A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

A Compliment to an Inspector or Should I Have A Monster Mask On

I was amazed when a Realtor complimented me on not scaring the clients. She was very generous with her praise, which a Realtor does not always give to an inspector, since we can ruin their sale. I began to wonder though, should I take a more grave air when presenting my report?

I should not claim to be amazed, that was just dramatic effect. Realtors and inspectors do share a love/hate type of relationship, since we have different duties in the sale. A Realtor is dealing with your emotional part of the sale, while an inspector is dealing with your rational side during a sale. This statement might not be entirely true, but the basis is correct. When buying a home, you look for your dream home, or a reasonable stand in given finances and the reality of how builders constructed a home. It is funny, but the major purchases of our life, home and car, will be dictated by our heart. A good Realtor attempts to bridge the gap between your dream or desire with what is plausible, and they deal well with that emotional side. My hat is off to them in this regard, since I cannot do that.

Then I come in to ruin the fantasy. An inspector is there to find the problems. I do not know of a house (even newly built) that does not have an area that I will mark as in need of repair. Bummer, if it really was your dream home. Here is the thing though, I need to mark in need of repair according to Texas code for some things that are minor repairs. Do not misunderstand me. Each item that I am required to mark as in need of repair is or can be a serious issue. However, a $2 part might fix it in some cases.

I am rather strict when inspecting a house. I have had homeowners become angered over my comments. I know that they could be clients though, so I try to be diplomatic. I am strict because I feel that you should know everything that I find. I do not feel that I should scare you with this information. For one client, no drainstops in a tub will be no big deal, whereas another client might find that to be the last straw. If I did not mark the missing items down, how would you take a bath after moving into the house? This is a minor item, but according to the rules for a report, I need to mark this down. There are inspectors who are in awe of their own expertise, so they want you to be impressed with their findings. Hence they like to scare. I take the term “professional” seriously, and my license states that I am a professional real estate inspector. The code admonishes me to behave in a professional manner. Scaring someone over a home is not a professional means of presenting a report.

I guess that I received the compliment, since many inspectors feel that there work needs to be given its due respect, but do not behave as they should. I want my work to be given its due attention instead. Buying a home is emotional, and it should be. You want some place where you want to be. I want you to realize that there may be some items to take into consideration, and to realize how you will deal with them, before you move into your home. By explaining why an issue is important, and giving a solution to the finding, I hope to have your attention. This should not be a scary process.

In the end, I am glad for receiving this compliment. I know that I am doing well. There is a problem though, if your inspector is only trying to scare you. Ask them why something matters, and how it can be repaired to force them to stay out of the fear me I am knowledgeable mode. Most inspector after all are trying to find a way to communicate to you the importance of their investigation. They might not know what they have done, when they did scare you. I am leaving the mask at home for my next report presentation.


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