Have you ever told a client they shouldn't buy this home?

Home Inspector with Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area InterNACHI 10041206

As Home Inspectors, it is our job to tell the condition of the home we are inspecting, on that particular day of the inspection. It is not our job to tell them to buy or not to buy, although sometimes it is hard not to! Have you ever had a client ask you if they should buy it? "What do you think... is this a good home to buy?" Been asked that a multitude of times! Always the generic answer, "I cannot tell you whether you should buy it or not. My job is to tell you the condition of it so you and your agent have the tools necessary to make that decision."

One time, back a few years ago, I had a young couple that were really excited about buying their first home. It was a POS (I'm sure you know what that means) Everything I pointed out to them was like "I can fix that", but there was a lot! After about 10 "I can fix that"s, I couldn't hold back anymore and told them I knew he could fix all that stuff, but it was a lot, that in my opinion it would be in their best interest to keep looking until they found one in better condition and that I am sure you and your agent can find one in their price range that was in better condition. I felt so sorry for them, a new first time home buyer, with their future right in front of them looking at a hell hole, a money pit... I couldn't let them do it.

Fast forward to today. My client was an older single lady. Her and her even older mother came to the inspection. This house was also a POS! Needed so much, the roof was actively leaking, a ton of rotted wood in the facia and soffit areas, the furnace was all rusted out because the vent had no cap on it and it was raining right down the vent into the furnace, the windows were not operational, single pane 1950's style crank windows... and so on and so on!

It brought me back to the young couple back a few years ago. I bit my lip and just told them and emphasized heavily what needed to be done. At the end of the walk around I told her that I cannot tell her whether she should buy it or not, but she and her agent should look the report over very closely before she makes her decision.

Was that the right thing to do? Was I out of place, overstepping my bounds? Or would it make you feel good that you kept them from buying a nightmare?


Sometimes it's hell having a conscience!


Posted by

Fred Hernden 


 Superior Home Inspections





 Albuquerque, Rio Rancho New Mexico and surrounding areas...


“My mission is to provide superior quality home inspections to my clients to ensure peace of mind so they can confidently make the largest investment they may ever make!"


Please visit my website at: www.SuperiorHomeInsp.com for details!







Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ginger Harper 09/27/2017 05:33 AM
  2. Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate 09/18/2018 05:48 PM
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Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I can recall numerous occasions where I recommended a buyer not to buy but as their Realtor, that's my duty.

However, an inspector's duty is to inspect the property, file a report and forward it to the buyers' agent. If the report sent is as bad as you illustrated, do you really believe an agent will recommend going forward with the sale?

Finally, an experienced agent wouldn't have their clients make an offer on a property that was so visually impaired unless their client had other motives for buying the property. 

Sep 27, 2017 07:07 PM #47
Kathleen Luiten
Resort and Second-Home Specialist - Princeville, HI
Kauai Luxury Ocean Home Sales

I recently "lost" a sale but saved my clients a nightmare by cautioning them about potential costs in purchasing a property they loved. To bring it up to standard would take all their cash. Their vision of what it could be was far beyond their pocket book!

Sep 28, 2017 01:30 AM #48
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

Education and knowing a bit about the folks you are working with is the key.  I am not here to tell another person what to do, but if I notice  something that it is note worthy, good or bad,  I will point it out as a matter of fact.

Sep 28, 2017 06:09 AM #49
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

When my son and his wife were looking for their first home my husband and I went with them to a few showings. Of course at the price they could afford the places were dumps. The one they fell in love with was the worst of the bunch. My husband was on their side, but I couldn't hold back. I pointed out many reasons why I wouldn't invest in that house. They didn't listen, put in an offer which was accepted, and had an inspection.

I was so relieved (and validated) when the inspector said "RUN, do not walk, away from this house!"

Shortly after that they found a home that needed cosmetic help but had awesome bones and had been very well cared for. 

Sep 28, 2017 06:13 AM #50
Denise Copeland
Home Sales Palm Beach - Jupiter, FL
Jupiter Abacoa Sales & Beach Front Luxury Homes

I've warned several buyers, and when they've moved forward and complain about issues at least I can say it!

Sep 28, 2017 07:25 AM #51
Jonathan Hall
William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty - Danbury, CT
Realtor - Danbury,CT Area Real Estate~203-417-0523

All the time!It's not even funny, because I know a lot of my clients personally. I don't even get to the oint where we send out a building inspector because offers aren't going in.

Sep 28, 2017 09:45 AM #52
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

I have never had to do that.  Clients reach that conclusion on their own. I am the guide. I will make sure they see and understand so they make informed decisions. 

Sep 28, 2017 09:51 AM #53
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

I have, exactly once. I knew this house was going to be a problem from the get-go, so when the buyers decided to make an offer, I documented EVERYTHING that was done and said until the close. Eight pages of notes. My manager at the time looked at me and I said "I'm just trying to keep us out of a lawsuit". That house was a nightmare for the buyers and they sold (not using me) two years later.

