I always encourage my buyers to have a home inspection. The inspectors who work with me are a very select group that I've hand picked based upon certain criteria in they put in their reports. I've fired a few in the past when they deviated from that criteria, but overall, I'm very thankful for the crew that works with me. Even though I'm a real estate broker, I teach a home inspection course for my state. That came about because I'm also a state contractor with 36 years as a contractor and 46 as a tradesman. I know what I'm doing, and I have zero patience for sloppy error laden home inspections.
Last year, I had a home go under contract twice only to fall apart because of home inspections. In both cases, the home inspectors were wrong, but the buyers believed them. One told the buyers that none of the three chimneys in the house were lined. He estimated it would cost $2800 per chimney to repair. I asked the buyer's agent if the home inspector climbed up on the roof and looked down in the chimneys or did he run a camera through the chimneys, and she said no. I asked how he knew they weren't lined. She said, "He's a home inspector. He just knows." Deal dead. I had the chimneys inspected by a local company and all three are lined and in good shape.
The second deal fell apart because the home inspector told the buyers there was an active leak in the second floor master bath shower. I asked the buyer's agent if the inspector had seen the leak or if he had used a moisture meter to determine if the area on the dining room ceiling was wet. No. Why not? He just knows. Ah, that's the criteria? That was one of my former home inspectors. He violated my criteria I use for inspectors and he's gone. I have zero tolerance for errors in this area.
The reality is that the previous owners had bought the home 31 years ago and the dining room ceiling had a stain on it from a previous leak that had been repaired. The drywall repairman was not qualified to make the repair. He had fixed the ceiling poorly and painted it, but he did not use Kilz on it to get rid of the stain. So, the home inspector assumed it was active. It wasn't, but neither was the deal. I had a friend remove the drywall on the ceiling, run the shower for 30 minutes and check for leaks. No leaks, and after installing new drywall, it looks awesome. But, in both cases, the home inspectors killed two deals and in both cases, they were 100% wrong.
On this third contract, I required that I be present during the home inspection. Ironically, on the day of inspection, I was tied up and couldn't make it. The buyer's agent text-ed me to try to get me there, and finally, I was able to break-away and show up. It was a meeting made in heaven. The buyer's agent, who is awesome, allowed me to walk the buyers through the property explaining the history of all repairs and upgrades. I explained to them the details of what the previous inspection reports got wrong and how I knew they were wrong. I showed them receipts where I had professionals in to confirm the inspectors were wrong.
I think their inspector was there was a bit offended that I was there speaking to the buyers, but I didn't deviate for a second. When the day was done, the buyers were happy with their purchase and the sale is heading to closing in a few weeks.
I told my inspectors that I see a day coming when buyers-sellers-and agents are going to sue home inspectors for poor quality reports that cause sales to fail. A lot of local Realtors forward their home inspection reports to me for review before asking for repairs and a lot of listing agents do the same before they accept a repair request. On a recent one, the inspector pointed out 15 things on the electrical portion that were wrong and needed to be repaired. The buyers were going to walk because of fear of an electrical fire. Ironically, the home was six years old and in near perfect condition. I took that portion of the report to the house, reviewed the write up and found that the inspector was wrong 74% of the time. How is that even possible? On another one, the inspector missed four blatant electrical code violations within 20 feet of what he considered a major inspection issue.
Don't be afraid to have professionals look at the reports you receive. Make sure the things cited are actually wrong. Before your clients sign off on repairs, make sure repairs are needed and don't be afraid to say, "No." I recently asked two of my listing clients to trust me in the home inspection requests and they agreed. One request wanted approximately $6000 in repairs and the other one wanted a new water heater and few other things. I rejected the first request straight out. I sold the house to the buyers four years ago and we made the repairs needed at that time. The buyer's agent wanted us to fork over money so the buyer could upgrade things that weren't necessary. I rejected the request and the deal closed.
The second one, the buyer's agent wanted the water heater replaced because it was in bad shape and might go bad right after the buyer moved in. I went by and looked it and looked brand new. It's not, but where the water lines and the tank meet there was a bit of corrision where dissimilar metals met and caused a fluffy looking reaction. I literally vacuumed it off, brushed the connections with a brass brush and cleaned it up. It was in excellent shape, and no repairs were done. In this case, the houses closed a few weeks later. Don't be afraid to say no if the reports are not accurate. You're responsibility is to protect your client, and this is just another arena where they can be taken advantage of. Don't let it happen.