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« Sustainability Week in Blacksburg - October 20-25 | Main | The Ever-Evolving Nature of the Blog »

October 17, 2008

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Jay Thompson

You're very welcome Jeremy, and thanks for adding to the home inspection body of knowledge!

Bob Peek

The answer to the question “what is a home inspection?” will depend on to whom the question is asked.

A real estate agent may respond that the purchase contract defines the purpose and limitations of the home inspection, but that’s not altogether correct. The purchase contract merely defines which parts of the home inspection report apply to the transaction for which the contract was executed.

A home inspector may respond that the Standards of Practice of the American Society of Home Inspectors determines just what a home inspection “is”, and since ASHI has been the standard for home inspections since 1976, that would be a good answer. But it isn’t the only answer.

Many buyers expect their home inspector to have Errors and Omissions insurance, and many real estate agents have the same expectation, since they themselves carry E&O. Insurance carriers have their own ideas about the contents of the inspection reports for which they provide coverage. One such carrier very recently issued a bulletin to its E&O customers that read, in part, “While there are obvious difficulties in defending inspection reports with word-boring, boilerplate disclosures, we recommend inspectors protect their interests by reporting conditions in great detail – even greater detail than in previous years.”

People who have nothing to do with the transaction or the inspection also have opinions about what a home inspection should include. Recently, new homeowners in our area hired a contractor to do some remodeling in the lower level of their split foyer home. When asked to make some modifications to the two bedrooms in the lower level, the contractor stated that ‘you can’t use these rooms as bedrooms because the windows are too small to provide emergency egress. Your home inspector should have told you that.’ So, the homeowner’s house has suddenly shrunk from 5 bedrooms to 3, and the homeowners have suddenly become very unhappy with their home inspector, their agent, the seller, and the agent who listed the home as a 5-bedroom.

An inspection report that accurately describes all visible conditions that affect the safety and integrity of the home will meet or exceed the expectations of the buyer, and it can help protect the seller and everyone else involved in the transaction from claims of non-disclosure. Sellers should expect nothing less from the inspectors who visit their homes.

Jeremy Hart

Bob, thanks for the comment - your expertise on this blog is much appreciated!

It seems that one of the reasons why the home inspection clause states the scope of the inspection is to create a clear expectation of responsibility among buyer, seller, real estate agents, inspectors, etc. Failure to set clear expectations among one or more of the parties involved in the inspection is one of the biggest problems I see arise out of the process. And when a Contract goes to mediation or court, the first thing that's going to be asked is "what does the Contract say?"

For this reason, I think the home inspection clause is good to have and should be referred back to. Certainly a report should be as detailed as possible - parties to the transaction need to have as accurate a snapshot as possible regarding the home; as you said, although the buyer pays for the inspection, it's in the seller's best interest to have the best inspector possible, as well.

Where we likely disagree is regarding the fact that a detailed inspection is not free reign to expect items outside the scope of that inspection to be used as a way to force action or further concessions on the part of the seller. Well, perhaps it's not so much that we'd disagree on that point, that's probably not fair to say. I'm sure someone could read that and say "well, he doesn't get paid unless the transaction happens, so he's going to do everything he can to make it go through." WRONG. Blacksburg is a small Town; I will hold my head high, and hopefully share a few laughs, when I cross paths with my former clients, and I'll be able to do that because I'll know I did the right thing. I have an obligation to represent my client's best interests, to the best of my understanding as to what they are, and attempting to make items not within the scope of the transaction part of the transaction isn't in anyone's best interest, I think.

Apologies, Bob, if this rambled a bit. I've been running all over the New River Valley the last day or so, and am even in Roanoke today, but wanted to make sure I responded this afternoon.

Jeremy Hart

Bob, thanks for the comment - your expertise on this blog is much appreciated!
It seems that one of the reasons why the home inspection clause states the scope of the inspection is to create a clear expectation of responsibility among buyer, seller, real estate agents, inspectors, etc. Failure to set clear expectations among one or more of the parties involved in the inspection is one of the biggest problems I see arise out of the process. And when a Contract goes to mediation or court, the first thing that's going to be asked is "what does the Contract say?"


• Jeremy, I’m not sure why you included “inspectors” with this group, because the inspector is not a party to the purchase contract. The scope of the inspection is determined by the standards of practice that the inspector follows, and possibly the requirements of the inspector’s insurance carrier. The home inspection clause is certainly as important as every other clause in the purchase contract, but it’s not important to the inspector.


For this reason, I think the home inspection clause is good to have and should be referred back to. Certainly a report should be as detailed as possible - parties to the transaction need to have as accurate a snapshot as possible regarding the home; as you said, although the buyer pays for the inspection, it's in the seller's best interest to have the best inspector possible, as well.
Where we likely disagree is regarding the fact that a detailed inspection is not free reign to expect items outside the scope of that inspection to be used as a way to force action or further concessions on the part of the seller. Well, perhaps it's not so much that we'd disagree on that point, that's probably not fair to say.


• We don’t agree or disagree, because I have no interest in the manner in which the information I provide is used. I infer from your statement that you see a home inspector as an advocate for the people who contract for his inspection services, but that is not the case. For any given house, my report would be the same if I was doing a pre-listing inspection for the seller of a pre-purchase inspection for a buyer.


I'm sure someone could read that and say "well, he doesn't get paid unless the transaction happens, so he's going to do everything he can to make it go through." WRONG. Blacksburg is a small Town; I will hold my head high, and hopefully share a few laughs, when I cross paths with my former clients, and I'll be able to do that because I'll know I did the right thing. I have an obligation to represent my client's best interests, to the best of my understanding as to what they are, and attempting to make items not within the scope of the transaction part of the transaction isn't in anyone's best interest, I think.


• I think everyone understands that a real estate agent has an obligation to represent the best interests of his clients. I’m not sure that everyone understands that a home inspector has an obligation to provide accurate information that meets the requirements of the inspection contract, regardless of the provisions in the purchase contract.


Apologies, Bob, if this rambled a bit. I've been running all over the New River Valley the last day or so, and am even in Roanoke today, but wanted to make sure I responded this afternoon.


• No apologies necessary. I did inspections in Christiansburg, Radford, and Huntersville, NC in the last few days. I understand completely the ever-dwindling number of hours in a day.

Home Inspector Tampa FL

This is definitely a very interesting point that has been stated. However I have not faced any case that has fallen through over inspection even after negotiations.

Black Mold Removal

Great plan discussed here.The simplicity of things make them magnificant.

Home Inspection

This is a great post. I think that way too many times buyers only look at the monthly mortgage payment and fail to account for everything else that goes with home ownership.

David

We promote pre listing inspections all the time especially since it can give the home owner time to fix the things he wants to and get reasonable quotes for repairs that he doesn't want to fix. David Lelak - Your Atlanta home inspector

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