When Buyers Use their Inspectors
It is not uncommon for buyers to find their inspectors. Often it’s because they already know them or because they are going on the advice of a friend. It is also possible that they believe that odds suggest that realtors who recommend inspectors are providing business for inspectors, thereby creating an intrinsic conflict that can work against their interests. The thought here is that because the real estate agent is recommending the inspector, and providing the inspector with business, the inspector will use a “kinder eye” when inspecting the property than he would if he was not linked to the agent. Many articles, web pages, inspection company advertising portfolios, and even YouTube videos publish information that encourages home buyers to find their inspectors. Regardless of the buyer’s motivation, if he is determined to provide his inspector, and you and your brokerage are not familiar with the person that the buyer wishes to use, you should ask the buyer, in writing, for validation of the individual’s professional credibility. The fact is that buyers who choose unqualified inspectors commonly have grounds for bringing suit against their real estate representative for not adequately counseling them when they should have; so, being able to show that you attempted to ensure that the buyer’s interests were met may be a crucial factor in avoiding liability. One effective method you can use to do this is to send them a written memo that encourages them to qualify their inspector.
Your correspondence should also include text which releases your liability in the event the inspection they have done is performed poorly.
“I appreciate your interest in using (name) as your property inspector. To help ensure that you receive a qualified inspection, I recommend that you ask your inspector the following seven questions:
1) How long have you been an inspector;
2) What qualification do you have as an Inspector;
3) Are you insured;
4) Can you provide references
5) What does your inspection cover
6) How much do you charge
7) May I be present at the inspection?”
Your correspondence should also include text which releases your responsibility:
“As your purchasing agent to obtain (specific property address), I have recommended that you obtain a qualified property inspector. Given your decision to use an inspector that my brokerage is not familiar with, you release this agent and his (or her) brokerage of any liability of the integrity of the inspection you will conduct.”
By providing this written memo, you not only help ensure a competent inspection, you also demonstrate that you have your client’s best interest in mind and that you have appropriately advised your client.
The Most Effective Inspections
There are good inspections, and there are bad inspections and some real estate professionals are surprised to find out how those contribute to this outcome. Of course, you cannot control the behavior or efficiency of the inspector or the buyer. However, there are six things you can do to help ensure the inspection process is an effective one:
Make sure that at least one of the buyers is present. If at least one buyer cannot be there, reschedule the event. Even if it’s at the last moment. You need the buyer there. It is essential.
Encourage dialogue between the buyer and the inspector. Avoid becoming the “middle man” or point of contact between them. In some lawsuits, buyers have claimed that the relevant issues were played down by their agent. The best way to avoid this possibility is to have the buyers manage the inspector and the inspection process as a whole.
The seller should be encouraged to attend the inspection. This will give the inspector a source for any questions that he may have about repair work that has been done or any problems that have been encountered in the past. Additionally, this gives the sellers an opportunity to remember any points that they might have forgotten while completing the seller’s disclosure form. Issues or problems that might be encountered during the inspection can be resolved best when the seller is there to address them when they occur.
The seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent should be present. Especially if you’re the buyer’s agent, during the inspection, you should write down any significant points that are discovered or made during the inspection process. You should also list the questions your buyer asked the inspector, the inspector’s answers, and any issues that were not adequately addressed during the inspection. Also, it is important to note any items that the inspector marks as “fair,” “poor,” or “inadequate” without further qualification or explanation. These comments will not help you or your buyer understand what the problem is or what needs to be repaired or replaced.
Let the inspector do his job. Do not try to inspect with him. Your job is to observe, contribute to dialogue by assisting your buyers with questions and taking notes.
If possible, ensure distractions are kept to a minimum during the inspection. Encourage buyers and sellers to leave young children with a babysitter or with a relative. Additionally, try to ensure that only necessary people are present. The more people present, the greater the possibility of confusion, conversation tangents, and other distractions. Friends, relatives, and neighbors should all be discouraged from attendance.