The Home Inspection Blues

Industry Observer with Swanepoel T3 Group

Heard of the home inspection blues? After viewing dozens of homes over many weeks, you've selected the perfect house. The price is negotiated! The contract is signed! Plan the house-warming party! Call the movers!

But what's the REALTOR® droning on about...home inspection? You shush her while you dream of serving pancakes to smiling children on a sunny morning. You can see the Christmas tree in the front window....the gardens you'll plant in the spring.

In the blink of an eye your REALTOR® changes...from the chirpy cheerleader who loved every house to a dour-faced skeptic who is muttering about "material defects" and "health and safety".  She says you will have to actually pay money to some crabby guy to pick the house apart and destroy your dreams. You begin to develop a case of the home inspection blues.

You aren't expecting a perfect house, you assure your REALTOR®. But suddenly, everyone you've ever met has a bad house story. You hear about houses sliding off foundations and furnaces that blew up in the dead of winter. You begin to pray that the crabby guy can see through walls. Now the home inspection blues have settled in for a long visit.

But shake off that gloomy feeling. The home inspection is a time to learn about the house and make sure that it's safe. It's a time to make sure that there aren't problems that exceed the buyer's resources to address in the future.  In Illinois, where I work as a St Charles IL real estate agent, the home inspection is supposed to identify defects in the major mechanical and structural elements of the home such as:

- Any malfunction in the heating and cooling systems. (But old doesn't mean malfunctioning)
- Clear evidence of structural problems such as a cracked foundation or rotted wood in a staircase
- Plumbing issues such as toilets that don't flush or faucets that are not working.
- Electrical system problems such as an overloaded service box

The home inspector is also responsible for noting possible environmental hazards that require further evaluation, including radon. asbestos, soil contamination, mold or gas leaks.

There are many gray areas of what a seller can be asked to address after a  home inspection. If the questionable component of the house was to code when it was built, the seller may not be required to make the change. For example, we now know that bathroom fans should be vented to the outside of the home, not into the attic. A home inspector might recommend this be changed as an improvement to the house.

I always recommend that a buyer have a professional home inspection and would insist on a signed waiver if it was declined. The home inspection is intended to make sure that a buyer knows about problems, issues and defects in a home so that they are not taking on more than they expected.

So hire a great home inspector and learn as much as possible from him (or her) about the house. Then work with your REALTOR® and attorney to make a realistic list of requests from the seller.

Note: I am a licensed REALTOR® in Illinois, so these observations are made based on my experience and our state laws. Please consult with local professionals for the requirements for home inspections in your area.


Re-Blogged 5 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Donald Bradbury 07/05/2011 09:11 AM
  2. Eric Michael 07/05/2011 11:21 AM
  3. Cara Marcelle Mancuso 07/06/2011 04:28 AM
  4. Brian and Heather Halliday 07/06/2011 07:31 PM
  5. Winston Heverly 08/17/2012 01:32 PM
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Ron Dehler
All home inspections are NOT the same. Experience is not expensive it's priceless. Don't alway believe an inspector when they tell you how long the have been conducting inspections. Make them prove it and make them provide proof of education, training and licensing.
Jul 07, 2011 04:28 AM #102
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

Yes, yes, yes!  Especially for first time buyers, I tell them to set aside money for inspections (in California, a pest inspection is a must).  And if it's an older home - roof. Pool?  Should check that out too.  The hundreds spent upfront could alert you to thousands needed in the future.  An important part of the equation in understanding the true cost of ownership.

Jul 07, 2011 07:59 AM #103
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

A home inspector is like a doctor.  They are always going to find something wrong.  If need be they will send you to a specialist or make some serious reccomendations.

Jul 07, 2011 08:40 AM #104
James Fouts
Keller Williams Realty Cary - Cary, NC

Great Post Leslie!  I highly recommend a good home inspector, not just one that passes anything to get agent referrals.  I know of home inspectors getting cussed out by agents in our area for finding problems that need to be addressed and documenting them like they should.  Some home inspectors are being bullied by agents today to get homes passed along so that they can get their commission.  That's not what should be happening.  I am glad to see so many positive responses on here.  I would much rather my clients know the problems that exist then find out much later.

Jul 07, 2011 11:30 AM #105
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

James: thanks, I'm glad that people stayed positive.

Gene: an informed buyer can make good decisions.

Karen: someone up above commented that he could never understand why someone would pay $100,000s for a house but not a few hundred to have an inspection.

Ron: good thinking

Tom: we have less success with having new homes inspected

Jul 07, 2011 12:22 PM #106
What Not To Renovate - Milan B.
Palm Coast, FL
We provide tips & trends on home renos & designs

Hi Leslie,

Great post!
Home Inspection is highly recommended, whether the home is brand new or has seen better days.
Its money well spent for our client's protection.
Best of all, the cost is only a small fraction when compared to the price of the home being purchased.....