Sep 28, 2017 10:07 AM #54
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

I always emphasize to the consumers I work with, that I will give the best information I have on a property. I do not hold back on making sure they have important negative information as well as the positive. I then tell them, I provide information and they will always make the decisions.

Sep 28, 2017 03:22 PM #55
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

WOW, I never expected a response like this! Thank you all for your comments!!

I thought I would get more negative comments, thank you all for being honest! I know you all care about your clients as I do, a happy client will be happy to give you good referrals and tell others what a great job you did! As agents, you guys would feel horrible if you talked them into the sale and the house turned out to be a pig! Do your ears burn at night? Nope! I feel the same way, the house is what it is... I have no problem being honest, should anybody? You don't have to kill the deal, the house usually does it allll by itself! You should be happy to move on to help your clients find the right home for them and their family, Again, a happy client is worth 10 times the amount of one sale, or one inspection! I want my clients to be glad they hired me, tell all their friends what a great service I provided them! If I saved that young couple from bankruptcy, I don't care who's feet I stepped on... they obviosly didn't care about their clients anyway! I love helping people and helping them realize their dreams!! To all of you that said you would tell them... great job!! To those of you who said they would be mad, shame on you, your clients are your largest assets!! You won't lose the sale, just some time to help them find the right home for them and their family!!!!


Thank you all for commenting!!!

Sep 28, 2017 06:04 PM #56
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

I have no problem telling my buyers a house is a POS way before we ever get to writing an offer, especially first time buyers. I believe it's my responsibility to advise and even protect them from making the biggest mistake of their lives. You're right when most of the time the inspection will tell a buyer that they need to move on. And I would hope that any inspector that had a conscience like apparently you do, would tell a buyer directly they shouldn't buy it. If you lived in my area, I would recommend you in a heart beat. 

Sep 28, 2017 07:06 PM #57
Melissa Jackson
Century 21 Alliance Properties - Azle, TX
Helping You Make The Right Move

Yes, I have suggested to a client they shouldn't purchase a certain home. Somehow it will eventually be my fault in the future once they realize they made a mistake.

Sep 28, 2017 09:02 PM #58
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

By the way, "The Money Pit" was a very funny movie.  "I gotta be me...."

Sep 29, 2017 03:10 AM #59
John Dotson
Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC - Highlands, NC
The experience to get you to the other side!

Fred,  I have absolutely told folks they should not buy a home - especially when acting as a buyers agent.

There are just some properties that people need to stay away from for one reason or the other - unless they have more money than God or don't care about the circumstances.  Then we write it up!

Sep 29, 2017 08:58 AM #60
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hey Fred,  I have come close  couple of times but I ask them to rate the house doing the inspection and lots of time they have come down in rating then we talk again.


Oct 01, 2017 06:42 AM #70
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great post!  Love the Money Pit referenced picture.  I've told many clients not to buy a house.  One client got upset with me and I never heard from him again.  I told him not to buy a delapidated old house on a busy street corner.  His wife is now a licensed realtor, pretty good at it, and I'm sure they are working together. That's okay because she's on my green committee and thinks I rock.  It's all about being honest!

Oct 12, 2017 09:09 AM #71
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

I have never advised against buying a home but I did advise against renting a home once.

Oct 26, 2017 09:17 AM #72
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Fred, I don't think I've ever said to someone they cannot buy something but I've definitely made sure they understood what they would be getting into if they did. 

Nov 21, 2017 11:40 AM #73
Scott Cotton
Texas Inspected - Midlothian, TX
Texas Inspected

As an inspector, I have only told one customer that they shouldn't buy a house. They were a young couple with a bunch of kids, and the hous ein question had some scary electrical issues as well as signifigant roof and foundation problems. I told them that this was not their house and that they should look a little bit more. A few days later, the buyer's mom called me. The mom is a realtor and thanked me for talking her daughter out of the bad house. She has since referred me to about 100 of her clients.

I have also had a couple of situations where I am inspecting an investment property for a friend. If things start to look bad and expensive in the first 20 minutes, I'll call them and tell them "The roof is toast, the foundation is cracked and there is a leak in the upstairs bathroom. If I stop now, you just owe me lunch."

When asked the question "Would you buy this house?" My response is usually: "I would let my mother buy this house, but I would make sure she understands the issues that need to be addressed so that she could decide if it's worth the investment of time and money".

Nov 29, 2017 02:40 PM #74
Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector
SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno - Bourbonnais, IL
The Home Inspector With a Heart!

I've done this a couple times when asked if they should buy the house. I say those exact words you used, "I can't say whether or not you should buy the house, that's what you and your agent must decide." But the entire time I'm saying those words, my head is shaking side to side, NO NO NO

Dec 29, 2017 05:09 AM #75
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Fred Hernden, CMI

Albuquerque area Master Inspector
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