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When you’re planning on buying a home, a house inspection is part of the standard process. It’s the best way to protect yourself from hidden defects in the property that could be a problem later. Most of the time, home inspections turn up nothing more serious than a few insects or a few missing shingles on the roof.

But what happens when the home inspection shows significantly more? Here’s what you need to know:

  1. There’s no such thing as a “failed” home inspection. Saying that a house failed its home inspection simply means that the home inspector found problems that weren’t disclosed in the listing, like water damage, electrical problems, plumbing issues and structural defects.
  2. You can use the negative home inspection to make an informed decision about your purchase. You may decide that the flaws aren’t that serious and make the purchase. You may cancel the deal entirely. You can also use the inspection as a starting point to renegotiate your offer.
  3. You can also ask the current owner to make the repairs (instead of taking a lower bid for the price). Many times, owners are willing to fix a multitude of problems to keep a sale going.
  4. You can use the home inspection to help you prioritize the improvements you want to make once you do buy. If some of the problems are things you are willing to fix yourself, the inspection need not derail the deal.

It’s always wiser to have experienced legal assistance when you’re purchasing a home — particularly when there’s a problem with the inspection. Know your rights and know how to enforce them before you close on a residential property.