I would like to welcome those of you who have been following my ongoing series of articles written to separate the fact and fiction of homes inspections and inspectors, and welcome to those that may have just caught this information for the first time.
I would like to stress the importance of finding an inspection report format that you, the realtor, can be comfortable with. The un-avoidable fact is that not only must your client be able to understand their property inspection report, but you as well.
In this Inspector’s experience, it is rare that the client actually takes the time away from work to attend the inspection. This is very unfortunate, given the gravity of the sales purchase decision, but none the less a fact of life in the home inspection industry. The inspector loses a valuable opportunity to explain findings in plain language, and elaborate on possible repair ideas and methods. Locations of important equipment shutoffs, and maintenance tips would also be discussed on site. It is only through this one on one contact with the client that the inspector can take the edge of some of the findings that may cause the buyer discomfort. Not that the inspector will ‘sugar coat’ something, but the written word is always more scary than a one on one, common sense discussion of the matter. To make matters worse, it is rare that the client calls upon the inspector for review of the report, or with questions. In fact, when we do get questions, it is usually something that is right there in the report, and it becomes obvious that the client did not take the time to read the entire report, or read it thoroughly. They sometimes just assume all is relatively well, or that you, the agent, will take care of all this, because you have taken such good care of them all along.
So now the client has their report, and you have your copy, and it is time to make decisions. Your client will have need of an inspection report that identifies the more serious conditions, and you will as well. If your home inspector does not have some sort of summary section, or means of emphasizing one condition over another, something seriously wrong could get overlooked. Unfortunately, some inspectors use this to their advantage. Their report may just list things that are wrong, in the same context of all the other items in the report, essentially downplaying it’s importance. There is an old saying,” If you want to hide a tree, place it in a forest.” I think you see where I am heading with this. Why would an inspector do this? Well even though it puts that inspector at risk, it is done to make the realtor happier with the report, in order to gain repeat business. This is similar to appraisers who receive pressure to “make the numbers work”.
With more serious items properly identified in the report, it makes the purchase decision clearer for the client. It will also make the process of selecting items for a “request for repairs” list you more than likely will be preparing to give the home seller. If the report does not identify the more serious issues, the burden now falls onto your shoulders, where it does not belong. The home inspector gets paid to do that, and (hopefully) has the experience, and knowledge to do so. Once again a good home inspector will identify the situation, explain its consequences, and refer the item over for repair or further review by the appropriate professional.
On another note, this process of reviewing the report and making repair requests should be given more time and consideration than it sometimes gets. There may be numerous electrical issues, for example, that will necessitate the need for inspection of the entire electrical system by a qualified electrician, who can then place a repair amount on it. The home inspection may indeed be the catalyst for more inspections, based on the condition of the house. Do not get caught up in hurrying the deal along. A real estate transaction is a complicated matter, and further complicated by all the inspections, but the job must be done right, and done thoroughly.
So you see, a good home inspection report should identify such situations, and emphasize them accordingly, as the responsibility falls with the inspector. To not do so does both you and your client a disservice. Remember, past satisfied clients are going to give you referrals and more business over the years, where an unhappy client will be far more likely to do that. As a real estate professional, you should be just as concerned with the quality of the inspectors report, as with the quality of the inspector himself.
For those of you who would like to review the information on these past articles, or obtain further consultation regarding home inspections, please contact me or comment below.