The Underlying Dynamic of the Home Inspection: Liability Hand-off from Client to Inspector and Back Again.

Home Inspection Hand off

Many buyers and even some realtors don’t understand the true nature of a properly performed home inspection. When a home buyer has an offer accepted on a property and engages the services of a home inspector (hopefully after doing extensive research and comparing inspector backgrounds, inspection reports, online reviews, etc.) they are placing a significant burden upon that home inspector. That burden or expectation is that the inspector will find all significant defects in the subject property and report upon them in a clear and useful manner. What the home buyer may not understand, however, is that upon completion of the inspection report the inspector is handing that burden back to the homebuyer. In other words, by ferreting out the conditions and defects in the property and providing the buyer with a clearly worded report, the inspector gives the liability back to the homeowner to read the report, call back with any questions, and follow up on recommendations contained within the report.
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Risk Reversal in Real Estate Inspections: Putting the Responsibility Back on the Seller

moisture intrusion

So you found the perfect home and your offer has been accepted. Congratulations…..now it’s crunch time. In the typical Chicago real estate transaction you, as the buyer, have 5 days during which your attorney will review your contract and your inspector will evaluate the condition of the property. In a competitive and active market, you don’t have much time to waste. You’ve gotten referrals from your realtor, closing attorney, lender, Yelp, Angie’s List, neighbors, friends and co-workers, and you’ve found just the inspector for the job….you hope.  You set the appointment and the inspector sends you the Inspection Agreement. Reading through the agreement, or contract for services, you may be struck by the apparently one-sided nature of the risk placement…it’s all on you!

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What Do You Expect Out of an Inspection?

After performing fee based inspections full time for the past 6+ years I find myself asking a repeated question–am I giving clients what they need to make the best decision?  My immediate answer is that I’m pretty damn close.  Why not 100% you might say?  I’ll tell you why….no inspector can deliver the perfect product to every client because every client’s needs are slightly different than the last.  A first time homebuyer will want to know as much as they can because they’re a bit nervous, excited and typically don’t have the building knowledge to know what is minor and what is major in terms of defects.  Veteran homeowners, on the other hand, may tell us to not worry about the little things and really focus on X, Y or Z.  That’s understandable and often times expected.  So what can we do as inspectors to fulfill these needs?  Anything and everything we can to deliver as much information about the property we’re inspecting so that we can allow our clients to make the best decision possible with the best information.

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