The Realtor and Home Inspector - a delicate relationship

By
Home Inspector with A Closer Look Home Inspections

I have read a few blogs recently regarding the sometimes strenuous relationshp that exists between the realtor and the home inspector.  Realtors describing the characteristics of a home inspector as the perverbial "deal killer" and inspectors indicating being asked by shady realtors to overlook certain problems in any particular home just to "make the sale".

Realtors who ask you to hide or overlook certain things should most definately cause red flags to go up - not only in the mind of the home inspector, but the buyer/seller as well.  Personally, I will definately run from doing business with such realtors - they do NOT have the clients best interest at heart.  That being said, I think there are a lot of inspectors who are in fact "deal killers" and a lot of the time it is the home inspector that causes the problems. 

Far to many inspectors have no people skills whatsoever.  Nor do they know how to present their findings in such a way as to remain true to the ethical standards of the industry, and at the same time not killing the deal for the realtor.  Sometimes, in the best interest of the client, the deal MUST be killed!  However, as inspectors when we find questionable items during our inspection we need to be able to communicate those findings to the client in such a way so that if at all possible, we don't kill the deal. 

Understanding and communicating the difference between what needs to be repaired verses what is just general maintenance will go a long way in calming the realtor questions about you being a deal killer, as well as the client's fears about being sucked into buying a death trap! 

For example...while inspecting the roof, we find several valleys are in very bad shape.  A lot of inspectors will report to the client that the roof is shot and needs to be replaced.  A statement like this will very likely kill the deal!  Not to mention give the realtor fits!  We definately don't cover anything up, but I would investigate a little more....perhaps all that is needed is a "roof tuneup".  You know, if the surrounding shingles are fine, just repair/replace the valleys.  Presenting some sort of solution forces the client to see the big picture of what "could be" - it gives them hope and that makes them happy...and if their happy, Mr/Mrs Realtor is happy as well.

yes, the relationship between realtor and home inspector is definately a delicate one, but one that must be maintained nonetheless.

Calvin Bailey
A Closer Look Home Inspections
cbailey1@on.nachi.org
http://www.inspectorpages.com/cbailey1

Comments (186)

Mitchell Captain
AllSpec Professional Property Inspections Inc - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Home inspections in Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach

That is pretty much what I do. If my client wants to buy a POS that is their decision. I just want my client to know what is wrong and how much is it going to cost to correct.

I do seminars for first time home buyer and one point I make is that no matter what the home inspector finds it can be corrected. It’s only about how much money.

May 25, 2008 05:50 AM
Sylvie Conde
Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage - Toronto, ON
Broker, Toronto Real Estate

Calvin, I just had 3 home inspections done in Oshawa this week.  I have had a great relationship with every single home inspector I've worked with, only because I do want them to be totally honest with my clients, so that we can BOTH ensure that the people I represent, are getting a good home, or a home that has few issues, that can easily and cheaply be resolved.  If the issues are bigger, then I will re-negotiate with the seller.

If the home inspector has trouble with 'delivery', however, and I see that the words coming out of his or her mouth are only going to cause panic, and I don't see him correcting what he's saying, then I will step in and I will say:  "Would you mind if I said that differently? Please confirm if this is what you mean, so it's easier for my clients to understand....". Then I proceed to tell my clients what I think he's saying, in a way that doesn't panic them, but still being honest, and I get the inspector to say yes, that's what I mean, or no, that's not it.  If communication skills aren't a problem, I never step in. 

One inspection was great. The second inspection required work done, that I'm having the seller do within a week, with an opportunity for the buyer to verify it was done professionally, and in case #3, I'm getting my buyer $20,000 back from the seller, to fix a huge problem the seller didn't want to repair before closing.  (Probably would have cost the seller about half to do himself, but I figured I'd get more back for my clients, because it will be very inconvenient for them ...).

Your post is great. You should send it to all other home inspectors anonymously :) and now that I know about you, I'll put you on my list of home inspectors (I always provide the client with a list of inspectors and let them pick).

(Not for Calvin necessarily, but any home inspector who releases reports to third parties)...  
As far as releasing the report to any other parties, it is not your report to release to anyone.  This is something the BUYER paid for, and it is the Buyer's property.  If someone else wants a 'peak' at a report, let them pay for their own.

 

 

May 25, 2008 11:08 AM
Sylvie Conde
Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage - Toronto, ON
Broker, Toronto Real Estate

I finally had time to read ALL the comments and go through everything in more detail.  I have to say, something has definitely gone wrong here ... (mis)communication???

I absolutely want the home inspector to be honest with my clients as far as what he sees, or what he knows to be true.  I don't, however, want him to say something outside of his area of expertise.  If necessary, I will bring in electricians, or plumbers, or roofers, or whoever we need to bring in, and I expect the home inspector to recommend that to the client, if he thinks it's necessary.  I don't want the client to lose the house, if they love it, and especially if the problem isn't as bad as it may sound (just had a case like that, about a 'shot roof that would cost $15K to replace, according to the home inspector.  It cost $3,000 and it wasn't what he said it was, and I brought in a roofer, and renegotiated and had the work done professionally and re-inspected, before the conditions were removed.)  If the house has huge problems, and he is being thorough, and it is as bad as it seems, then we are glad to know, and we move on to another one.

