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Real Estate Management

Inspect your inspector

By Richard Burgess | Midlands group, Direct Inspections

As a real estate sales agent or broker, you will almost always need a home inspection to close the deal. If your home inspector is your "Go To" guy and you have always had good luck with him, why look any further, right? Wrong. Home inspection reports can be "Deal Killers" that's a fact. Many reports are confusing or difficult to understand and just too technical for some prospective home buyers to understand. While you may be content with the status quo, you may want to do yourself a favor and evaluate your procedures as well as your inspector's process from a different prospective. First of all,  do you always recommend a certain inspector? What's wrong with a real estate agent recommending a particular home inspector to a prospective home buyer?  Well it can be considered a conflict of interest. Most real estate agents work on commission, a house selling for $350,000 has a potential commission of $21,000. Sometimes a selling agent will recommend particular home inspectors to a prospective buyer, sometimes a list of three is provided. Who are these recommended inspectors? How did they "qualify" to get on the "approved" list of the agent? Is the agent recommending someone who will help protect the potential $21,000 commission? this can raise eyebrows if you are audited. 

Unfortunately, some real estate agents view a home inspection as a threat to their sales commission. A real estate broker or sales agent who tries to get the buyer to use an inspector of the agent's choice is trying to control the home inspector selection process. This is where the agent is treading on thin ice and injecting themselves into a possible referral liability and potential trouble.

How difficult is your current home inspection report to understand? I once told a home owner during a pre-listing inspection that the insulation in the attic looked very good, he responded with a puzzled look and said "oh, we have insulation?" it was then that I realized many home owners and buyers for that matter, may only understand home systems on a basic level and therefore the report should clearly identify and explain any issues, good or bad, in a way that is easy to read, easy to understand and clearly documented with photos and explained in a way that doesn't scare away the buyer.

Something as ugly as rotten wood or a corroded leaking pipe may in reality only cost a few hundred dollars to correct and in contrast something like small cracks in brick siding may be signs of major foundation problems and may cost many thousands of dollars to correct. It's important for an inspection report to use terms like, "This is a minor issue" or "This condition is potentially more complex" when a report is not only hard to understand due to highly technical terms like this: "Efflorescence crystalline deposits were noted on the vertical masonry surface" While this is technically correct the inspector could simply say "There was a white powdery substance on the concrete wall that indicates possible moisture penetration and should be monitored"

Common sense is important, a burned out light bulb should be reported as a "Probably a burned out light bulb" not a "Repair - Replace" big red flag. If the kitchen range works, all burners get hot and the oven works but the light doesn't come on when you open the door, guess what... It's probably a burned out light bulb and should be reported that way. People understand that bulbs burn out and that shouldn't be a deal breaker. If your inspector lists the kitchen range as "Repair - Replace" or "Further evaluation is recommended" because the light doesn't come on when the oven door is opened, you need to find a new home inspector.

Finally, lets talk about gimmicks, many home inspectors offer "free" warranties and "Buy back guarantees" that is just what they are Gimmicks!  Nothing is Free!  the 90 day free warranty is a very limited "teaser" that really doesn't cover anything, (read the fine print) it's just a way for the company to get the homeowner to buy additional overpriced coverage 3 months down the road. Don't get sucked into this very slick marketing scheme, your reputation is what's important. If the new owner would like a home warranty there are many good companies out there that offer quality warranties without the fine print that your client can depend on, use them. 

Here's what to look for in a home inspector:

Good communications, someone that can talk to your client, put them at ease and explain the inspection process in a common sense way.

Reliability, Answers the phone, shows up on time, responds to emails and texts, completes the report in a timely manner (usually less than 24 hours) and is available for follow up questions or a walk through if needed.

Goes the extra mile, An inspector that is willing to attend an open house (without charging extra), at least for a couple of hours to answer any questions a prospective buyer may have.

Provides an easy to understand report, without technical terms and scary or confusing terminology.

Diligence, You want an inspector that is diligent and truthful, inspectors that use advanced technology as well as old school experience.

Proper Credentials and Insurance, you inspector should clearly advertise his inspection license number and provide proof of liability insurance if requested.

Willingness to attend team meetings, The relationship and mutual understanding of the agent and inspector working hand in hand is critical.

Good reputation and references

At Direct Inspections, this is exactly what you get. Hire us for your next home inspection and see the difference. 803-766-1250