architect Roy Mason to use wire mesh and durable polyurethane to transform it into something that looks like it grew out of the ground.

Locals call it the mushroom house, the Hobbit house, the Flintstones house, and the Smurf house. It regularly appears in books and on websites listing Maryland’s many roadside attractions. Countless passersby have stopped to take photos of the house, which Edward Garfinkle once called more effective at slowing down traffic on his street than a speed bump.

Vaughn remodeled the 5,500-square-foot, six-bedroom, six-bath home from top to bottom. He updated the interior, finished the basement, renovated the kitchen and bathrooms, and added a new balcony over the living room. The result is an elegant, modern, and unique house.

Most of the home’s walls, doorways, cutouts, and interior windows curve, arch, or are otherwise shaped like circles or ovals.

The open living room has a 30-foot-tall ceiling, curving fireplace, wet bar, projector, and open loft, which Vaughn set up as a jam band area.

Living room
Living room

Compass

Second story
Second story

Compass

Loft
Loft

Compass

Vaughn remodeled the kitchen with dark wood, modern cabinets, a stone backsplash, recessed lighting, and stainless-steel appliances. The previous kitchen had 1970s-era, bright-blue cabinetry.

Kitchen
Kitchen

Compass

Elsewhere, he updated the home’s bathrooms and interior doors, and added other high-end finishes.

Master bedroom
Master bedroom

Compass

Bedroom
Bedroom

Compass

Game room
Game room

Compass

He finished the basement, and renovated the home’s separate, one-bedroom apartment.

If you’re interested in buying the mushroom house, it’ll likely set you back more than $1.55 million. Realtor Jill Schwartz, a Realtor®, is privately marketing the home ahead of listing it publicly, the Washingtonian reports.

After Splitting From Husband, Naya Rivera Lists Her Los Feliz Home for $3.87M

Looks like former “Glee” star Naya Rivera is attempting to make a fresh start. Last week, the actress put her lovely Los Feliz home on the market for $3.87 million.

Until late last year, Rivera lived in the East Coast traditional–style home with actor Ryan Dorsey, whom she wed in 2014. About six months ago, Rivera filed for divorce. The Los Angeles home, which she purchased in 2013 for $2.6 million, was recently refreshed and restored.

Built in 1938, the home retains some of its original features, including the plaster moldings, African mahogany paneling and shelving, large balconies, soaring tongue and groove ceilings, bay windows, French doors, and the grand staircase in the double-story entry.

Naya Rivera’s Los Feliz home

realtor.com

Living room

realtor.com

The 4,330-square-foot house has five bedrooms and 3.5-bathrooms. The master suite has been reconfigured to include dual walk-in closets. In the master bath, you’ll find a soaking tub along with all-new tile and fixtures strategically selected for a charming old-fashioned feel.

Master bath

realtor.com

The kitchen has been redesigned with a large island, stylish hardware, and state-of-the-art appliances, while a wine room and media room have been added.

Kitchen

realtor.com

Wine room

realtor.com

The pool, spa, and deck have also been refreshed.

Backyard with pool and spa

realtor.com

The entire property is in pristine condition and looks expertly staged in the listing photos. Perfectly designed book cases with color-coordinated volumes strategically placed are a certain tell. The laundry area truly gives it away—the room features two washers and two dryers, some with manufacturer tags and labels still attached.

Family room

realtor.com

Laundry room

Naya Rivera

Rivera, 31, won SAG, Alma, and People’s Choice awards for her portrayal of Santana Lopez on “Glee.” Since then, she’s starred in the Lifetime drama series “Devious Maids,” and written a dishy memoir titled “Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up.” Most recently, she played a school administrator in the YouTube Red series “Step Up: High Water.”

How Free Tacos, Beer, and Other Fun Extras Can Help Sell Your Home

You know how offering a free gift with purchase can be that extra something that persuades buyers to stop, take a look, and then open their pocketbooks to pay up? Well, that same approach works for selling homes, too. It’s psychology 101: Adding an unexpected benefit—beyond the home itself—can get potential buyers thinking, “Wow, I’m getting not only a home, but this other cool thing for free!” It’s a sales tactic few can resist.

