Hey from Chicago, folks! Hope you are well!
If you're of a certain age - let's say, you bought your very first home or condo in the 1970's or 1980's - inspecting your new home, by someone in the know, was a very simple affair.
Our first condo was a small two-bedroom, at 3708 N. Sheffield, in the Wrigleyville or East Lakeview Neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. The Wrigley Field Bleacher Entrance - less than 100 feet away from our front door! (Remember the old John Candy movie Uncle Buck? My condo was in the next building to the north!)
The inspection? Well, it was the second showing, actually, before we wrote the offer to purchase.
My then father-in-law met me at the house, poked around in the bathroom and kitchen, looking at the plumbing, checked out the HVAC unit, and pronounced the place fit. Total time expended - roughly, 10 minutes!
Fast forward to 2009!
Now, the process is far more sophisticated, and much more time consuming. Today, we just attended the inspection of our Buyer Clients' 120-year-old Victorian home, in the Chicago Suburb of Oak Park IL. A beauty - but older, and generally sound, with the exception of some minor dips and sags here and there. Hell, when we're 120, we'll likely have many, many dips and sags - more likely, however, we'll be dust!
All OK - and clients will proceed with the purchase of their dream home.
But with the wrong inspector - the process could have been far different . . . yes?
Hey - what IS the purpose of a Home Inspection these days anyway? To pronounce the house fit for living, giving direction for prioritized repairs needed to be done by the new owners? Or, as we at Dean's Team Chicago are seeing far too often, a way to develop a long laundry list of every conceivable blemish or flaw?
The list? It would be provided to the Seller with inflated costs attached, demanding every little last item be repaired as a condition of closing. In the alternative, a sizable credit, sometimes tallying thousands of dollars, would be - well - considered!
No play ball? We'll kill the deal, the supposedly-empowered buyers say.
In the over 15 years I have been doing real estate here in the City of Chicago and in the Chicago Suburbs, I have run into inspectors that run the gamut from competent professionals to pompous morons! One guy - to this day - still wears an old Sherlock Holmes Hat and carries a Magnifying Glass to "get to the bottom of even the most minor home defects!" (That's his real slogan, BTW!)
Most PRIORITIZE problems, and identify issues which are purely cosmetic. Others GO ON A TIRADE about the most insignificant settling crack, or rant on how a house built 75 years ago is not up to current code, and must be completely and immediately retrofitted in order not to endanger your children.
Now, folks, there are ethical guidelines for home inspectors - according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
True ranting is discouraged. Inspectors are not supposed to comment on code violations unless they can immediately produce evidence of the code being violated. They are not supposed to comment on insurability, or health consequences, or speculate that the small smudge in the corner of the basement, is anything other than a small smudge in the corner of the basement.
But, you know what? Some do it anyway - despite the ethical prohibition, and, here in the State of Illinois, Inspector Licensing Guidelines.
On one inspection we attended recently in the North Chicago Suburb of Skokie IL, the ranting inspector demanded a door be cut through three courses of brick in the basement of a Georgian-Style Two-Story constructed in 1947. Estimated cost, through "his friend" - about $6,500!
He pointed out "code violation" after "code violation." Without even knowing the details of the code involved. His justification - "He is a builder, you know. Been building homes around these parts for over 30 years!"
He complained that work was not done without proper permits! When the listing agent produced the permits for the inspector to review, he brazenly stated these were "obviously forged," or "I know that village inspector - he's a crook, and was likely paid off!"
Checking out the old wooden garage door, in fairly good shape for a door built to the code in place over 60 years ago, he matter-of-factly mentioned, "this door is heavy, and can kill you if it falls on you!" Ask the seller to replace it - or, ask for a credit, of $2,000! (A garage door that expensive on a small house is likely made out of gold!)
As he was leaving the house after his butcher-shop job - a $300 butcher-shop job, I might add - he happened to notice the overhead power lines of the Skokie Swift CTA Commuter Train, about 100 feet away. How did he react? You'll like this one -
"You know, I heard those power lines can cause cancer, didn't you?"
Geez - this guy was not only a Home Inspector. He is a Wannabee Doctor, too!
Of course, my buyers were in awe of this fellow! What an intelligent man! He not only saved them from buying a dangerous home - but he likely saved their lives, and the lives of our kids, in the process! In their opinion, the Hat and Magnifier should have been replaced by a Superman outfit!
But don't fret, said the inspector! All these issues, no matter how severe, can be easily solved. How? If the seller throws enough money at the buyer to get him to overlook these "major flaws."
Hell, he said, "perhaps your Realtor can kick in. Do you know how many thousands of dollars he makes when you close on your home?"
You think I am kidding here? Exaggerating? Think again! All is true!
The deal died - the seller refused a $15,000 requested credit. And the inspector pocketed $300.
Off to the next hatchet job, he assumes!
Or maybe, after all, he is right. Maybe it is the job of the inspector to help the buyer renegotiate the deal! In this day and age, an honest professional pointing out prioritized blemishes doesn't last as long as a blow-hard crusader! The crusader - sexier! A lot sexier!
You think? Please share!
DEAN & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO