Buyers and sellers can have wildly different expectations for the home inspection. The seller probably already feels like he is giving his perfect home away. The buyer is mentally spinning on "I'm spending half a million dollars, and this house better be perfect". Reality is usually somewhere in between. I have prepped sellers for home inspection, and now I see that Ralph has the great idea of prepping buyers as well. Good post for everyone in the business.
Do you prep your buyers for the physical inspection?
The physical inspection is where we as licensed agents sometimes hit a bump in the road. It is the main discovery process for the buyer, and probably the most apprehensive time for them, especially for those buyers who are a little more distrusting in the first place.
What I've found helps quite a bit is to prep the buyer for the physical inspection by not only discussing the process of the inspection itself, but some examples of how things have rolled out for other buyers in the past, and how they were sucessfully handled.
Let your buyers know that a home is an ORGANIC structure. It is made of wood, plaster, metal, etc. and is subject to mother nature via elements of sun, wind, rain, and those beings that live around us that are also part of our environment.
And although there are better ways than others to maintain the structure, they are nonetheless subject to these natural elements over time.
Explain to them that it is the inspectors JOB to find things that are of concern to them. If the inspector states the property is 1000% spotless, then he may as well just have phoned it in and is also putting himself in a jeopardizing position.
Some buyers actually expect a 100% golden report stating every inch of the home is tip-top and in dream-like condition, keyword being "dream". That's not an inspection - that's called new construction. And even then, new construction is subject to the elements and the opinion of the inspector of the worthiness of how it was designed.
Let the buyer know some possible outcomes, and how you will deal with that should those outcomes arise. Explain to them that if anything of serious concern comes up, that you need to give the seller the opportunity to discuss it and come up with a solution, whether it be in the form of issuing a credit for the estimated repair or requiring them to do the work.
Discuss the 3 tags that an inspector will issue to items: 1. Serviceable 2. Needs Attention 3. Not Acceptable
Inform the buyer that the category you really want to deal with is the 3rd - Not Acceptable
Example: The inspector says the water heater is working fine, but it is nearing it's life expectancy. THIS IS NOT A REPAIR. First, it is simply speculation. Something to keep your eye on? Yes. Something to list on the request for repairs? NO! The water heater has been deemed as in working order and the seller is not responsible for something you "think" may need to be replaced.
Anything else really isn't considered a repair.
Also make it clear to the buyer the difference between REPAIR and IMPROVEMENT - this is a big deal and worth the time spent discussing.
Also, if it is a condo or townhome that is at hand, make sure you explain to them that the reponsibility of the building structure itself lies with the homeowners association, and explain typically what is covered with the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R's) of the building. There may be things that come up during the inspection that are the responsibility of the HOA that they need not be concerned about.
Prepping your buyers prior to the physical inspection will help everyone involved and just may help to get them that property that they so much fell in love with, without being scared off for reasons of no real concern.