All I expect is that the home inspector does his job and does it to the best of his ability, without making comments outside of his areas of expertise, or making them in such a way that he actually is saying things that may not necessarily be true.  I do care about a client passing on a house because the inspector scared the living daylights out of them (exagerated to the point that they now doubt everything). I do care if the client loves that house and takes a second choice, because the home inspector may not even have brought a ladder, yet he has an opinion on the chimney or the roof.   

May 27, 2008 09:11 AM
Meli Gerogianis
JKA Properties (Meli G Realty & Investment Group) - Clarksville, TN
Broker, CRS, ABR, SFR, CDPE, Licensed in TN & KY

I would agree with many before me that it is important to have a good relationship with the home inspector and that honesty and trust must be there. I can also relate to the pushy realtors that sometimes would try to get the inspector to cover things up just so the deal doesn't fall thru. I'm currently working with a buyer and the seller's agent is doing just that. We asked for just a few little things to be done (it's a new construction) and the builder, who was present at the inspection, agreed to do them until he consulted with his agent. After that everything went down hill. I made sure to consult my client as well, and advised him to hold back and reschedule the closing as a warning to the seller that if things don't get done as they should, we will find another house to buy.

May 27, 2008 01:44 PM
Sylvie Conde
Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage - Toronto, ON
Broker, Toronto Real Estate

I agree that some real estate agents are not just pushy but try to hide defects.  I recently had a case where the seller's agent got angry with me and wanted to speak with my client directly, to 'try to save the deal', because I was 'doing it wrong'.  By doing it wrong, she meant that I was being honest with my client, and I was confirming that the issues in the house were a lot worse than we were led to believe.   It was a very difficult situation and one I'm glad to say worked out in my client's favour, as I was able to get them money back to fix the problems. The agent was much harder to deal with than the seller; and it was the agent who tried to hide a huge electrical problem.  I guess there's good and bad everywhere.  We just have to make sure that we look after our client's best interests, whether that means dealing with an unethical agent or dealing with a home inspector who comments outside his area of expertise.

Also, for the home inspectors who may be wondering: when my client, the buyer, hires a home inspector to INSPECT a property, neither me nor my client want him to tighten any screws, or fix any plumbing, or touch anything at all that he's not supposed to, because after all, it's the buyer who is paying for this service and we do not want to do anything the seller may not be happy with. And besides, it's not our job or responsibility to 'fix' anything. We are INSPECTING. Let's not cause problems for our buyers, thank you.

May 27, 2008 03:18 PM
Liz Moras Migic
Chilliwack, BC
Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor

Wow this is an old post - and still getting comments!  Absolutely agree.......we want to know 'all the dirt'...........but portrayed in perspective and solution oriented presentations ........from 'people oriented inspectors!'  Is that too much to ask?  lol..........

Jun 02, 2008 10:33 AM
Michael "Mike" Miller
EXIT REALTY SERVICES - Moon Township, PA
My service will move you! Help me, help you!

Calvin,  I feel that the two most important parts of you post are that Home Inspectors need to learn to properly communicate their findings and that both parties, Inspectors and Agents, must maintain a relationship to protects their clients.  Mike

Jul 03, 2008 02:30 AM
John Mattoon
Mold Check Professionals, Inc. - Los Angeles, CA

Hi Calvin, I appreciate your post very much. I couldn't agree with you more, it's all in the presentation. I'm the mold inspector and I think it can be an even more delicate situation for us!

Jul 03, 2008 04:41 AM
Mitchell Captain
AllSpec Professional Property Inspections Inc - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Home inspections in Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach

I feel that the two most important parts of you post are that Home Inspectors need to learn to properly communicate their findings and that both parties, Inspectors and Agents, must maintain a relationship to protects their clients.

 

I agree, I think Real Estate offices should offer courses so that the home inspector will learn how to communicate with buyers. As to the second part, it is just as important for the inspector to learn whether the agents prefer bagels or doughnuts.

Jul 03, 2008 09:51 AM
Mike Warren
Prudential Missoula Properties - Missoula, MT

Great information...just what I was looking for.

thanks and good luck!

Mike Warren

Jul 03, 2008 10:12 AM
Andrew Haslett
Van Warren Home Inspections, NAHI CRI - Fort Knox, KY
Heartland of Kentuckynulls, Best Home Inspector

Calvin,

Thanks for bringing some good discussion to the table.

Liz noted this is an old post and still getting comments. While you may have posted this quite some time ago, the issues are still current.

I don't tell people that something has to be fixed or not. I tell them what they've got. I summarize the potential safety hazards, and items that are not operating as they were intended to be operated.

Lots of comments about a roof: I won't tell someone they have to replace an older roof. I will tell them that, for example, an asphalt shingle roof is intended to function for 15 - 20 years. If the roof is 20 years old, they know it is at the end of its useful life.

Another one I see often is multiple layers of roofing. The manufacturers specify that old roof layers are to be removed before installing a new roof membrane. In such instances, I point out that the roof may not have been installed in accordance with the manufacturer's requirements, and encourage them to contact a roofer.

