There is a common misconception that home inspectors are “deal killers,” who damage a real estate agent’s chances of closing a deal. We’re going to discuss how that can be harmful, and we’re going to discuss what actually kills the deal! I believe that generally speaking, there are three things that lead to the death of a deal. It may be surprising to some, especially to some real estate agents, but the home inspector is NOT on the list! Sometimes, the home inspection uncovers something that changes the buyer’s expectations in a significant way. If we look at the situation in this manner, a cancellation is dependent on what expectations the client had going into the inspection and the realization that the home is not perfect (They are never perfect). Sometimes we encounter a real estate agent who just really wishes that the home inspector had been a little less honest, less thorough about the home, or simply provided less information. This of course implies a desire to deceive the buyer or a minimum a desire for the buyer to be less informed on the condition of the property. The best way to solve this problem is to simply encourage the buyers to have more realistic expectations right up front and to inform them that no home is perfect and issues will be found.
Often, the problem is simply that the buyer is unprepared. There are no classes in high school or college that teach people anything about what it is like to own a home, and even real estate agents get very little or no training on how to look at houses and identify problems. Especially recently, this problem has been exacerbated by a new generation of home buyers who are unfamiliar with home-ownership. Most homebuyers do not see home inspection reports on a regular basis and may be overwhelmed once they finally see a normal inspection report. We had one home buyer not want to buy a home simply because there was an inspection report. The buyer expected the home to be perfect enough that there would not be any report. In that case, the agent had not discussed with the buyer what to expect in regards to home inspection reports. There is always a report.
Finally, today’s latest technology has drastically improved the quality of home inspection reporting. Nowadays, when someone hires a quality home inspector, they can expect to receive a report made up of up to forty to sixty pages, complete with dozens of high-resolution color photos, detailed diagrams, and links to provide additional information. Our typical report is 18-25 pages. The ease of adding images to reports has greatly added to the page count of reports. However, the images do make locations and issues far easier to understand making the need for follow-up calls lower. Simply put, clients have access to so much more information and so much more data about each individual house than ever before, and this information dump can be overwhelming, especially for a brand new homeowner who was not properly prepped by the agent involved.
To sum it up, home inspectors are a very important part of the home buying process. Quality home inspectors provide buyers with complete transparency, allowing them to fully get a grasp of what to expect in their potential home. Home inspections are key to risk management for everyone. Home inspection companies and home inspectors get paid to inspect and report conditions. Their pay is not dependent upon if the property sells or not. The primary goal of a home inspector is to provide accurate and truthful information. By being thorough, accurate, and truthful the inspector protects the home buyer, agents, and they keep themselves from being in trouble. The biggest deal-killer is the home buyer not being prepared for information!
Deal Killers or Nightmare Preventers? We had a brief discussion with a home buyer (we were doing our 2nd or 3rd inspection for her) and the idea of home inspectors being deal killers came up. She quickly stated that the previous home inspection(s) saved her from nightmare situations. It was discussed how some agents are not interested in thorough inspections because they want the home to be sold so they can get a commission check. To home buyers, the home inspector is the safety net and the preventer of nightmares. To good ethical agents, the home inspector is risk management for buyers and agents. To agents that only want sales no matter the consequences to the buyer, home inspectors are an obstacle.
Agents that only want the sales and criticize the home inspector or the report as a way to diminish the information reported to “get the sale” are a liability to the home buyer (what else is the agent fudging the buyer may wonder) and a liability to the agency that the agent works for. Bad agents are not worthy of referrals and likely will not see growth in sales over the years because of lack of referrals. We know that most agents are ethical and professional. We have the best and most honest and caring agents referring home buyers to us. Many of the top agents and teams have Habitation Investigation on their recommended list. The agents that really standout sometimes unfortunately are the ones that ask home inspectors to show less information, to not tell the buyers if the water heater is old, and those that complain that the home inspector identified too many items on the report. Inspectors do not control the condition of the home and what the home seller has done to the place over the years and decades. The home inspector just reports the facts. That is hard for some to understand and it is unethical for an agent to try to influence or change report findings. How to find an ethical real estate agent? Ask a home inspector!