So if you think your home sale needs a little something extra, check out these creative ideas below. While we couldn’t always verify whether these tactics resulted in a sale, one thing that’s clear is these freebies did garner tons of attention—and hey, that’s half the battle!

Free tacos

freebie
Nicole Lopez’s offer of free tacos generated a lot of buzz.

Nicole Lopez/Instagram

Who doesn’t love tacos? At least, that’s what Cypress, TX–based real estate agent Nicole Lopez must have thought in January when she decided to post a very special “For Sale” sign in front of a home she was trying to sell: “$250 in free tacos with purchase of this home.”

News of this “free tacos” sign soon went viral on Facebook, landing Lopez on local TV, where she claimed she was “inundated with calls from around the country and Canada.” Within a month, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house—listed for $170,000—had found buyers who said they definitely planned to throw a taco party to celebrate their new property.

Meanwhile, Lopez has dubbed herself “the original taco Realtor®” as she expects others may try the same tactic.

“We’ll take (imitation),” she told local news channel KPCR 2. “If it helps people sell homes, we’re all for it.”

A free car

Buy this home, get a free car!

realtor.com

A real estate developer in a Chicago suburb facing a sales slowdown in April 2011 went the way of game shows with the perk he offered buyers: a new car!

Developer Kim Meier included a $17,000 credit at a General Motors dealership. “We needed to do something dramatic,” Meier told the New York Times. “The market’s been soft.” Seven sales soon followed.

And others have followed in his tracks: In 2014, a Boca Raton, FL, seller asking for $3.5 million for a six-bedroom home (pictured above) was willing to throw in a car worth about $100,000!

According to the Sun Sentinel, he even offered a choice: a Ferrari 360 Spider convertible or an open-top Hummer H1. (The Hummer, by the way, was worth a bit more than the Ferrari.) Decisions, decisions!

Alas, no buyers bit, but as far as publicity goes, we still think this is the most impressive carrot we’ve seen yet.

Free beer and beer pong cups

Beer and beer pong cups included with this place.

realtor.com

In 2015, the owner of a tiny bungalow in Los Angeles offered to treat the home buyers to beer—plus cups—for a celebratory game of beer pong.

“Whoever buys this house, I will buy the beer for the beer pong,” seller and listing agent David De Anda told realtor.com. “They will get cups and beer purchased by the owner. We definitely want to celebrate right.”

Why beer pong? De Anda described the renovated one-bedroom, one-bathroom house as a “fun” place where beer pong would complement the atmosphere. And apparently it worked: The listing went up in February with the asking price of $269,000 and sold for $330,000 in September that year.

Free pizza

After watching a Lancaster, PA–based home languish on the market for six months, real estate agent Doug Miller decided to think outside the box—the pizza box, that is. So in 2013, he hung a “free pizza with purchase of home” sign in front of the place he was selling, listed for $259,900.

It was enough to land him on the local news. “I just thought it was kind of cute and would grab attention,” Miller told WGAL 8.

While we can’t verify whether this sales ploy worked, here’s one question worth pondering: Is one pizza enough? As one local resident interviewed by WGAL pointed out, “It should have been a year of free pizza.”

Other fun freebies

  • Boat and water skis: Real estate agent Michael L. Jones had a waterfront listing where the seller offered to throw in a small boat. “I’ve also seen Jet Skis made part of other waterfront deals,” says Jones.
  • Gym membership: San Francisco–based real estate agent Roh Habibi has seen success when sellers throw in a free year-long Equinox gym membership. “You would be amazed at how many buyers love this gift,” says Habibi.
  • First year’s HOA fees: Fred McGill, CEO and co-founder of SimpleShowing, remembers a buyer in Atlanta who was interested in a loft where the HOA fees were $200 a month. In order to seal the deal, the seller paid the first year’s HOA fees, or $2,400.
  • Paid utility bills: According to Nate Masterson, a finance manager for Maple Holistics, “We had a seller who offered to cover half of the buyer’s utility bills for the first two months as an incentive to get the house sold.”
  • A vacation voucher: Dustin Turner of the Home Team at Keller Williams Realty, in Central Arkansas, says the most interesting incentive he’s seen was a free vacation. “Savvy sellers can buy vacation travel vouchers from online vendors and give away a free vacation with the purchase of their home,” says Turner. “While this splashy approach might not appeal to every buyer, it will generate a lot of attention to the listing, and maybe just close the deal.”