Sadly, in this part of the country, there are a lot of roofers who do not know their trade. I've only come across a couple that do.

Home inspectors do not kill deals - houses do.

Mar 16, 2009 04:53 AM
Andrew Haslett
Van Warren Home Inspections, NAHI CRI - Fort Knox, KY
Heartland of Kentuckynulls, Best Home Inspector

Calvin,

Thanks for bringing some good discussion to the table.

Liz noted this is an old post and still getting comments. While you may have posted this quite some time ago, the issues are still current.

I don't tell people that something has to be fixed or not. I tell them what they've got. I summarize the potential safety hazards, and items that are not operating as they were intended to be operated.

Lots of comments about a roof: I won't tell someone they have to replace an older roof. I will tell them that, for example, an asphalt shingle roof is intended to function for 15 - 20 years. If the roof is 20 years old, they know it is at the end of its useful life.

Another one I see often is multiple layers of roofing. The manufacturers specify that old roof layers are to be removed before installing a new roof membrane. In such instances, I point out that the roof may not have been installed in accordance with the manufacturer's requirements, and encourage them to contact a roofer.

Sadly, in this part of the country, there are a lot of roofers who do not know their trade. I've only come across a couple that do.

Home inspectors do not kill deals - houses do.

Mar 16, 2009 04:53 AM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy There Calvin

Something that I've been finding going on alot lately, is there are alot of New Hampshire agents, asking for Home Inspectors to give them a kick back from the Inspections, that the agents has sent the Client their way.

Baker Home Energy Audit and Commercial Properties Inspections Blog Signature

Jan 10, 2010 09:08 AM
Andy Chaudoir
Professional Inspection Services - Georgetown, Texas - Georgetown, TX
Your Home Inspection Connection in Central Texas

Hello Calvin - Nice job with your post.  You did a great job explaining the tightrope we sometimes have to walk.

Jan 29, 2010 06:58 AM
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com) - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

Kickbacks, Dale.  Surely you are kidding us.  Realtors wouldn't do that, would they?????

Times must be REALLY desparate in your neck of the woods!!

Hard to believe!  No not really.  There's one agency in Northern Kentucky who, in a round about way, practices the same thing.

They call it an advertising fee.  It costs you this much to get on their "list" and this much per inspection you do.

I choose not to play as do most other inspectors, but there's always one that'll cave.

HMMM, just checked.  I guess the agents in Calvin's area must not have really appreciated his approach. He hasn't posted anything since May 2007.  Almost three years ago! 

Anyone know if he's still in business?-

Jan 30, 2010 10:39 PM
Baker Home Inspection and Commercial Properties Inspections
Baker Residential and Commercial Properties Inspections - Springfield, VT
Home and Commercial Properties Inspections Vermont

Howdy and morning to you Calvin

Calvin, mighty fine blog post to read.

Dale

Sep 10, 2010 08:07 PM
Baker Home Inspection and Commercial Properties Inspections
Baker Residential and Commercial Properties Inspections - Springfield, VT
Home and Commercial Properties Inspections Vermont

Howdy and morning to you Calvin

Calvin, mighty fine blog post to read.

Dale

Sep 10, 2010 08:07 PM
Steven Turetsky
Comprehensive Building Inspections & Consultants - Staten Island, NY
Building Moisture Analyst

I believe the best relationship to maintain with a real estate agent is strictly business. Friendly, respectful, but strictly business.

I don't want to be their friend. I don't want to feel bad if their sale does not happen.

As far as the term Deal Killer, in most cases, I find the Real Deal Killer is usually the seller; by refusing to negotiate the conditions that have been discovered.

As far as blaming the Home Inspector... that is hogwash!

It is the inspector's job to inform the client of conditions that exist in the home. Are we expected to overlook what we see in order to promote a sale? 

As far as jumping up and down, and causing panic when something is found, well I think that is the sign of an inexperienced inspector. As far as "sugar coating" a report in order to assist in the sale, well that is a disgrace!

I find plenty of problems when inspecting a home. I don't think I have the right to decide which should not be included in a report. But I also believe that if each condition is properly explained to a client, they will realize that many are minuscule, and can be expected.

I have had a number os sales not happen as a result of what my inspection has discovered, but in the same sentence, I must add that it was not because my client was scared away. But instead, as I mentioned earlier, it was because the seller walked away.

Jul 07, 2011 02:57 PM
Steven Turetsky
Comprehensive Building Inspections & Consultants - Staten Island, NY
Building Moisture Analyst

By the way, I wonder if the cost of insurance would drop, and if lawsuits would become less frequant, if more Home Inspectors focused more on informing their clients about the condition of a house, and less on being labeled a "Deal Killer."

Jul 07, 2011 03:11 PM
Baker Home Inspection and Commercial Properties Inspections
Baker Residential and Commercial Properties Inspections - Springfield, VT
Home and Commercial Properties Inspections Vermont

Calvin, I'm stopping back by in-order to check to see if you had started being active on your blog here agin or not. But it sure looks like you are not.

Jul 27, 2013 11:05 PM