Perhaps what makes these two often confused, especially to first-time homebuyers, is that there are several different kinds of each. But stick with us, and we'll break it down for you and demystify the process and purpose of each.
Let's start with the most common of each that you're likely to encounter during your home purchase.
Residential Home Inspection
A Home Inspection is intended to give an unbiased opinion on the condition of the home and its components.
A home inspection is generally considered optional, in that a lender is unlikely to require it. It is usually paid for by the homebuyer and is for the buyer's benefit. There is no pass/fail, this is not a code or compliance inspection (which is usually done by a city employee during a construction or renovation).
Think of it more as a list of the homes' components and their condition. Some examples of what a home inspector looks for is, types of HVAC systems, damaged and deteriorated components, or evidence of past repairs.
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A home appraisal is used to verify the value of a property.
It is used by lenders to verify the value of the home that they are providing a loan on. If you are getting a mortgage, it is a good chance your lender will require an appraisal.
They will look at completely different things than an inspector. Some examples of what an appraisal is looking it are square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, permanently installed appliances, such as furnaces and air conditioners, and also what nearby similar homes have sold for. They use this information to calculate a relative value of the home.