I have done posts in the past about who the deal killers in the home buying process are. Sometimes it is the home inspector, sometimes the buyer themselves, sometimes the agent, sometimes the banks—but most often it is the home itself that kills the deal and that includes the seller of that home.
1. “The house is pristine—immaculate—you won’t find anything wrong.” (OK—thanks for letting me know.)
2. “The house is brand new—-we probably don’t need an inspection but……” (OK—thanks for letting me know.)
3. “The house is the cutest thing you ever saw. It’s got a new roof, new furnace, and awesome landscaping—-oh, and did I mention the view?” (OK—thanks for letting me know.)
4. “The house belonged to an architect—–it is perfect.” (Ruh-roh—thanks for letting me know.)
5. “The buyer’s dad is a builder and didn’t find anything wrong—–so it should be a piece-of-cake inspection for you.” (Aaaarrrggh—thanks for letting me know.)
6. “The house had a Pre-listing Inspection done—-you won’t find much.” (OK—time will tell—thanks for letting me know.)
With statements like this, agents may be setting the buyer’s expectations too high. Very few inspectors are going to have their expectations raised by such statements.
Inspectors can not afford to pay any attention to the “Frosting,” “Lipstick,” and “Sweeteners” used to “sell” the home. Whether it is the fresh coat of paint, or the borderline-deceptive High-Definition images on the MLS listing.
Sometimes it is the home’s “curb appeal,” well written listing descriptions, and how nice the MLS photos look that seduce the agents and buyers. I think it comes down to education.
Frankly, unless agents have some basic training in home inspection I don’t think it is possible for them to give the inspector any kind of information that is truly useful to them.
Of course information like the exact date the furnace or roof was replaced, or when remodeling took place, or when the addition was put on the house, can be very useful.
Whether the oil tank has been decommissioned and the paperwork is in place is also useful. Information about past repairs is also useful. Of course all of this type of information must be tempered by what we actually see. All the different versions of “you won’t find anything wrong” approaches the realm of what we do being not all that necessary. While this may be just an attempt to validate their own impression of the home—or may be just making small talk—-it can be very costly to the buyer who has invested heavily in the property emotionally.
It can be very difficult for the buyer to make the necessary emotional adjustments after what the inspector finds.
It is only logical the buyer might have an expectation that what the inspector finds out about the property is in line with what the agent has so glowingly projected—or what the listing has glowingly projected. I think buyer’s do not have this expectation with the listing information however. Everyone knows the listing info is just advertising.
When the information is not consistent—-someone’s credibility is bound to suffer and the wind goes out of the buyer’s sails—and they may even cut bait and move to a better fishing hole—with a whole new fishing partner.
We want to avoid the scenario of that “brand new” 40 year roof installed on top of 3 other layers of asphalt shingles (which themselves are on top of the original wood shingles) not sounding like such a good selling point after all.
Perhaps agents should minimize their “public displays of enthusiasm.” The inspector is there to provide the kind of information that protects everyone involved in the transaction—-they really are not there to ruin anyone’s day. It can happen—but it is not the reason why we are there.
It actually does ruin my day when expectations have been placed too high and I am the one that has to bring everyone back down to earth.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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