Why Listing Agents Should Care About the Buyer's Home Inspector's Credentials

Real Estate Agent with Sea Coast Exclusive Properties

As the typical scenario goes, seller wants to sell and buyer wants to buy and submits an offer that gets accepted.  Now the clock starts ticking and buyer's agent recommends a few home inspectors, being careful not to steer the buyer to any one specific inspector.   This all sounds like business as usual, however, in this story the buyer pick a home inspector that is not a licensed contractor (I know they don't have to be) and has one other inspector working for them, although, doesn't carry workers' comp insurance but does have a home inspector's certification.

Inspector then does the home inspection and calls out a few code violations that were not really code violations and misses a big issue.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of competent home inspectors out there and the one's I use have a folder of current credentials and insurance policies.

The seller generally doesn't have any say on who the buyer uses for their home inspector and for the most part might not even care. 

This is the scene that played out with one listing agent and the seller being subpoenaed because the buyer's home inspector missed a structural problem that the seller didn't know about.  The home inspector (in this case he had been a home inspector for only 6 months) said in the deposition " I just fill out the forms, I have no construction back-ground," the Buyer's agent said "The Buyer picked the inspector from the list I gave him" and here starts the problem.  During the investigative process it was discovered that the list of home inspectors given to the buyer contain 5 inspectors with only one having solid construction experience and proper insurance coverage, while the other 4 did not.  2 of the 4 had been in the business less than 1 year. In this situation the buyer had only a 20% change of of picking the highly qualified inspector.

How is that the listing agent problem? Well, the lisiting agent and seller are sitting in an attorney's office giving their depositions and the 81 year old seller is naturally defending the fact that she didn't know the chimney had major cracks, which by the way were only viewable from the far side of the attic. 

The listing agent in this case did have a great defense, which tipped the scales back on the buyer and buyer's agent.  In this case the listing agent had sent the buyer's agent a list of qualified home inspectors with a short note saying "I just wanted to provide you with the names and numbers of a few fully qualified inspectors that I use, in case you need them." This action alone saved the agent from further time spent on this matter.  Why on earth would this listing agent have thought to make this a practice?  Because his wife is a real estate attorney and surprisingly enough, this comes up more that we might think.    

I know we can all do over-kill on covering the bases, however, I thought i'd pass this story along just in case it saves one listing agent from having a really bad week.


Comments (3)

Kathy Denworth
Century 21 Schwartz Realty - Islamorada, FL
Realtor in the Florida Keys, Islamorada, Key Largo

I always give out three names of some of the inspectors that I know will do a good job. Especially if I know there are any possible issues such as mold. Then I make sure I have the people who can solve whatever problems the inspector finds.

Feb 20, 2011 08:01 AM
Dan Edward Phillips
Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA - Eureka, CA
Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA

Good afternoon Jeff, thanks for sharing the excellent input!

Feb 20, 2011 08:02 AM
Sylvie Brault
Century 21 Realisation - Dunham, QC


Here in Quebec, any Joe Lunchpail can create business cards referring to themselves as Home Inspectors.  Being an agent who always suggests a home inspection, I explain this to my clients.  Referrals I give them ARE fully qualified and are members of the ACAIQ or ANIEB, but I do tell the clients to always get informed regardless of whether their credentials are up to date and that their Errors and Omissions insurance is in effect.  Otherwise, they're paying for nothing.  If you're going to be paying for a home inspection, you might as well make sure you're getting the protection you're paying for.

I've been fondly referred to as a Mother Hen by my clients...  I take it as a compliment.  I'm their ressource and should act as such.

Feb 20, 2011 08:07 AM