Buyer afraid to trust agent's home inspector

Posted1/16/2022 6:00 AM

Q: My real estate agent advised me to hire a particular home inspector, but I'm suspicious. The source of my concern is a magazine article that encouraged homebuyers not to trust their agent's recommendation and to select their own home inspector. The article implied that agents prefer home inspectors who minimize property defects, working hand in hand with agents to help close their deals. What is your stand on this touchy subject?

A: Unsavory alliances can be found in all areas of commerce and human activity, including the sale and representation of real estate. Accordingly, the old "buyer beware" principle still applies, and a healthy measure of caution is always advisable in business, including the selection of home inspectors.


However, negative generalizations about real estate agents unduly discredit those who conduct business with honorable, fair-minded intent. That being said, how, then, should you go about choosing a home inspector?

The selection of an inspector is a critical decision that can lead to an informed purchase or the displeasure of costly repairs once you own the property. Therefore, the choice calls for your participation. As to your question of whether to trust your agent's recommendation, there are four possible answers:

• You may have an excellent agent, one whose concern for your financial interests is uppermost, whose choice of a home inspector reflects that level of professional integrity. If such is the case, the home inspector your agent recommends is probably among the most qualified professionals available.

• You may have an ethically challenged agent, one whose desire for a commission check obscures all other professional considerations. His or her opinion of the best home inspectors is embodied in the term "deal killer." In that case, the home inspector being recommended could be among the least thorough, least experienced and least qualified in the area.

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• You may have an honest agent, operating with the best of intentions, but with a limited understanding of the wide-ranging levels of quality, competence and experience among the home inspectors in your area. In that case, the home inspector could be among the best, the worst or somewhere in between, according to which inspectors your agent happens to know.

• You may have a cautious agent, one who offers you a list of local home inspectors and prefers the final choice be yours, thereby avoiding unnecessary liability. Among these agents will be some who offer a list of the most qualified inspectors, some whose list is a menu of mediocrity, or some who don't really know the difference.

Your task is to consider all of the available inspectors, their relative professional qualifications, their comparative credentials, their affiliations with recognized professional associations, and especially their number of years in the home inspection business. Home inspectors are not created equal. Choosing a good one can save you thousands of dollars and years of regret. Your agent can suggest possible choices, but the final selection should be your own.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

© 2022, Action Coast Publishing

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