There is definitely a tug-of-war between real estate agents and home inspectors. We want to sell the house and the inspector has the potential to shut it down. Many agents work hard to find a home inspector who will gloss over the defects so as not to kill the deal.
I have a different take on it – PLEASE find the problems!
True Scenario #1
I was representing the buyers. The home inspector found a substantial structural problem in the basement and spent an extraordinary amount of time going over the problem and the possible solutions with the buyers.
The buyer requested that the seller remedy the problem and the seller refused, saying the problem had been there for years and nothing bad had happened. After a day of thinking about it, the buyers called me and rather timidly said they wanted to get out of the contract.
My response? Thank goodness! This was a problem that was going to have to be remedied – now or when the new owners went to sell the property. Either way, it was an expensive problem and one my clients didn’t want to deal with. The day it took them to decide? Turns out they thought I would be angry.
But the seller’s agent? OMG, you’d have thought I’d brought in a serial killer to wipe out the entire family! How DARE I use a home inspector who was so unprofessional as to kill the deal! The agent SCREAMED at me! (Interesting side-note #1: the seller ultimately did the structural repair in order to sell the house, months later. Interesting side-note #2: the buyers found another house that they love better than the first house!)
True Scenario #2
This time I represented the seller. After the inspection, the buyer’s agent called me and said that the whole house was falling down the back-yard-hill and the buyers were canceling the contract. It seemed a little extreme to me and the sellers, but we read the inspectors report. Got a structural engineer out to take a look and ended up with 10 piers sunk into the foundation to stabilize the property. The seller said he was relieved to have the problem taken care of, I made sure the warranty for the project would transfer to a new owner and we were back on the market in no time and under contract shortly after that.
The seller could have been upset about the home inspection, but he wasn’t – mostly because I pointed out that we would face this problem each time an inspection was done. Might as well take care of it now.
Only One Inspector I Really Hated
There was one inspector…I represented the seller and was present at the home inspection, along with the buyers, the inspector and the buyer’s agent.
The inspector said the automatic cut-off switch that shut the flames off when the cover of the gas furnace was removed should be disabled. In other words, the safety feature that shuts off the flames so no one gets burned should be removed. Huh? He also didn’t know what the lever was that locked the stove for the automatic cleaning cycle. I had to explain that to him.
But the worst thing was when he started to opine on value. He said that upgrading the windows would GREATLY increase the value of the house (it was a modest townhome) and that it was rare for any house in PG (yes he said PG) County to have more than one bathroom, so this house was a real bargain.
I’ve kept that man’s card for years, just so I don’t forget and accidentally work with him again.
The Bottom Line
So give me an inspector with no axe to grind and nothing to prove, other than competence – an inspector who knows what he’s doing, can explain the condition of the house in no-nonsense, non-hysterical terms, and give the buyer an accurate idea of the repairs and maintenance needed. After that, if the buyer is uncomfortable with the report and wants to cancel the contract, that’s okay with me. Because I’ll know that the buyer made the decision based on something tangible – and after all, I’m not moving in with the buyer and I’m not going to be responsible for the upkeep of the property.
If you’re looking for the names of a good inspector, let me know. I know a bunch of ’em.
© 2011 Susan Pruden. All Rights Reserved.