Last Updated on January 16, 2023 by Bob Filipczak
If you are looking to learn about VA loan inspection requirements, you won’t find any. Truth be told, the VA loan system does not require home inspections before deciding whether you are eligible or not. They do, however, require appraisals, but that is a different kettle of fish. We will explain that later. What’s important to recognize is that the home inspection protects you, veterans or active-duty military members, as you hunt for a home. So don’t skip this step.
If the VA loan process does not have VA loan inspection requirements, why bother? Because the VA is only half of the equation of finding and qualifying for a mortgage for your new home. The other half of the equation is a VA-qualified lender, a private mortgage broker or bank, who actually lend you the money. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs only insures and guarantees the loan. We say “only” but that insurance is a pretty big deal.
Private lenders are going to request and require additional information about your life and your purchase in order to approve the mortgage. Credit scores, credit history, income history and loan history are things the private lender will likely require before finalizing a mortgage with you. VA loan inspection requirements may become part of the mortgage lenders expectations for you to qualify for a loan.
What they won’t require, when the VA insures your mortgage, is the down payment and private mortgage insurance (PMI), and those two elements will save you thousands of dollars up front and thousands more over the life of your mortgage when compared to a conventional loan. In addition, you will probably get a lower interest rate on your loan with the federal government VA guarantee, saving you money every month.
No VA Loan Inspection Requirements, But an Appraisal Is
Finding information about VA home loan inspection requirements can be confusing because a lot of folks think a home inspection is the same as a home property appraisal. It’s easy to do. There is a lot of overlap between what a home inspector looks for when he or she is evaluating your property and what a home appraiser is looking for. But the differences are important.
The first fact to remember is that the VA loan program requirements do include an appraisal. You need to hire and pay for a VA appraisal process. Its requirements can be found on the VA appraisal checklist.
The second thing to remember is the difference between an appraisal and an inspection.
The appraiser is looking at the home you want to buy and evaluating it for the property’s value — it’s appraised value. They want to know what the house is worth in terms of dollars and cents. With that in mind, they will look at comparable similar homes, bedrooms, baths, square footage and everything that affects the value of the house. The appraiser is doing his job to protect the interests of the bank. They don’t want to lend you more money than the value of the property, for obvious reasons.
The inspector, on the other hand, is there to make sure your house is safe and up to local building codes. They typically dig deeper into the property and its structural issues. Inspectors are there to protect you from buying a money pit, a property that has so many hidden major issues that you will need to fix that it will create major financial and safety issues for you in the future.
Home appraisers protect the lender; while home inspectors protect you and your family.
So even though there are no VA loan home inspection requirements, it’s still a good idea to get one for your own protection.
It’s important to note that there will be some overlap in what appraisers and inspectors are looking for. For example, they will both look at the roof and any structural problems. Both will be concerned that the appliances are in good condition. Both will evaluate plumbing for potential problems. They will simply be looking at the property for different reasons.
It’s Just a Regular Inspection
Chances are your private lender you work with is going to require a home inspection of the property you want to buy, so don’t worry too much about missing this step. What kinds of things are involved in a typical, traditional inspection? There we turn to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). They have two lists.
The first list is an overview of the major elements a home inspector will be looking at. It includes things such as:
- Heating system inspection
- Cooling systems and air conditioning inspection
- Home Energy inspection
- Mold and dry rot inspection
- Pool and spa inspection
- Radon inspection
- Sewer inspection
- Pest inspection (including wood-destroying insects)
- Electrical systems inspection
- Appliance inspection
- Fireplace and chimney inspection
- Plumbing and water heater inspection
The second list is more involved. It’s a comprehensive checklist from InterNACHI that goes for 31 pages listing all of the things an inspector checks.
There is also our own list of things you should ask your inspectors before, during and after the inspection happens.
Homes for Heroes Inspectors
One of the expert pieces of advice we found said, “Your VA loan officer may be able to recommend a good inspector who has worked with military and veteran home buyers before.” This is a case where Homes for Heroes can help you as you work your way through the approval process of both the VA and your private lender.
At Homes for Heroes, we talk a lot about connecting you to real estate specialists and mortgage brokers who can help you search for your next home and home loan. We also have a network of inspectors across the country that understand the needs of military families and veterans. Our Homes for Heroes inspectors offer discounts to our armed forces members and we have them organized by state.
When you work with Homes for Heroes, we issue a thank you check when you close on the house. That check – called the Hero Rewards check – is based on your work with our team, which includes:
- A Real Estate Agent
- A Mortgage broker
- A Title Company
- An Inspector
The more Homes for Heroes professionals you work with, the bigger the reward check is at the end. Currently, our Hero Reward checks average around $3,000. With a Homes for Heroes inspector, you not only get savings on the front end, you also add to your reward at the end.