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My husband and I recently bought a home in the Washington, DC, area. Battle-scarred after losing several bidding wars, we felt victorious winning our home prize. But, getting caught up in the buying frenzy of the 2021 market, we waived the right to inspect our home, which has led to some expensive surprises and costs.

Having owned several other houses in our lifetime and feeling trust in our real-estate agent, we mistook some of the nice finishes and little extras, such as nice appliances and window shutters, as signs that everything was in good order.

Before bidding, we got to check it out for less than 45 minutes. We dashed around from room to room trying to ascertain for ourselves whether anything smelled, looked, or seemed problematic. We tried to curb our enthusiasm for the home and use critical eyes as we peeked under sinks and behind toilets, examined the below-ground basement, studied ceilings, and checked the hot-water heater and HVAC system.

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We felt trepidation but knew our offer wouldn't be considered if it were contingent on a home inspection. Why would two seasoned adults who have owned several homes during their lifetime make such a foolish move? And buy their most expensive home yet? We paid several thousand dollars above asking price, which was normal in this market and neighborhood. Simply put, we got swept up in the market.

Things went south quickly

Part of our agreement with the previous owners included a three-month delay on closing, which was fine for us. But we didn't get back into the house before closing except for a couple of brief visits to measure for furniture placement. And these opportunities were considered generous because home sellers typically don't want buyers to enter the home before closing. We made our measurements under the watchful eye of the listing agent.

After closing, we were living in our new home exactly one week when the kitchen sink had a major backup. It was a Friday night, so we had to turn off all the water and wait for the morning to get a plumber, who discovered a major plumbing design flaw. The kitchen was enlarged as part of an ambitious renovation. The redesign placed the kitchen sink at the far end of the kitchen and a very long way from the master drain. As a result, the sink regularly backs up, requiring a plumber to snake the master drain — an expensive and unpleasant situation.

Then we discovered that one of the upstairs bathrooms had a massive flood two years before we moved in. We learned this only after our bid was accepted, and we would have had to forfeit the money we'd already put forth, which was a good part of the down payment, if we backed out of the contract. The subsequent repair work was subpar, including bathroom installation, drywalling, and painting. We have been patching and repairing many of these issues as we discover them.

Finally, we realize the house probably still holds undiscovered surprises. We have discussed getting an inspection now to learn, after the fact, what we should have learned before we bought.

What to consider when buying in this market

Consider these things before you submit a bid on your "dream" home. Remember, this market is called a seller's market because there are more buyers than sellers, so competition to buy is fierce and you will be pressured to make uncomfortable concessions.

1. If you're a novice homebuyer, never buy a home without either a pre-inspection or an inspection contingency in your offer

If there is no time for a pre-inspection and you are advised not to include this request in your offer because your bid won't be competitive, then pass on the house.

2. Don't get caught up in a frantic housing market in which competing offers pressure you to offer more and ask for less than is comfortable 

Though experts have opined that we are not in a housing bubble, chances are the market will settle and then you can pursue your homebuying dream.

3. Bring an experienced homeowner with you when you look at a home you really like

This person should know what to look for: leaks, cracks, foundation settling, mold, and mildew. 

4. Engage your own buyer's agent

You need to trust your real-estate agent to be your advocate and look for signs of trouble when viewing a property. Work with an experienced agent.

5. Don't trust photos online

These photos are staged, lighted, and manipulated to fool you. Never put a bid on a home you have not seen with your own eyes.

Source : https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/first-time-homebuyers-should-know-before-waiving-inspection-2021-9

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