image of an apartment inspectorQuestion: Our offer has been accepted. Prior to going to contract, is it wise to invest in having the apartment viewed by an inspector or a professional who can judge the real condition of a 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment?

— Wondering on the West Side

Dear Wondering:

Mazel tov!

Now about that inspection. It wouldn’t hurt, but you don’t really need it.

Professional home inspections are essential when you’re buying a house. You must have someone knowledgeable who can inspect for termites or other pests and can assess the condition of the roof, the foundation and the various systems — plumbing, heating, air condition, electrical etc. Depending on where the house is located, you may need to know the state of a well or a septic system. There’s a whole lot that goes into a house that a new owner needs to know about because when you buy it, you buy all of it — the good, the bad and the soon-to-need-replacing.

The situation with buying a condo — or, as in your case, a co-op apartment — is much different. What you see is what you get. You don’t have all of those hidden surprises that new house buyers face because you don’t own the plumbing or the electrical wires and all the other stuff that inspectors are most interested in. (Yes, I know you own them through the co-op association. That’s irrelevant here.) If there’s a problem in the future, the building will be responsible for the repair.

Yes, there can be cosmetic or minor issues with the new apartment, but you don’t need to hire an inspector to tell you about them. You and your real estate agent can spot 99 percent of them. A broken toilet? That’ll cost you $200 or so for a plumber or about $20 if you fix it yourself. A flickering light in the hallway? You might need a new fixture or a new switch. Stains on the bedroom carpet? You were going to redecorate anyway. And if you are planning on renovations, your architect or contractor can tell you just about everything you need to know about the place.

In any case, a co-op buyer is not likely to persuade the seller to budge a bit on the price for these kinds of minor issues. A home buyer, on the other hand, can get a lot of money mileage out of a cracked foundation or a suspect old boiler.

All that said, you are spending a great deal of money for your new apartment. It’s probably the most expensive thing you have ever bought or may ever buy. Who wouldn’t feel anxious?

If it helps you sleep better or feel more at ease, go ahead. Hire an inspector.

David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.

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