Active Rain April 1, 2010

Home Inspectors “Bedside Manner” is Essential

I have great respect for home inspectors. They perform a crucial job in the real estate process, and most I have worked with do their work with merit. Just about every good inspector I have ever dealt with has understood two very fundamental truths:

  1. Be thorough and accurate. 
  2. Do not scare the crap out of the buyer over a minor finding. 
I recently had an alarmist experience with a home inspector from an engineering firm. It was my listing, and he arrived a half hour late. I then watched aghast as we spent an hour in the basement alone, 4 hours total, in a smaller home. The man was not in control of his own inspection. The review was punctuated by interruptions at every turn and milquetoast answers to provocative questions.  The one thing I have no patience for is unjustified alarm related to home maintenance issues. If you are going to paint a picture that we’ll need to build an ark just because of a little corrosion on an old pipe, you are a gnu. If you can’t give one decisive answer in 4 hours, you are a herd of gnus.
Some inspectors ask buyers to hold their questions, especially if they disrupt. Not our friend here. Every question was given a pause and a “possibly so” answer. No follow up, no further discussion. Huge doubt in the air, item after item. “Could this be termites? “Possibly. Could be.” This is not a very good way to handle every single question. I am the last guy to want in inspector to give a false impression of security to a buyer about a problem or potential problem. Nor do I think it wise to give false alarm or leave unneeded doubt in the air. Play it straight. 
Inspectors who allow the consumer to run the inspection, leave huge doubt in the air and give lame, incomplete answers to every question are every bit as bad as outright alarmists. This is not rocket science. If you cannot deal adequately with the public stay behind a desk. You do no one a service, agent, seller or buyer, if you can’t play it straight.