There has been many discussions on the Internet about the duties of the home inspectors, the real estate agents, and how important it is for each to not do the other’s job. There have even been discussions about the liability involved when either one crosses the line drawn in the sand.
There is one issue that occasionally comes up involving the inspection report that to me crosses this line—-where the real estate agent is crossing over into the inspector’s realm.
My beef involves “rewriting,” or “reinterpreting” the inspector’s written recommendations.
I have seen the Report Summary (or portions thereof) rewritten and used in negotiating the deal. This rewritten list is then given to whoever is called to do the repairs. Sometimes I am called to re-inspect those repairs. When this happens the “adjusted” summary is barely recognizable from what I originally wrote and usually repairs are NOT satisfactory because the “interpretation” of what I have called out is so different from my original report.
When this happens I then have to call for proper repairs again—-and sometimes get called for a second re-inspect. Who pays for this second re-inspection, and why should it be either the seller or the buyer?
It would seem that there would be incredible liability for changing even one word of what the inspector has written. If the deal went south and lawyers got involved, I would have to think that the inspector would just be able to say, “Well that isn’t what I wrote.”
Why would any agent do this—-risk this?
One of the things quite commonly edited-out is who I have recommended to do the repairs. Now, let me first say that I am very careful about whom I recommend to do repairs and do my best to leave as much leeway as possible so as to not create scenarios that would make the process difficult for anyone. For example, some issues, I could care less who makes the repairs—-as long as they are done “properly” and by “qualified” persons. Sometimes I specify that the work be done by a Licensed XYZ—-if I want to improve the likelihood that it will be done properly—-not a guarantee—just raise the odds.
Some things, such as electrical repairs, are generally required to be done by a Licensed Electrical Contractor and require permits. (Sometimes homeowners can do the work if they draw the permits and get the work inspected. This would not likely be applicable in relation to repairs involved with a real estate transaction because these permits are issued under the assumption that the owner is going to live in the home for two years before they can sell the home—-at least in Seattle—I have often wondered how they police this.)
Sometimes what I have written is “rewritten” to ask for repairs to be made by a “qualified repair person”—–even electrical issues. Why would I, when called back to do a re-inspection of electrical repairs, not be expected to see the permit and the work order with the name of the licensed electrical contractor? (Both of which would be required of a “qualified repair person.”)
Why not leave the recommendation as written?
Of course another reason the inspectors recommendations get rewritten is because the inspector can’t write—-and that is an issue that can only be addressed by better education of inspectors and specific training in Inspection Report writing.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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