I've always been reminded to "keep things in perspective", and in looking at REO properties, it is important to do the same thing by all parties involved.
As an inspector, my job is to accurately transfer knowledge to the client about the condition of the property. I'm not there to "find things wrong", and not there to "make sure the deal isn't jeopardized", rather to paint an accurate picture of conditions noted at the time of the inspection.
I'm often asked what makes a perfect inspection in my eyes, and my answer is "EVERYTHING is disclosed, AND the deal goes through".
Look, I KNOW I am there to serve the client, but I also know I am there to serve the Realtor. Why? Because, In choosing to work with only professional Realtors, I know that many times they know better than the client themselves what is best for them.
You heard me right! Sometimes the Realtors knows what is better for the client, than the client does themselves. Its really no different than a parent knowing what is best for their child. Its not about actually being better, or being smarter, or anything else that translates into a comparison of intelligence.
Its simply that Realtors are much more experienced when it comes to homes, and clients many times let their emotions get in the way of doing what is best for themsleves.
A Realtor will tell you the three rules of real estate are location, location, location. Any competent inspector will tell you the three rules of home inspections are quality, quality, quality.
Quality is the one thing that best stands the test of time. In supporting professional Realtors who help their clients find a potential home in a good "location", I can be assured that having made that decision, it is now my job to help the client determine whether they have bought a "quality" home.
It is this combination of "location" and "quality" that yields a happy client, and we all know what that means in terms of building business relationships ... REFERRALS!
So, what does this all have to do with REO properties?
REO properties require thinking outside the box in deciding whether a house is a "quality" home. Why? Because there are simply more variables involved, namely the fact that the seller is no longer a human being, but rather a faceless asset manager who very likely has no clue of the actual goings on in the community. They set prices based on quantitative data, and that many times leads to skewed valuation.
Sometimes they overprice homes ... and sometimes they underpriced quality homes in great locations :)
My job is to help put the quality factor in perspective for the client. If they are buying in a great location, the house needs $2,500 in work, but is priced $25,000 under market, its my job to make sure they keep things in perspective.
A pure inspection would stop at the point of explaining what is wrong, and that for about $2,500 the house should be safe to live in. That in a vacuum might be enough to have a client walk away from the property, because they are afraid of tackling $2,500 in repairs.
But, if explaining to them that the $2,500 really equates to spending about $50/week for a year, and putting in some hard work towards their new home, then many times the client is able to look at the bigger picture, and imagaine the point in time a year later where they are settled into their new home, content in the fact they didn't let immediate facts upset a long-term decision.
Realtors need to make sure their inspectors are doing their part to accurately paint a picture of the condition of the home for their cleints. I work very hard with my Realtors clients to ensure that I do, because the cleint deserves that. I also choose to pick the Realtors I want to work with, because I don't want my name invloved with any less than honest commitment to the client.
Make sure when doing home inspections on REO properties, the cleint remains focused on the big picture. I'm three years into the "big picture" on my own personal home, and it STILL needs a lot of work. But I know one day I will be done, and I will have made the right decision!
Find me on the web at http://www.inspect.net/
Regards, Jeff Bond
"Serving Those Who Serve"