Do I need a home inspection?
You're buying a house and your Realtor asks if you'll be getting a home inspection. They cost between $250 and $400 and take up about three hours of your day. Is this a necessary expense, or can you skip it?
You don't need a home inspection if:
You know you want the house regardless of issues
A home inspection can serve as a contingency in your purchase offer. This means that if you make an offer on a house and find out during the home inspection that there are defects that make you wish to back out, you are able to do so. If you opt out of getting the home inspection altogether, you won't have a chance to back out of your offer if you change your mind. So, if you know you want the house no matter what could possibly be wrong with it, you might as well skip the inspection.
The house is sold as-is and you're all right with that
If you're purchasing a foreclosure, it will be sold as-is. This means that no matter what is wrong with the house, the bank will not fix it. So, if you're OK with not finding out what could be wrong with the house before buying it, go ahead and purchase it without an inspection, because they won't make repairs anyway.
You're confident the house is fine
My husband and I bought our first home in Arizona. It was only 10 years old and was 1,100 square feet. There was no basement or attic, and the roof was concrete tile. And because it was in the desert, there was little possibility of water or mold damage. In short, there were few things that could be wrong with the house. We decided to buy it without getting an inspection. We lived there for four years and never had one issue. If you can proceed confidently, feel free!
You feel you can do your own inspection
While an inspector will be able to identify certain things you won't, you could conduct your own inspection. This would only serve to give you peace of mind, however, as you don't qualify as a licensed professional. The purpose of a home inspection is to ensure the quality, safety and condition of things that are visible to the naked eye. So be aware that the inspector will not be opening up walls or ceilings to search for underlying concerns.
When you need a home inspection
Recently, my husband and I made an offer on a second home that had significant visible damage. The deck was rotted, the drywall was torn out of the shower, the baseboards were missing and so on. But we wanted a fixer-upper, so we were OK with it. Since the house did have so many visible problems, we figured we should hire a professional to investigate any greater repair needs so that we would really know what we were getting into. Lo and behold, the entire house was cloaked in mold! The siding was faulty and rain had seeped behind it, rotted and grew mold. We walked away. Thank God!
Additionally, if you want to be able to negotiate and have the seller make any necessary updates, you have to get an inspection.
When in doubt, hire a professional.