Behind a rise in home inspections

Home inspections might seem like an annoyance. They aren't required by law, cost a few hundred dollars, and require letting someone skulk through your potential new house for up to three hours, examining everything from pipes to pumps.

Still, a significant number of buyers and homeowners now opt for the service.

More than 77 percent of all home-sales transactions in 2000 - about 4.9 million overall - included a full inspection, according to a new study by The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Though the study was a first, that number likely represents an increase in buyers electing to have inspections, says Adorna Carroll, an NAR spokeswoman. Ms. Carroll attributes the trend to a rise of "buyer representatives" nationwide, and says realtors who position themselves as such typically recommend complete home inspections.

The study also found:

* Regionally, the South led the nation, with 2 million home inspections in 2000, followed by the West, Midwest, and Northeast.

* Of 910,000 newly constructed homes in the United States last year, 375,100 were inspected.

* Of 5,114,000 existing single-family homes sold last year, 2,962,500 were inspected.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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