By the time a home inspection happens, buyers are typically either in love with the property or at least hoping it will pass muster. The realities of what they’re about to buy can come crashing down hard if they’re not prepared for common issues that don’t necessarily mean the house is a money pit.
No one wants to be the harbinger of bad news, and no inspector wants to be known as a “deal killer.” That’s why helping clients understand the scope and limitations of your job can better inform them about the investment they’re about to make.
Here are 3 points that can clarify the home inspection process, manage client expectations and help them realize the importance of the report that they just purchased:
#1: All Homes Have Problems
The existence of a defect doesn’t necessarily spell doom, but some clients will waver as if the report is an outline of all of the home’s costly and dangerous failures. It’s just a report, and the report is just the facts as you find them.
Home inspection clients need to know that an inspection report will likely reveal at least a few defects. Real Simple lists several flaws, such as nasty carpet and outdated appliances, that turn buyers off when maybe they shouldn’t. Even a brand new house where the paint is barely dry will almost invariably have a problem or two, and that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the investment.
#2: Most Problems are Fixable
Unless the house is falling down around your ears, most defects are repairable. There are notable exceptions, of course. But a bad roof, broken windows, malfunctioning HVAC unit, and rickety staircase handrail are all within the repair or replacement scope of a professional contractor.
The question usually isn’t whether it’s possible to fix the defect, but whether fixing it is worth the time, money and effort. Some defects are bargaining chips that the buyer could use to secure a better deal, but there’s no way for the inspector to have that information. Bargaining and repairs are discussions for the buyer to take elsewhere.
#3: There is No Magic 8-Ball
“Outlook Not Good” isn’t an option in home inspecting, because inspectors, at least most inspectors, can’t predict the future. Trying to can land you in a lot of hot water, so Realtor.com® says most inspectors just won’t do it. Although clients might expect and ask for predictions, such as how long the roof will hold up or when the HVAC unit will finally give out.
A roof that looks perfect could spring a leak tomorrow. And a house that’s teetering on a cracked foundation might hold steady for 100 more years. There’s no way to know for sure. That said, some defects really are red flags. While you still can’t predict, you can strongly advise them to seek the counsel of a professional contractor for further analysis and repair options.
Most home buyers only deal with inspectors a few times in their lives. And because each home purchase is a stressful and busy time, they might not remember from one to the next what the inspection experience was like.
You can help them get a better understanding of what you do, which goes a long way toward managing expectations and understanding their inspection report. It’s theirs, after all, and they should know its value in the home buying process.
Still just thinking about enrolling with ICA School’s home inspecting education program? Why not get a free demo and see the program in action?