Tight housing market forces buyers to continue to skip inspections

Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 5:32 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In a housing market with little inventory and high-interest rates, many buyers are still forgoing inspections. During the past few years, many homebuyers skipped out on home inspections in order to appear more attractive to sellers in the competitive market. We checked in again and found the situation is persisting.

“I’m in Addison County. And so in my local area this time of year, we might have 250 listings on the market, and right now there’s between 25 and 30 for the whole county,” said Sarah Peluso, the president of the Vermont Association of Realtors.

She says it’s tricky for homebuyers trying to get into the market because interest rates are high and it’s hard to compete. As a result, while Peluso doesn’t recommend it, skipping inspections is a choice some buyers are making to make themselves more competitive.

“It’s just because we continue to have so many multiple offer situations. That is something that has become much more commonplace,” Peluso said.

She also said it took several years to get into this severe inventory shortage and she believes it’s going to take several years to climb out of it.

The lack of inspections is trickling down to the inspectors, who say they’re hurting without the business.

“This time you hear we typically are turning down business, and I’ve laid people off and where I’ve got to believe below 50%. I think that would be indicative of most inspectors in the state,” said Steve Dukette, the president of the Vermont Association of Professional Home Inspectors.

Last year, home inspectors were yearning for business and Dukette says home inspection rates continue to slide. In 2020, his business completed 730 inspections. That number has gone down every year since. He says for 2023, they’re projecting 260 inspections, and that many in the home inspection field have retired or are seeking other job opportunities from the lack of available work.

“Some of them have gotten back into the trades, you know, building maintenance, doing additions, contracting, that kind of thing to kind of fill the void till this market can turn around. Myself, I’ve gotten into the house renovations. So, that’s what we have to do to survive,” said Dukette. He says it almost feels like 20 years ago, before inspections were a key part of any real estate transaction process. “The money that you spent typically on a home inspection, you get back pretty quickly by recommendations and maintenance, recommendations and so forth and prioritizing what needs to happen to the home.”

Peluso says inspections are a learning experience for homebuyers to understand a house and a chance to make sure everything is safe and working properly. Getting an inspection is something they highly recommend.

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