Jul 07, 2011 05:12 PM #107
Gerard Gilbers
Higher Authority Markeing - Asheboro, NC
Your Marketing Master

Great points. While we may "like" everything we see, we don't see through walls and don't have the ability to test systems and verify other issues like a professional home inspector does. I'd much rather have a buyer invest the money for an inspection and walk away than pay for costly repairs or worse and then try to recover it from me!

Jul 07, 2011 05:37 PM #108
Jeff Hollister
Native Californian with 20 years serving OC Buyers & Sellers - San Clemente, CA
Real Estate Broker, Serving Orange County, CA

I always speak positively to my buyers in regards to possible outcomes from home inspections. I've had many clients who benefited from my guidance in negotiating repairs/credits using their inspection reports. Most have received at least double the amount of their inspection fees. Last year one received a $20K price reduction for a new roof... and this was on a short sale purchase too. 8~)

Jul 08, 2011 07:04 AM #109
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi Leslie,

My Motto is this, "It's up to us as Home inspectors to find the best results for the client. Even if they don't like the results."

We work for them no one else. the "grey area is very small.

Have a great day and it's a very nice post.

Clint McKie

Jul 09, 2011 10:30 PM #110
Bonnie and Melinda
Re/Max Premier, Realtors - West Hartford, CT
Your West Hartford Real Estate Specialists

Leslie, you are so right. But what we find is that after the contract is signed, Sellers feel they are giving the house away, and Buyers are afraid that they paid too much and house will fall apart as soon as they take ownership! So we try to keep cool heads and keep everyone on an even keel. Not always easy, but part of the process.

Jul 10, 2011 05:58 AM #111
Alan Grizzle
Chestatee Real Estate - Dahlonega, GA
Full Time Realtor, Lifelong Resident of Dahlonega

I am a full time Realtor and am in the process of buying a rental home. I just had it inspected by my most trusted inspector, $350 well spent. I am still buying the house and have a good list of what I need to take care of before the first tenant ever moves in.

Jul 11, 2011 02:28 PM #112
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

Alan: that sounds really sensible.

Bonnie and Melinda: you're so right, sellers feel abused and buyers are skittish...deep breath, stay calm.

Clint: just about the most power ful line we have in our position is "here is the informaiton for you to make yoru decision".

Jeff: way to look at it.

Gerard: better to have a deal not close than to sit and wonder for years if the buyer made a good decision.

Wandanna: a tiny percent, to be sure!

Jul 11, 2011 03:11 PM #113
Patrick Henry
PMZ - Stockton, CA

It is not always about the property, but also about the buyer's peace of mind. This is true especially if they are first time buyers.

Jul 14, 2011 09:35 AM #114
Gary Monfeli

Great post Leslie. I'm one of the less than crabby inspectors. Some of the Realtors that work with will not take a listing without having us do a pre-listing inspection :)

Jul 17, 2011 12:30 AM #115
Patrick Henry
PMZ - Stockton, CA

I know a lot of agents do not go around with the buyer and the inspector, but I would recommend doing it. You will be surprised what you learn and those things will be helpful in the future when looking at properties with future clients.

Jul 19, 2011 07:05 AM #116
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Leslie - Great post, don't know how I missed this one.  As an MLO here in Los Angeles & Ventura counties, I am a huge advocate of home inspections and always recommend that my borrowers get one.  Lately though, home inspections have been kind of the bane of my existence.  I've had too many transactions cancelled this year because of sub-par inspections.

WOW!!!  Could I ever relate to Jim #41.  For many of my borrowers seeing an inspection report with dozens and dozens of items (some even comments on some of the homeowners recent repairs) and then wondering why none of this stuff is on the absolutely blank sellers TDS, it leaves a very bad impression with a prospective buyer and then they start wondering what else the seller is hiding.  It goes downhill real fast from there.

Jul 30, 2011 03:16 PM #117
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

Donne: c'mon, there's so much good stuff we all miss good posts everyday!

Patrick: Not sure what practise is in all areas, but here the buyer's agent attends the inspection. And thanks for commenting, I took a little break from blogging so I'm sorry I didn't comment back!

Gary: most of the inspectors I know are very nice people ;-)


Jul 31, 2011 03:16 PM #118
Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL

The signed waiver issue is what I would address if they decline their right. Inspections are not all created equal, so it's is important to hire the one you know best. Ask to review their worksheet along with typical inspection details. I know on my house or guess house that is included took three hours w/a helper.

Jan 09, 2012 02:02 PM #119
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

You did a very good job explaining the home inspection. I like your writing style.

Sep 25, 2012 12:29 AM #120
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

Tigard Thank you very much

Winston yes, I have a company that I recommend, they are reliable and I know their people. And i understand their computer generated reports so it makes it easier to help the client interpret the information.

Sep 25, 2012 01:32 AM #121
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