 

Shaquille O’Neal Selling $28M Florida Megamansion He Bought 25 Years Ago

NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal is saying goodbye to Shaq-apulco, the sprawling, 31,000-square-foot megamansion in Windermere, FL, he picked up in 1993, when he was a rookie with the Orlando Magic.

The 46-year-old former center spent a little under $4 million for the house, fresh out of college and just one year into his first NBA contract. Shaq-apulco remained O’Neal’s primary home for the next 25 years, even as he moved around the NBA, playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics.

O’Neal routinely took reporters on tours of the house, and even shot an episode of “MTV Cribs” there.

Now, in retirement, he’s selling the supersize, 12-bedroom home because he’s spending more time in Atlanta as a basketball analyst for TNT. He’s listed the mansion for $28 million.

Exterior
Aerial view

realtor.com

The house is larger than life and audacious, much like the homeowner himself.

Built in 1990, the house and its 4 acres are located on the shores of Lake Butler inside Isleworth, a gated golf community a short drive from Orlando.

Private beach
Private beach

realtor.com

The front doors open to a two-story foyer with double princess staircases. Just off the foyer is the formal dining room. Listing photos show a stone banquet table that must weigh hundreds of pounds. Each of the chairs in the house are oversized, to fit O’Neal’s 7-foot-1, 325-pound frame.

Just beyond the double staircases, the great room alone clocks in at 1,170 square feet. It has a stone fireplace that reaches the two-story ceiling. There’s a bank of large windows looking out to the lake.

Great room
Great room

realtor.com

The kitchen has an L-shaped breakfast bar, chef’s island, double refrigerators, and high-end appliances. There’s a double-sided stone fireplace next to the kitchen table.

Kitchen
Kitchen

realtor.com

On the other side of the that fireplace is the living room, which photos show was once home to a big rig truck chopped in half, with a Superman grill and “Diesel” painted across its gleaming fender.

Living room
Living room

realtor.com

O’Neal is a baller of many nicknames. In the early ’90s, he went by “Diesel,” releasing a platinum-selling hiphop album, “Shaq Diesel,” in 1993.

Speaking of nicknames, Superman references are found throughout Shaq-apulco. His 15-by-30-foot bed is emblazoned with the Superman logo, the lighting in his home theater has Superman logos, and many of his vehicles parked in the 17-car garage feature Superman emblems. There’s even a full-size Superman statue parked at the end of his dock.

Master bedroom
Master bedroom

realtor.com

Home theater
Home theater

realtor.com

O’Neal’s master bedroom is 900 square feet, with a fireplace, projector, four-room walk-in closet, his-and-her master baths, and two balconies.

The indoor basketball court has a Miami Heat logo, framed memorabilia, and low-rise bleachers.

Basketball court
Basketball court

realtor.com

Outside, there’s a 95-foot-long pool that’s 15 feet deep at the far end, with a rock waterfall. Elsewhere, there’s an Egyptian-themed room with a saltwater fish tank, walk-in humidor, outdoor kitchen, cabana, and privacy wall.

Pool
Pool

realtor.com

Office
Office

realtor.com

Egyptian room
Egyptian room

realtor.com

O’Neal is a four-time NBA champion as well as a 15-time NBA All-Star and can now be seen on “Inside the NBA” on TNT. He managed to spin his dominant NBA career into music and acting, appearing in 1996’s feature film “Kazaam” and countless Pepsi commercials.