Home Inspectors - Friend or Enemy?

Home Inspector with Certified Inspections, PC - Residential & Commercial Property Inspections TN HI #334

Yes is the answer; it simply depends on your perspective.  If you truly have the home, the neigborhood or the clients best in mind then a home inspector is your friend.  Take a simple test; What is defective or broken in a home that you don't want the buyer to know about?  If there is an item that you can come up with, then you fail the test.  To avoid liability as a real estate agent you want your client to know everything they possibly can about the home before the purchase.  If your client is looking to someone else (the home inspector) to provide them with information about the properties condition, then your liability is almost entirely removed.  Certainly the focus is no longer on you.   

After fifteen years as a home inspector with well over 5000 inspections performed I have almost a perfect record of home buyers that are happy with me and think of me as their friend.  On the other hand, with real estate agents I find the pecentage to be about 40/60.  40 percent view me as a resource and as a ligitimate asset to their professionalism and 60 percent think of me as a problem causer to be avoided if possible.  But wait; we have the same clients, why would the percentages be different?  If the purchaser is happy with the home inspector, why isint the real estate agent?

A home inspector should only be your enemy if your client is your enemy as well.

Comments (11)

Sam Miller
RE/MAX Stars Realty - Howard, OH
Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist

Paul, I agree with your post on one level but I have to qualify that it truly depends on the specific inspector and their attitude regarding their role.  Many of us have been involved in a transaction where the inspector was recommending that the buyer totally renegotiate the purchase offer due to cosmetic issues even when the purchase contract very specifically stated that the home inspection was for non cosmetic issues only.  We are fortunate that in our market we have 3 different outstanding inspectors who our buyers appreciate and respect.

May 18, 2008 10:53 PM
David Holden
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector - Akron, OH
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit

Hi Paul,  You are absolutely right.  I have seen this comment posted by an REA, "Home inspectors are a necessary evil in this business."  That sums up the attitude of many REA towards home inspections.  I do agree with Sam's comment though,  HI's should NOT be recommending ANY renegotiation's take place, for anything.  It is up to the client.  We can put estimated values and costs if requested, but I always suggest estimates from qualified companies.

May 19, 2008 12:57 AM
Mitchell Captain
AllSpec Professional Property Inspections Inc - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Home inspections in Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach

David and Sam

I agree with you about the cosmetics and home inspectors should not be commenting in their report about cosmetics.

Here is my problem; on a number of occasions the REA for my client has told them they can not renegotiate because the house is “as is”. And that is just wrong beside being stupid.

It is not my job to tell the client to negotiate the repairs but somebody in the transactions needs to tell them they can try.

May 19, 2008 01:21 AM
MC2 Home Inspections
MC2 Home Inspections LLC - Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis home inspection service 317-605-3432

While I agree that Home Inspectors should not say anything to the client about negotiating sales price (that simply is not our job). I believe that it is pretty commonplace in todays real estate world that the buyer negotiates after the inspection.

I personally have owned 7 homes over the last 20 years, and on every single one of them, it was always contingent on the Home Inspection, After the Inspection took place, a list was made of the spectific repairs that needed to be made on the home. Then that list was transferred over to the counter offer to see what the seller would or would not fix. It has been that way ever since Moses was a kid, so I am not understanding REA's that say the home should be sold as-is.

This must be something relatively new that the REA's are doing to avoid the dreaded Deal Killer Inspections??

May 19, 2008 02:47 AM
Paul A. Perry
Certified Inspections, PC - Residential & Commercial Property Inspections - Crossville, TN
Home Inspector - Crossville & Cookeville, TN

If I understand things correctly, there is a standard real estate sales contract that offers the purchaser the opertunity to inspect the home or have a professional inspect the home.  If the purchaser opts to use this clause then the contract is contengint upon a satisfactory home inspection.  The purchaser has three options after the inspection; proceed with the purchase with the home in its current condition, ask for whatever repairs they want to out of items in the inspection report that are listed as defective or collect their earnest money and go look for another home if the home is deamed to be unsatisfactory. 

There is a different contract that offers a home for sale "AS IS", for example, most repo's.  The condition of the home has nothing to do with the purchase contract, whether you have the home inspected or not, it's irrelevant.

Some confusion comes in when new or not fully trained real estate agents have a listing where the current owner says," I'm selling the home just the way it is; I aint fixin a dang thing".  "As Is" depends on the contract, not on someones stated position.      

May 19, 2008 06:27 AM
Roland Woodworth
Blue Cord Realty - Clarksville, TN
Blue Cord Realty

Paul: A home inspectors are hired to find issues with a home. Some take that to heart. Buyers love it, seller hate it.

