What Agents Really Want from Home Inspectors

For home inspectors who don’t market directly to the home buying public, real estate agents and brokers can make or break your business. While there’s always a direct conflict of interest, particularly in homes with significant flaws, these real estate pros say that there are basic guidelines that can help both parties achieve what they want. Here’s how to deal with real estate professionals.

Value the Agent’s Time

You’ve done your prep work, scheduled the inspection, driven out to the home and are ready to put in the work. Heather Gennette, head of Heather Homes OC real estate agents in Orange County, California, appreciates it when inspectors also respect the fact that agents have put in substantial work on their ends before getting to the home inspection stage.

“…all buyers are valuable and to get them to the inspection stage, we have worked hard,” she says.

To show the agent that you value his or her work in addition to your own, Gennette says that she appreciates it when inspectors include her when they explain issues with a home and when they quantify how big or small the problem actually is.

“Every home will have a laundry list of items that need to be done to it,” she says. “[My inspector] is able to explain the things that are wrong and quantify the scope of repairs.”

Be Honest

Contrary to popular belief, not all agents want their inspectors to dance around the problem. Out of the 15 agents who responded to our questions, 100 percent stated that honesty and ability to give a thorough inspection were the top two things they looked for in home inspectors.

John F. Sullivan, vice president of Buyer’s Edge Co. brokerage firm in Washington DC, says that inspectors who do their jobs well help him do his job well.

“I only use ASHI certified inspectors who aren’t concerned with the fall out
of their findings,” he says. “I want them to make their report factual and let me and the client use the defects as a negotiating tool. If the clients isn’t comfortable with [the] finding, I have no qualms with using the inspection contingency to kill the deal…My inspector’s focus and mine is making the buyer fully aware of the condition of the home before they go to settlement.”

Triage the Problems

All homes have issues, but some are far more pressing than others. For the nervous buyer, even cosmetic issues can sound like deal-breaking flaws.

“I need a inspector who can clearly convey to the owner/ buyer the differences between common problems they find and the issues that really need to be addressed,” explains Dave Grant, owner of Sold By Dave Grant realty in Las Vegas. “The manner in which it is delivered plays a key role into how both parties react. We always try to find a win/win scenario for both buyer and seller.”

A valuable part of that win/win is explaining problems and offering solutions adds Grant.

“If there is a real deal killer [or] major issue, I like the inspector to be straight up and clear on the issue and anything that could be done to rectify the problem,” he says.

Know Who to Call

One way to maintain inspector integrity without automatically sending a buyer heading for the hills is to introduce problems, explain how bad it is and present a solution says Heather Gennette.

“[The inspector I work with] understands how to explain things that are wrong with the home in a non-threatening way as well as offer dollar amounts that the fixes maybe so as to put it into prospective,” she says.

While it’s a conflict of interest for home inspectors to offer repair services and many agents don’t want inspectors to make personal recommendations for contractors, telling a buyer what type of specialist can fix a problem could be the difference between saving a deal and losing it. Inspectors themselves should also act as instructors in addition to inspectors says Janice B. Leis, an associate broker with Prudential Fox and Roach in Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey.

They have a previous background with new construction (building) and are good teachers to all buyers and can identify possible issues making suggestions as to what type of ‘specialist’ needs to be called in to re evaluate. That their language is simple for all involved to grasp & understand.

“[Inspectors should be] good teachers to all buyers and can identify possible issues making suggestions as to what type of ‘specialist’ needs to be called in to re-evaluate,” she says.

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