By Brian Madigan LL.B.
Most Home Inspectors are quite legitimate. They are professionals who take their business seriously and conduct their business affairs in accordance with sound ethical practices.
Then, there are the rogue inspectors! Who are they? These people are "hired guns", they are "rogues" in the sense that there reports are "for sale". They act for purchasers and it is their role to find something wrong with the property. Anything! It doesn't really matter all that much. But, they will total up the potential repair bills and provide ammunition to a purchaser.
Let me first deal with the gold standard. Here you will find Carson Dunlop and others like them. They are truly professionals and provide independent opinions to vendors and purchasers alike. Their reports are fair and reasonable and meet all the appropriate standards of care.
Vendors will secure a report from Carson Dunlop when they believe that they might receive multiple offers for their home. A Carson Dunlop report will be provided to all the prospective purchasers, and then none need to include a home inspection condition in their bids.
But, what about the rogue inspector? These people are usually part-timers. They don't maintain offices. They operate out of their cars and have a laptop computer. They seem to do a lot of work for the same real estate agents.
So, here's how it works. The purchaser secures the property at a negotiated price subject to a home inspection condition. The inspector is always unavailable until the day before the condition is due to expire. Then, the inspector hurries through the home and prepares a report which is again at the very last moment. Whatever the price, and whatever the negotiated terms may be, a predetermined estimate of the potential reduction in the purchase price is made. And, that's just what the report will say!
Naturally, if it's too much, then it completely lacks credibility, so this report is a "measured response". How much less do you think that the vendors will accept, now that their property has been sold, and effectively off the market for a week, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000? Well, that's the precise amount you are going to find in the rogue inspector's report.
Now, armed with this information, the purchaser's agent will seek to re-negotiate the purchase price.
Rogue inspectors don't last long in the business. Their reputation precedes them. Vendors' agents will refuse to permit them to do inspections. They will have to move and order new business cards. Unfortunately, in a large metropolitan area, they don't have to move too far.
Presently, the home inspection business is not a regulated industry. There are voluntary associations, but that's not entirely satisfactory to the consumer.
So, my advice: go to a reputable, qualified, professional, ethical inspector who will provide sound advice whether you are buying or selling. By the way, if you have to go to Court, their reports will be the gold standard.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker is an author and commentator on real estate matters, if you are interested in residential or commercial properties in Mississauga, Toronto or the GTA, you may contact him through Royal LePage Innovators Realty, Brokerage 905-796-8888