Some of you may remember that I got my start in the real estate business as a home inspector. Having spent many years on that side of the fence, I feel uniquely qualified to give my professional opinion on what does and does not define a competent inspector. There are basically three kinds.
The Bucket Head Unfortunately, this exhibit is directly correlated with what is a basic flaw in the relationship between home inspectors and real estate agents. Inspectors almost always get referred by agents, creating a dynamic where a very thorough inspector could be labeled a “deal-killer.” Bucket Heads put the desire of preserving their referral partner (a particular agent) ahead of the needs of the buyer, who is the ultimate client and the person paying for the inspection. This often results in a rose-colored inspection report, and sometimes in legal action down the line.
The Deal Killer Due to possibly being weaned too early in childhood, or failing to qualify on “American Idol,” this inspector feels an obligation to not only find every flaw in the home, but to portray it as a life-threatening situation. “Loose outlet cover—risk of electrocution, instant death, and future hair loss.” Deal Killers are known to begin the inspection summary with a sigh and a tisk or two and write like a forensic scientist. Every home has some issue, folks, even a brand new one. A good agent will prepare their client for this possibility and navigate appropriately.
The Good Inspector This one puts findings in perspective but doesn’t sugar-coat them. This inspector:
- Writes and speaks conversationally. “Loose outlet cover—tighten.”
- Takes time to explain to all parties involved, in a neutral manner.
- Takes the business seriously, keeps up on training and technology, and belongs to a professional association like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
If you’re buying a home, get an inspection. If you’re selling a home, expect one. And make sure you choose a real estate agent who understands the process better than you do and plays an even hand.