The blame game doesn’t seem to end after kindergarten. Humans by nature look for ways to shift blame when something runs afoul of plans. In the real estate industry, a certified home inspector sometimes takes on more than their fair share.
Your job is to tell the unvarnished truth about the condition of a house. But because the truth isn’t always pleasant, you might find yourself on the receiving end of disgruntled sellers, grumpy buyers and less-than-thrilled real estate agents. The good news is that you’ve also got an opportunity to shine. When you educate the public about home inspecting, fewer rumors and less misinformation will have a chance to take hold.
Why Does Everyone Want to Kill the Messenger?
It’s a tale that’s almost as old as time. Instead of focusing on a problem, people tend to resent the person who made them aware of it. Carl Jung talked about it at length. It’s a common, if unhealthy, human reaction that avoids facing reality by making someone else responsible for our disappointments and misfortunes.
Home inspectors have one job, and that’s to inform customers about the condition of a house. That’s what they’re paid to do. But when the results aren’t glowing, someone, guaranteed, won’t be happy about it.
Oftentimes, the grumpiest person will be the seller. Agents who stand to lose a commission won’t be thrilled, either. If the buyer changes their mind about following through with the purchase contract, all eyes will be on the inspector. After all, that’s who delivered the news that changed the buyer’s mind. That’s one reason why it’s so important to resist any urges to make judgment calls about the value of a home. Think like Dragnet, give them just the facts.
Real Estate Commentators Sometimes Do More Harm Than Good
Blog posts about bad home inspection results and buyer warnings are so common, they’re about a dime a dozen. But if you look closely, you might find that a lot of them weren’t actually written by real estate professionals. Dangerous things happen when misinformation is spun from what looks authentic but isn’t a reliable source.
An experienced real estate agent knows in their heart of hearts that even when the news is bad, the truth never is. It might cost a sale today. But in the long run, supporting the truth as well as a customer’s decision to keep looking means the agent takes professional ethics seriously.
Unfortunately for home buyers, so many articles and blog posts give misinformation about home inspectors and inspections and present it all as facts wrapped in a tidy bow. Here are some of the more common fallacies:
- An inspector without a license isn’t a good inspector. In reality, many states—almost half—don’t offer licensing.
- You don’t need an inspector because listing agents disclose everything. And if you believe that, they probably also have some oceanfront property in Utah for sale.
- Home inspectors pad the report with fake defects to get repair business. Nope. Most inspectors wouldn’t take on a repair job if their life depended on it. That flies in the face of every reputable ethics code in the industry.
- There’s no continuity in the industry so you never know what you’ll get. Nope again. Although inspectors vary, every major association and most state licensing bodies have home inspection standards that everyone is obliged to learn and use.
- Inspectors don’t know anything about a given home system. Wrong. While anyone can become a home inspector whether or not they were once a contractor, most inspectors are knowledgeable and have a better understanding of home systems than agents and buyers.
- Inspectors who miss any defect have failed their client. This is one of the most disturbing fallacies of all. Home inspectors don’t cut holes through walls, tear off shingles, pull up carpet or peel off siding. In the absence of X-ray vision, some hidden defects will not be discovered but that doesn’t mean the inspector didn’t do a thorough job.
Now for the good news. Because home inspectors take some or all of the blame when inspections aren’t perfect, they’re also the ideal change makers. More inspectors are blogging now and getting active on social media. That helps demystify the industry and gives inspectors a voice in their own reputation. When you can go directly to the people, you have a say in the message.
New and seasoned home inspectors have an opportunity now that’s probably better than any before. Home inspections are becoming a more common part of the real estate industry. Fewer inspectors work alone, inviting customers along instead. And more inspectors are taking an active role in promoting excellence. You can, too, once you complete your education and earn your certification.
ICA School wants you to be the best inspector that you can be. We arm you with knowledge and connect you with technology. Enroll now and you could become another ambassador for the home inspection industry.