What is the difference between an FHA inspection and a home inspection?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Before the Federal Housing Administration guarantees a home loan they want to be sure that the property is structurally sound, safe, and meets their minimum property standards for livability. So they train and certify local independent real estate appraisers to do a basic inspection of the property while they are doing their primary work of determining the fair market value of the home.

   An “FHA inspection” is actually a misnomer. It is correctly referred to in the industry as an “FHA appraisal”—which indicates that the appraiser includes a report on whether the home meets the FHA minimum property standards. The FHA appraiser does not do as thorough or detailed an inspection as a home inspector, but does look for things like:

  • A roof that is leaking or at the end of its lifespan.
  • Structural problems caused by settlement or damage.
  • Deteriorated exterior paint that is not adequately protecting the exterior surfaces.
  • Unsafe electrical or plumbing.
  • Inadequate emergency egress from the bedrooms.

   While the FHA provides guidelines, it allows for the appraiser’s discretion in what constitutes an unsafe condition, and any defects that the appraiser lists will have to corrected before FHA will approve the loan.

    We occasionally get a phone call from someone that wants to know if we are “FHA certified” home inspectors. But there is no requirement that a home inspector be FHA-approved to do a home inspection for a homebuyer applying for an FHA loan. In fact, FHA does not even require that the homebuyer get a home inspection. But they highly recommend it. In fact, HUD requires that applicants for an FHA or VA loan sign a form (shown below) acknowledging that they have been advised to get a home inspection.

   We couldn’t have said it better than this FHA form if we tried. Also, see our blog post The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector?

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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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