Jackie Shea just bought a house in Bowdoinham, and she waived the inspection so her bid would be more competitive. It worked out for her because the house is practically brand new, but waiving the once-standard part of the home-buying process has become commonplace in today’s competitive market. It’s just one more decision buyers need to weigh. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

For Jackie Shea, the decision to waive the inspection on her Bowdoinham log cabin was a “no-brainer.”

She stumbled across the home on the same day it was listed and told her Realtor that unless there was something immediately and seriously wrong with the house, she planned to put in an offer. 

Her plans to build a house had fallen through, and with a teenage son, an ailing mother and a lease ending in June, she needed her offer to be competitive.

Shea’s choice is one that has become increasingly common as prospective homebuyers, frustrated by the state’s red hot real estate market, do whatever they can to get the winning bid.

It’s often a successful tactic, but home inspectors and Realtors say the risks of skipping the inspection can sometimes outweigh the rewards.



Before the pandemic, Up-Country Building Inspectors in Freeport had more work than it could accommodate, said its president, Aaron Despres.

But as the demand for houses climbed, the demand for inspections didn’t keep pace.

It should have been a busy time for the company, even with the state’s low housing inventory, but instead, business waned. 

Prospective homeowners, particularly those in Greater Portland, started waiving inspections more often than not in order to stay competitive in a market where sellers had their pick of any number of enticing offers. 

Without an inspection, the sale can go through much faster and there’s less chance of the buyer backing out or trying to negotiate a price decrease.

It can be an effective strategy, but as an inspector, Despres doesn’t recommend it.


While it can help pinpoint any issues, negotiate a price reduction or even back out of a sale, the inspection is also a way for buyers (especially first-time homebuyers) to educate themselves on their future home and figure out what sort of maintenance it will need. 

An inspection has always been part of the due diligence process, he said, and it’s “very scary to think that people aren’t able to do that in this market if they want to be competitive.” 

Jeff Campbell, owner of Campbell Property Inspections in Pittston, noticed the trend in southern Maine a few years ago. It slowly crept northward, he said, and now home buyers across the state are waiving inspections.

Campbell, president of the Maine Coalition of Home Inspection Professionals, said in a social media message that he’s seen an increase in post-closing inspections and walk-and-talk consultations.

These consultations are not full home inspections, but a walkthrough with a home inspector, often paid a set fee, who explains what can be seen at a cursory level, Campbell said. A waiver is typically signed to forfeit any claim against the inspector.

“This is a bad trend, to say the least,” he said.



It’s not just a Maine problem.

Jameson Malgeri, a director with the New England chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors, told Boston25 News that as more buyers are removing their home inspection contingency, it’s forcing inspectors to leave the business. He worries that once the market cools down and people realize the importance of home inspections, there won’t be anyone left to do them.

According to a recent survey by the national home inspectors’ group, 36 percent of home inspectors reported a “substantial loss” in revenue. Twelve percent reported losses of more than 50 percent and said they “may have to leave the business,” Boston25 News reported.

Holly Mitchell, a Portland Realtor with Keller Williams, will recommend waiving the inspection as a tactic, but she does it with a full warning.

“I’ll walk them through it,” she said. She’ll note that they’ve never seen inside the attic and it could be full of mold. The pipes could be old, and the sellers aren’t going to be sending cameras down their pipes, they don’t know.

“When you’re waiving inspections, the surprises are on you,” she said. 

Shea says she was lucky.

The house was everything she was looking for – it was a one-floor, ranch-style home, which made it a safe and accessible option for her mother, and it had a full walkout basement for her son. The house was even a log cabin, and her mom had always wanted to retire to a “log cabin in Maine.” 

Built just over a year ago, it was practically brand new. 

 She reasoned that most of what would be covered on an inspection would have been done in the last 12 months or so in order to get the certificate of occupancy. 

“Which is worse, being homeless as of June 30 with a teen and a hospice mom or waiving the inspection?” she said,

Shea put in an offer just over the asking price, with an escalation clause. Her bid was initially tied with someone else, but Shea said she bumped her offer up by $5,000 and that, coupled with her long family military history, tipped the scale in her favor. The previous owners were also in the military. 

They moved in at the beginning of the month. 

So far, the only problem she’s come across is that there’s a little air in the pipes, but that’s an easy fix. 


She’ll have someone do the annual maintenance for the heat pumps, but she has no plans to do a post-closing inspection. 

Everyone’s individual circumstances will vary, Shea said. She doesn’t know what she would have done if the house were older and she needed to put in a competitive bid, but there are so many other factors at play that it’s difficult to speculate.

“I found something that was ideal,” she said. “The universe smiled upon me.”


At Up-Country, business has slowed down overall, but Despres said the business is doing more post-closing inspections than ever. 

It’s better than completely forgoing an inspection, but he’s uncovered major issues such as a septic system at the end of its life – after the keys had changed hands and it was too late. 


“I get people wanting to be competitive, but for most people, this is the biggest investment of your life,” Despres said. 

Realtors and real estate professionals say that while it’s not a buyer’s market yet, the state’s red hot real estate market is starting to cool.

Despres is seeing this reflected in his line of work too – business has picked up a bit in recent weeks. He’s optimistic that they might be on the path back to normalcy. 

Two months ago, Laura Sosnowski, a broker and co-owner of Maine Home Connection, wasn’t seeing inspections at all. Sosnowski was Shea’s Realtor.

But just as prices are starting to inch downward and houses are staying on the market longer, she expects inspections to make a comeback soon.

“I feel like that little window is just about closed,” Sosnowski said.

Mitchell, the Keller Williams Realtor, said the increased interest rates are likely going to help move inspections back into the conversation.

“The interest rates are either going to take some buyers entirely out of play or reduce their price point,” Mitchell said. “It’s a hit to buyers. They’re becoming less willing to assume the risk.”

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