May 19, 2008 03:36 PM
Kevin O'Shea
Coldwell Banker - White Plains, NY
White Plains, NY Real Estate

Hi Paul,

After 25 years in this business I have seen great and lousy inspectors.

A great inspector...

Inspects  the house, tells "Our client" every thing that is wrong with the house and gives them an idea of what it would cost to fix.

He makes statements in a matter-of-fact way and does not scare the buyer. 

Whats wrong, how much to fix, objective and honest.

A lousy inspector...

Looks at the house states things in a scary way and goes outside his area of expertise says "this house is not worth the money" etc. I don't talk about boilers, you don't talk about house values.


Not what you say as an inspector how you say it.

All the best!

May 19, 2008 03:48 PM
Paul A. Perry
Certified Inspections, PC - Residential & Commercial Property Inspections - Crossville, TN
Home Inspector - Crossville & Cookeville, TN


The perspective of the buyer and seller is accepted as a given.  The Post and comments are related to the attitude of the real estate agents involved.  If you are the listing agent on a home and the home inspector finds unknown but fairly serious damage or defects, are you glad that this is brought to light so the home will be in better condition after repairs or are you bummed out and ticked at the home inspector for doing what he was hired for?  Being able to understand others perspectives is a huge step in a better relationship.  That's what I'm searching for here, a better understanding between real estate agents and home inspectors.


If the home inspector has the knowledge and experience to provide a realistic and professional report, I think you are absolutely correct.  At that point it comes down to "people" and "communication" skills.  

May 20, 2008 02:27 AM
Scott Patterson, ACI
Trace Inspections, LLC - Spring Hill, TN
Home Inspector, Middle TN

The other day I had an agent get upset with me about a report I did on a home.  The home had only a few issues, nothing earth shattering or anything that could not be overcome.  Keep in mind that this agent had been selling for about three years, or so she said. This is what I found:

  1. A leaking TPR valve on the water heater
  2. A broken disposal in the kitchen
  3. A bad GFCI that would not trip
  4. A section of rotting wood on an exterior railing on the porch.
  5. The grounding conductors were not bonded to the panel downstream from the service equipment.

All in all the home was in good condition, it just needed to have some items repaired and none of them were major.

She was upset because I did not highlight the good points of the home and talk up how great it was!  She was surprised when I told her that was her job and that as an agent she needs to present the better aspects of the home.  I also told her that she needs to realize that the items I found are minor in nature.  She then said that her seller was refusing to make the repairs and that she was sure the buyers would walk!   I then responded with this:  "If you were buying this home, wouldn't you want to have all of the items corrected.  They are all mechanical in nature and as such are covered under the sales contract.  If I was the buyer and the seller refused, I would walk away also."

About an hour later she called and had another agent (more experienced) on the line and she asked if I would go over the items with the other agent.  After a couple of minutes, the other agent said that this was not a problem and she would make sure the items were corrected for the buyers.  She was taking control of the situation and the seller.

It all boils down to the experiance of the professionals who are involved in the transaction.

May 21, 2008 03:13 AM
Paul A. Perry
Certified Inspections, PC - Residential & Commercial Property Inspections - Crossville, TN
Home Inspector - Crossville & Cookeville, TN


This is an excellent feed into the conversation!  Thankfully this somewhat inexperienced realtor sought help from someone who knew the ins and outs of the proccess.  But if not, in all likelyhood this would have been another situation where the talk around the real estate agents office would have been; "We lost another deal because of the nit-picky, ridiculous home inspector."

I would also add that a home inspector can not dictate (and should not be held responcible for) what the responce of the purchaser is to the information in the home inspection report.  I have seen many instances where basically the same information is given to two different clients and one will look over the report, ask some relevent questions and say,"No big deal, I didn't think it was perfect and I plan to do some work on it anyway."  The other client will look at the information and say,"Wow, no way, I'm not buying that house, I don't care what they agree to fix."  Is the home inspector some how responcible for the latters illogical reaction?  I say, no more than he is responcible for the formers laid-back reaction.  People are as different as snow flakes, and a home inspector should be judged by the consistancy of his/her professionalism and abilities and not by the reaction of our customers.     

May 21, 2008 08:28 AM
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

I agree with most of the above comments. But I have seen inexperienced agents panic at some of the smallest things. Some of them are so afraid their buyer will walk. I try to assure these agents, and their clients that the items listed are minor (when they are), and that there is an easy, or inexpensive fix. Some newbie buyers also get scared when they hear about minor defects, so they need a little more explanation sometimes to help get them through it.

Jul 05, 2008 11:48 PM