Who benefits from short inspection contingency periods?

I know I may be stepping into quick-sand with this question, but I am serious. All too often I see buyers forced to use inspectors they do not want to use, or in other ways not be able to do their due diligence because of very short of contingency periods.

I am busy enough that if the inspection contingency period is less than ten days, the chance of booking me goes way down. Now I typically have a list of other inspectors to help the buyer out when this occurs but they too are typically busy as well. What the client ends of with is an inspector capable of doing 3 and 4 inspections a day with the resultant mediocre report if not a mediocre inspection itself.

I am jealous of other parts of the country where I hear 10 and 12 day contingency periods are the norm while here 5 and 7 days is much more common.

It seems to me that in a rush to get the deal done, the only persons that benefit from this arrangement are the seller and the seller’s agent.

I know for a fact that many buyers feel there is considerable pressure to keep the ball rolling along, non-stop—at a pace that does not allow for second thoughts.

This freneticism is typically not present in commercial inspections–with 30 day contingency periods being common. Why the difference in Residential real estate sales? While I do not advocate 30 day contingency periods, a guaranteed 15 days sure would take the pressure off all parties and allow for a buyer’s due diligence.

Some might argue that I only care about this because I don’t want to lose the inspections—but the irony is that I am booked most of the time anyway, but it would allow for more clients who really want to book me a “chance” of getting me and would allow me to even-out my scheduling with far less cancellations.

Because of these short contingency periods, it is not uncommon for buyers or agents, who really want to use me, to call and “pencil me in” for a time slot in an “anticipated contingency window” only to have the deal not come together and leave me with time to blog–or an unneeded day off.

The real kicker is that the clients that wanted to use me, but whom I had to tell I was potentially booked, were also not best served.

Again it is business models that favor quick inspections with mediocre reports that are favored in this scenario. Neither of which benefits the consumer.

Short inspection contingency periods also affect, well inspections, septic system inspections, sewer scoping and even appraisals—let alone further evaluations by the professional trades that may be necessary.

Again, who really benefits from short contingency periods?


By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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