Inspectors over stepping their area of expertise, a recipe for a trip to court

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty LLC 200311024

All of us are taught when we are taking the classes for our real estate license is that we should never overstep our expertise. I’ve dealtwith a lot of inspectors since I got in to real estate, but I’ve never had one tell a client what the fix would be and how much it would cost.

How would you know what the cost would be? Are you an expertin that field and are you planning to do it yourself? Seems this inspector hada part time repair business and to me, that seems like a conflict of interest.

So, here is a list of repairs that this inspector has come up and a note saying, here is what I can charge you to fix them. The seller sees something a little weird… The seller says “I just had that done 3 weeks ago, how could this not meet code? This inspector wants to charge me $550 to fix something that was just fixed?

Inspectors over stepping their area of expertise

My client then says “Let’s get a second opinion” So, we call an electrician, we don’t tell them about the inspection and the report comes back that this is completely up to code and that there was nothing wrong. Now,we have an issue, how much of the rest of this report is made up, justto make money?

We are trying to decide what todo with this inspection andthe repair addendum. What would you do in this situation if you were me and the seller? My seller is thinking of turning down the buyers request based on oursecond opinion and telling the buyers to get a new inspector at their cost.

Here is my opinion when it comes to inspectors. Inspectors, just do the inspection, don’t give your opinion and especially don’toffer to do the repairs, because you could be held liable if you are wrong and then be accused of adding stuff to the inspection, just to make more money.

Comments (16)

Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY

That is whacked?! How on earth could this have happened?? I never tell people what repairs will cost as I am not a repairman. That is not in the scope of my work.

Jan 19, 2012 04:35 AM
Peggy Hughes/pha logistix, inc.
pha logistix inc - San Francisco, CA

Wow... this is a disaster just waiting to happen.  I would show the buyer the electician's report and suggest that the buyer consider getting another inspection on their own dime.

Jan 19, 2012 04:38 AM
Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

Hi Todd.  I am with the seller.  I would start from square one even if they had to split the cost of the new inspection.  It would be worth every red cent.  In the meantime, I would stay clear of this all-in-one inspector.

Jan 19, 2012 04:41 AM
go to & get 20 Listing Appointments per month
Real Estate Faster - Los Angeles, CA

It does sound like there was a conflict of interest. Also, agree with you that the inspector should have just done the inspection and not given his opinion or offered to do repairs.

Jan 19, 2012 04:43 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

We used to have this happen all the time with pest inspections because most of the pest inspectors owned pest removal and spray companies. I've not seen this for several years now... 

Jan 19, 2012 04:56 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA
Wow- sounds like that inspector overstepped his bounds and stuck his neck way, way out. Hopefully the buyer will also realize that is not a trustworthy report. Does Oregon have licensing requirements for inspectors??
Jan 19, 2012 06:07 AM
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Todd -- I would have a friendly talk with the inspector, and let him know that his inspection business is likely to drop precipitously, if he doesn't stop the repair sideline coming in with the inspection.

Jan 19, 2012 07:43 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate Brokered by Real - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Todd, Get another inspector, one who is there to inspect, not create an erroneous repair list with bid in hand!

Jan 19, 2012 10:44 AM
Linda Holloway
Keller Williams Realty Tampa Central - Tampa, FL
REALTOR®, Your Next Home in Tampa Bay Starts Here!

Hi Todd, I arrived at your blog 1) by way of a comment you left on Janis' blog and 2) in AR University today, I heard your "style" was different than Debe's so I wanted to check it out.

To respond to this great post, I have actually taken the class in Florida to become a home inspector (for the info, not to be an inspector).  In Florida, it is DEFINITELY a conflict of interest to inspect and give an estimate of repairs even if the inspector is licensed to do the repairs.  The role of the home inspector is to "inspect the home" and then refer anything that doesn't look correct to a licensed professional.  In the case you describe above, the inspector should state on the report that such in such doesn't look right and recommend that a professional licensed electrician look at it.  In the last year or two, Florida has also changed the law where inspectors now have to be licensed.  Is the inspector in your scenario certified through NACHI or ASHI?  That is another good thing to look for when choosing an inspector.  I would definitely recommend having a second inspection done by a qualified home inspector.

Jan 19, 2012 11:11 AM
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Todd - One thing I really like about the inspector I use most is that although he is a general contractor and can give clients a rough idea of the cost of a fix, he absolutely WILL NOT do the work on a home he has inspected.  He considers that a conflict of interest, and I agree.

Jan 19, 2012 03:55 PM
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change
Inspector? Should mean inspect, not create more work for youself. One of my gripes about pest inspection companies.
Jan 19, 2012 04:02 PM
Tatyana Makarov
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor

Did this inspector have references? That is definitely is not good situation. I would show my buyer electrician's report and asked for money back from inspector.



Jan 19, 2012 10:58 PM
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Todd, this is definitely and slippery slope and everyone 'beware.'  I, too, would question the whole report.

Jan 20, 2012 05:31 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate Agent Retired

Well, I can see possibly offering an 'opinion' about what needs to be done but to do a 'mini-repair estimate' on every little thing found on the report sounds fishy. Seems like that would be a conflict of interest as an inspector can say ANYTHING is wrong or not right just to do those repairs as you've said.

I think you should tell the buyer exactly what has been found out & say no repairs. Get a new home inspector & find out yourself. I bet a new inspection would be cheaper than what the estimated 'fix' would be from the origiinal guy.

Jan 20, 2012 10:47 AM
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

Todd, i definitely see a conflict of interest and share this with the buyers agent that this is a tainted report!

Jan 20, 2012 11:50 AM
Todd Clark
eXp Realty LLC - Tigard, OR
Principle Broker Oregon

The buyer has talked to a new inspector and the first inspector has agreed to pay the 2nd inspectors fee.


Jan 27, 2012 06:41 AM