Lets face it, there is no such thing as a perfect home. After all, all houses are built in an imperfect world under imperfect conditions with imperfect materials and by imperfect people. When you really think about it, they don't stand a chance of being perfect. Having said that, many home inspectors are under the impression that their responsibility is to focus only on and magnify the flaws to such a degree that their client runs away fearing for their very lives. Sad but true. How many inspectors do you know that take pride in killing deals. How many others kill deals because they lack the presentation and communication skills necessary to accurately portray the house.
I learned very early in my career just how much influence that I can have over prospective buyers. In Massachusetts, we have 4 seasons, 1 warm, 2 cold, and 1 very cold. it is the very cold season that can cause problems with chimneys. It seems that bricks and mortar are somewhat porous and will likely take on some moisture throughout the fall and winter. As this moisture freezes, it expands creating very small cracks in the mortar of many chimneys in the area. Over time, these cracks will expand and become visible to the highly trained eye of the home inspector. This is a very normal phenomenon here and requires regular maintenance to keep them from getting too large. Welcome to life in the Northeast. No big deal, right?
One of my first clients, a young couple just buying their first home, hired my company to do the inspection. They were eager to accompany me on the inspection and learn as much as they could about their new home. When I noticed the cracks in the chimney, I proudly proclaimed to them that the chimney was cracked. While that was true from a technical standpoint, it was not a serious issue yet. I felt I should inform them of the condition and show them how to take care of it. The response from them was different than I anticipated. In unison, as if rehearsed, they both gasped and took a step back. Apparently my tone of voice had made this minor point seem much more serious than it really was. What I was saying was, "keep an eye on your chimney, it may require tuck point repairs from time to time." What they heard was, "get out of the way, the chimney is falling, your lives are in danger!!!"
It was at that point that I realized that doing the home inspection is really a minor facet of our business. The major part is how we present our findings to the buyers. That presentation requires a skill set that, sadly, many inspectors do not have. While it is true that some issues are serious and need to be treated as such, most issues that we find should not be deal breakers. I have been referred to in the past as a professional mother-in-law, I get paid to nitpick. Remember, it is our job to find and report defects, but the presentation needs to be accurate without blowing things out of proportion. We are successful in our role when the buyer leaves the inspection with a good understanding of the property, success should not be measured by the number of kills.
I would love to see more continuing education courses on how to communicate properly, I think that would be a tremendous benefit to the industry as a whole. Anyone else agree, or am I making a mountain out of a molehill?
Make it a great day.
American Bulldog Home Inspection
Watchdog for the American Dream