How to Recognize a Bad Home Inspector
By Monte Mohr
After the difficult task of house hunting, you’ve selected your next home. Congratulations! And while that’s really great news, you now have a critical task before you – the home inspection. Without a home inspection, you will not know the true condition of the property you are purchasing. This can lead to some very expensive problems down the road.
Unless you work in the real estate industry, you are probably not sure how one inspector stacks up next to another. Most people defer to their real estate agent to recommend an inspector and this will usually work out just fine. But as the new homeowner, it’s important for you to recognize the signs of a substandard inspector. Below are four ways you can reduce your chances of hiring a low quality inspector.
1. Ask to See a Sample Inspection Report
Have an inspector send you a copy of a sample report and use it as a litmus test for how thorough their inspection will be. You want a detailed and comprehensive report which typically is anywhere from 20-40 pages long. If the sample report you obtain is only a handful of pages, it’s best to keep looking for another inspector. Find someone who will provide specific details and photos of the home’s problems and defects.
2. Attend the Home Inspection
If at all possible you need to be present for the entire inspection process. Be prepared to dedicate some time to this because a good inspector will take up to 3 hours (or even longer) to complete his inspection. It may be inconvenient, but mistakes and oversights are much more common when an inspector rushes through a home. Walk through the house with your inspector and have them call attention to the defects. You should expect to find some issues – no house is perfect – not even a new home, so don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way. Inquire about the severity of any issues that are discovered.
3. Ask About Re-Inspection Fees
Be up front and ask right away about an inspector’s fee policy. As mentioned previously, it is almost certain that the inspector will note some problems during his/her inspection. The problems may be minor and require nothing of the seller at all, but sometimes there are significant issues uncovered that a seller agrees to repair prior to purchase. If that’s the case, you will want the property to be re-inspected after the repairs are complete. Depending on where you live, your inspector may be willing to confirm the repairs for no additional fee. However there are some areas of the country where inspectors like to charge for their return trip. Make sure you know what to expect. Even if the inspector charges a fee for re-inspection, it’s a good idea to follow through. If you opt to take the seller at their word, and trust that the issue(s) have been fixed, you could find yourself in court after closing.
4. Look at an Inspector’s Credentials
Not all inspectors are certified, so choose one that is. A great place to look for certified inspectors is the American Society of Home Inspectors. Ask friends, family, colleagues, and/or your agent for a recommendation and then confirm that inspector's qualifications. And last, but certainly not least, ask an inspector about their Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance. Basically speaking, E&O insurance is there to protect you. It is where you would file a claim to regain expenses incurred as the result of a mistake your inspector made during the inspection. Be aware of the limitations of their E&O policy; sometimes coverage is limited to the cost of the inspection fee. A qualified inspector should not have any claims made against their E&O policy.
Real estate broker Monte Mohr has sold over 2,000 homes in the last 25 years, giving him a unique perspective on the real estate trends in Nashville, Tenn. He is a regular contributor of real estate advice to Nashville’s NBC affiliate station, WSMV Channel 4. To learn more about Monte Mohr and his real estate advice, visit tennesseedreamhomes.com.
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