Many home sellers feel extremely anxious when they find out that a buyer-ordered home inspection has been scheduled, because they have heard stories about inspections that revealed structural or mechanical problems with homes. Because repairs or other solutions were found to be necessary the sale of the property was delayed, repair allowances had to be made, or the price offered by the buyer was lowered. Some consumers even consider a home inspection a “deal killer” because they have such intense fear of the whole inspection process and what it can potentially reveal in terms of the vulnerabilities or shortcomings of a property.
But the truth of the matter is that there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to a home inspection. The professional inspector is actually an asset to both the buyer and the seller because he or she has been trained to evaluate the home in a neutral and expert manner. The inspector will report each finding in writing according to the rules and regulations that govern the inspection industry in each particular region of the country, and any recommendations for repairs are made with the best interest of safety and optimum home system functionality in mind.
Consider for a moment what might happen if there were no licensed and certified home inspectors, for example, which was the situation for buyers and sellers a few decades ago. Without the expert guidance and impartial insight and observations of a home inspector the seller was oftentimes uninformed about the actual condition of their own home. If a buyer came along and offered less for the home, claiming that it was not in good condition, the seller had little evidence to the contrary.
A handyman or building contractor could be hired to assess the situation, but sometimes those people had a conflict of interest. Perhaps the contractor was a friend or family member of either the buyer or the seller or the handyman was affiliated with the real estate agent. Maybe the expert that was brought in to study the house was trained as an electrician but did not have any working knowledge of roofing systems, plumbing, or foundation engineering. So the buyer and seller might be skeptical of any results or recommendations, and the participation of the third party contractor was of little actual value in terms of settling issues and moving the sales transaction forward.
Of course it has always been possible to hire a licensed engineer to evaluate a home, and these highly educated and well-trained professionals can stamp documents in an official, industry-recognized and respected capacity. But because of their unique qualifications engineers also charge a lot of money for their time, and it may not be feasible to hire an engineer just to help a buyer make a good decision about buying a home. Bringing in an engineer or a team of engineers might cost nearly as much as it costs to hire a Realtor, for example, and that makes such an expense difficult to justify.
Meanwhile a standard buyer-ordered home inspection for the average sized home might only cost $300 or so, making it a nominal expense for a highly valuable service. The inspector is bound by professional ethics to remain impartial, and in states where the inspection industry is officially regulated that kind of professional impartiality is mandated by law. So both the buyer and the seller can trust the findings of the inspector and rely on those as a valid assessment. This protects the buyer from inadvertently purchasing a house that is a “lemon” while it simultaneously helps to protect the seller from any liability that might occur due to structural or mechanical problems with the home that were unknown to the seller.
With the condition of the home revealed and thoroughly reported in writing – and any recommended repairs clearly explained – the buyer and seller can complete the transaction from an informed perspective based on fairness and expertise. Any potential problems can be addressed before the sale is completed, repairs can be made as agreed upon, or repair allowances can be arranged. Keep in mind that if the house is in great shape that will also be reflected in the inspection report as further support for the seller’s point of view that the home is valuable and worthy of a good price.
So the home inspector is not a “deal buster” and the inspection process and written report is not something to be feared or dreaded. Home inspections benefit buyers and sellers alike, and without them the business of marketing and selling your home would potentially be much more stressful, complicated, contentious, and expensive.