Inspection Woes: How to Help Your Client Understand What Really Matters

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The home inspection report can be a struggle point for prospective homebuyers—but it doesn’t have to be.

Tara Braas Passini, an experienced agent with Coldwell Banker United who also teaches the principles of real estate at Central Texas College, offers insights into how to calm client concerns about the often-misconstrued inspection report.

Encourage clients not to be alarmed by the number of items on the report

Long inspection reports can concern homebuyers—especially those with little experience. To help them understand the nature of the report, which is a comprehensive list of all the home’s issues or irregularities, start by letting them know that many of the items identified could be small or insignificant issues. Conscientious inspectors include them to be thorough because that’s their job.

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Reinforce that not everything needs to get fixed

“Nearly everything you’ll find on an inspection report can be repaired,” says Passini, “but that doesn’t mean they all should be.”

Recommend your clients be reasonable with their repair requests. Market conditions will indicate how much leverage a buyer or seller has, but buyers who demand that the seller fixes every little thing on an inspection report can come off as unreasonable.

Keeping the repair requests modest can often satisfy both the buyer and the seller.

“You may have an amendment request to replace an entire window, but could you replace just the glass to fix the problem at a lower cost?” asks Passini.

When your clients insist on a repair, the adjunct professor says to “investigate the middle ground to determine if there’s a less-extreme solution with a price tag both parties can agree to.”

Communicate with the inspector

“I highly encourage buyers to meet the inspector at the property, if they can,” says Passini.

That meeting can help your clients understand the items on the report and make it easier for them to distinguish between major and minor issues. Home inspectors also often have the expertise to explain to buyers the extent of certain repairs and advise on how to maintain different parts of the home once it’s theirs.

Buyers who can’t meet the inspector on site should make arrangements to communicate soon after receipt of the report to address any concerns or questions that come up.

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Keep within your range of expertise

If you’re not an inspector, avoid giving advice like one.

“It can be instructive for a buyer to hear about your experiences, but present those as opinions rather than expert counsel,” says Passini.

Doing so helps your client understand your frame of reference and can keep you out of hot water legally since you could be held liable for dispensing advice on matters that are beyond your realm of expertise.

Consider calling in another expert

The inspector’s report does not have to be the final word on a deficiency. Inspectors know a great deal about homes, but some may lack specialized know-how in certain areas.

If your client wants a second opinion, suggest that they directly engage a roofer, plumber, electrician or any other experts the situation requires. In some instances, the buyer could incur an extra cost for taking a closer look at an issue, but the specialist could lend crucial reassurance about a questionable aspect of a home.

Home buying clients will sometimes get tripped up over the inspection report—it can be a tricky part of the process. Employ the above strategies to increase your chances for a smooth transaction.

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