Q. We've just made an offer on a house, and our agent gave us a list of home inspectors. Two of the inspectors that we called sound knowledgeable, but they prefer to do the inspection alone and then email the report to us. We want to attend the inspection, but they say this is not necessary. Do you think it's important for us to be at the inspection or simply to receive the report afterward?
A. Your home inspection is your exclusive event. It is strictly for your benefit, and your inspector should roll out the welcome mat. Home inspectors who are truly professional recognize the importance of client participation and actively invite homebuyers to their inspection. Unfortunately, some inspectors prefer to work alone and may discourage your attendance. These inspectors should not be on your list of prospects.
Inspectors who sidestep their clients by leaving them out of the inspection process fall into three categories:
Ÿ Some lack the interactive people skills that home inspectors need. They prefer to email the inspection report, with no verbal explanation of any kind.
Ÿ Some work with an eye on the clock. Having buyers on site takes time and can mean one less job and one less inspection fee in the day's schedule.
Ÿ Some inspectors are more interested in the needs of real estate agents than of buyers. They provide whitewashed reports to ensure future referrals. (This, of course, is a highly provocative allegation and, fortunately, applies to a very small minority of home inspectors and agents.)
Home inspectors should see themselves as personal consultants, not as hired technicians. Inspectors who are not willing to consult should find another profession, and homebuyers looking for a quality inspection should find an inspector who welcomes them to the process.
Q. I bought a home four months ago. The seller was an elderly lady, living in a nursing home and unable to provide disclosure. Her daughter, who was the listing agent, handled numerous repairs, including replacement of the carpet. Recently, I hired a contractor to install insulation under the floor, and he discovered that a large portion of the subfloor was rotted. He said there was no way that the carpet layer could have missed this and that he must have reported the problem to the agent. Is this something the agent should have disclosed to me?
A. If the agent was aware of the problem, she should have disclosed it. If your contractor is right and the rotted wood was seen by the carpet layer, then someone apparently has some explaining to do. However, it is possible that the wood rot is visible below the building but not under the carpet. The only way to know for sure is to lift the carpet and find the answer.
You should ask the real estate agent and the carpet layer to meet at your home to see what should have been disclosed.
Ÿ To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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