Eight reasons why vacation home inspections are important

Why you need a vacation home inspection, even if you plan to use it as a vacation rental

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When you set home sale conditions that include a vacation home inspection, you’re setting yourself up to make an informed decision about a particular vacation rental investment. As many real estate agents will tell you, a vacation home inspection will likely turn up some imperfections, big or small. And it’s better to know about them upfront.

At first you might think the expense of a vacation home inspection isn’t worth it for a property that won’t be your primary residence. But the potential for savings, safety, and comfort is too important to leave up to chance. Here are eight reasons why a vacation home inspection can be a good idea.

1. There could be hidden, costly issues.

Buying a vacation home is one of the largest purchases you are likely to make. Use the home inspection to understand the state of the home’s systems, infrastructure, and less obvious conditions. While sellers are obligated to disclose certain known defects about the property, there are plenty of things they might not know about (e.g., black mold in the crawl space or termites in an attic joist).

2. A home inspection helps keep everyone safe and sound.

Vacation home inspections can reveal structural issues with the home, like cracks in the foundation or a leaky roofline. Over time, these structural issues invite in water damage, pests, and general structural instability that can be costly—and disruptive—to repair. Inspections can also reveal unseen dangers like carcinogenic radon exposure, or less obvious risks like faulty wiring that could lead to flooding or pipes made from materials that can contaminate the water. These risks alone make a vacation home inspection supremely important.

3. Inspections can uncover un-permitted changes.

A vacation home inspection can tell you what, if any, work has been done on the house, and it can reveal whether the work was done correctly and if it's up to code. Permitting shortcuts or improperly completed work can affect:

  • Home value
  • Insurance costs or access to insurance
  • Access to loans

4. Inspection results can be used in price negotiations.

Depending on the conditions you set for your inspection results, you may be in a position to leverage the findings for a financial break on your vacation home. It’s not uncommon to negotiate for a price reduction if you plan to pay for the repairs needed. Or, you may be able to persuade the seller to fix some or all of the issues on their dollar.

5. An inspection can give you an “out.”

Your real estate agent can write conditions into your offer to protect your earnest money, in the event that you need to walk away from the deal due to issues unearthed in the home inspection. Such conditions could also protect your earnest money if you and the seller try to negotiate on repairs but are unable to reach an agreement.

6. An inspection can help predict future home issues.

Vacation home inspections can help you understand the age and condition of your home’s systems and infrastructure, so you can predict when you’ll need to replace things like a furnace, appliances, or roofing. This will help you dial in your operating costs and budgets for future repairs.

It can also help determine what insurance coverage or warranties you might want to pursue. If the vacation home you’re looking to buy is part of a homeowner’s association (HOA), you can also gain some insight into how well the property’s exterior has been managed and the overall value of HOA dues.

7. Vacation rental inspections are often required.

It’s not uncommon for local communities to require home inspections on vacation rental investments, even in cities that aren’t heavily regulated. These inspections are designed, in part, to empower home buyers and protect short-term rental guests from risk and unhealthy exposures. They also support the local economy with opportunities for home inspectors and contractors to serve homeowners with care and responsiveness.

8. You can trust that your vacation home is built to last.

If you’re one of the thousands of vacation rental investors who plan to retire at your property several years down the road, you absolutely want a home inspection—even if you’re planning to rent your home out to short-term vacation rental guests first.

Yes, there will be wear and tear on your vacation home before you retire there. And, yes, you’ll likely want an inspection before you finally move in. But, an inspection now can help ensure that the last place you plan to call home is, in fact, a home that’s built to last. You don’t want to face potentially dangerous or costly inspection issues in your golden years. The peace of mind gained from understanding your home inspection results can go a long, long way.


Vacation rental inspection FAQ

A home inspection is an important expense now that can possibly save you a lot of time and money later. The home inspection process can give you peace of mind, knowing that you’re going into an investment with as much knowledge as possible. It can also give you a heads up about repairs that might need to be made long-term, and uncover potentially costly fixes you might not be willing to take on in the end.

A real estate agent may tell you that your offer on a home is stronger if you choose to forgo an inspection. But in the end, buying a home without an inspection means a stronger offer for the seller—not necessarily an offer that keeps you in a position of strength.

if you need to write a highly competitive offer, talk to your agent about conditions that set limits on repair costs rather than forgoing an inspection. For example, you might agree not to trouble the seller with any repairs less than $500, or some other number that makes sense for you. The seller will feel reassured that you won’t nickel-and-dime them, and your deal can move forward.

Here are a few things we advise looking out for in vacation rental inspections:

  • Construction that’s un-permitted, not up to code, or not done properly
  • Structural issues, such as cracks in the foundation or a leaky roof
  • Potential dangers like radon or faulty wiring
  • The age of fixtures that are costly to replace, like the furnace and appliances

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* This document is for information and illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to provide “investment advice” or a “recommendation” regarding a course of action. The discussion is general in nature and has not taken into account your personal financial position or objectives. You should consult a licensed financial advisor or other professional to discuss your specific situation.