Over the next few minutes you will learn about the inner workings of the home inspection industry including:
- What the Home Inspection process is supposed to uncover.
- How inspectors think and why they must report the way they do.
- Understand why their findings will automatically cost you a lot more money the instant they write them down.
- A simple but very dangerous secret. How you utilize this piece of information will be up to you. I trust your good conscious to be your guide on this one.
- Why potential buyers freak out, abandon their deposits and run for the hills in terror, often for the wrong reasons.
- Why you want to erase the note before it even gets written.
- How to morally and ethically influence a Home Inspector to write a report in your favor, even if you aren’t the client who is paying them. This technique gets them every time, I don’t care who the inspector is. You don’t even have to be present for it to work!
- Finally, how to use my experience and apply it so you can get a bigger check at the close of escrow or when you flip that REO.
Let’s get to it.
First, I will be using the terms “Notes”, “Issues” and “Findings” throughout this report. These terms each refer to the same thing. They are aspects of the property that are potential hazards, flaws, defects or any condition that significantly affects the value, desirability, habitability, or safety of the dwelling.
What Home Inspectors Are Supposed To Report On
“Potential hazards, flaws, defects or any condition that significantly affects the value, desirability, habitability, or safety of the dwelling.”
These are what a responsible Home Inspector is obligated to look for and report on as per the Business and Professions Code in my State.
Defining the term “Home Inspection”
An inspection is essentially a “visual snapshot” of a home’s condition as it exists at the time of the inspection, and that condition is described in a report of some type. A comprehensive written report is now the most common format.
An inspection consists of a non-invasive physical examination of a home’s systems, structures and components intended to identify material defects that exist at the time of the inspection. The heating and cooling equipment is activated along with operating plumbing fixtures, testing accessible electrical outlets and fixtures, and operating a representative sampling of doors and windows. A visual inspection of the roof, crawl spaces, walls and drainage adjacent to the home are included. Some inspectors may include exterior fencing and other additional details about the lot itself.
A home inspection is NOT any of the following:
- not a code inspection,
- not an FHA/VA inspection
- not an appraisal,
- not a pest control certification,
- not a warranty and not an insurance policy.
About Home Inspectors
Home Inspectors are obviously the individuals who conduct these inspections. These individuals come from a variety of back rounds and their education may have come from:
- private training courses,
- public vocational schooling,
- a variety educational packages that include reading and/or video materials,
- they may have learned on-the-job from an experienced inspector and
- they may have previous construction or municipal inspection experience.
Their reports may be delivered in a variety of formats, including simple checklists, checklists with some narrative written information, comprehensive written reports with or without photos or full blown booklets or binders with several pages of detail, photos, comments about the property and educational information related to the care and maintenance of the home.
The reports may be generated from computer software, typed on blank paper or written by hand. I understand some inspectors only give a verbal report. I find that difficult to comprehend.
The inspector may be required to have a state license. Most adhere to a State “Business and Professions” enforcement code. They may belong to a regional, national or an Internet based organization of home inspectors. They may have a credential, be certified, licensed or they may be freelancing.
Some are insured with liability, workman’s comp, errors and omissions or a combination of policies. Some are “self-insured” which means either they have so much money that they don’t need insurance or they are taking a risk by not purchasing it.
They may have been referred by a Realtor or you may have found them on you own. Speaking of Realtors, here is a side note…
Realtor’s who work primarily with buyers have to consider a couple of things when it comes to the inspections:
- Will they be able to hammer the seller on price as a result of a thorough inspection, or,
- Will they have to go out and find their client another property to write a new contract on?
Neither of these options is necessarily good for the seller.
Contrary to popular belief, if a Realtor likes a particular inspector, it is usually because the inspector does a great job for the client. If you do not trust your Realtor to provide you with good information and good people to work with you may have bigger problems. Find another agent or consider your own motivations and intentions.
It is important for you to understand that Home Inspectors are a unique and varied group of people, regardless if they belong to an organization, regardless if they use the same report generating software and regardless if they were trained by the very same teacher.
If you were to do some extensive searching, it would probably be difficult to find any two reports that were the same, in both style and content.
These several factors can be so varied because the statements about the condition of the building are merely the “opinion” of the inspector, based on his or her experience and the standards of practice they follow and yes, this is the case even though they use building codes as a reference. Even building codes are subject to interpretation.
There are several other factors and reference materials the inspector has to take into consideration when generating a proper home inspection report. Those other considerations are outside the scope of this project and have little to do with your getting a bigger check at the close. Suffice it to say, the inspector’s work merely uses the building codes as one source of information.
The point is these folks can be different in many ways but, the single factor that makes them the same is the same factor that yanks the hard cash out of a seller’s pocket.
It is the way the report describes the issues and findings!
Consider this interesting, little known tidbit:
Although very important, how much a person knows about construction or the variety of systems in a building has little to do with continued success as a professional home inspector.
The most difficult aspect of a Home Inspector’s job is not necessarily detecting issues with your property, but reporting the issues in the proper verbiage.
Here is where we begin to understand how these inspection reports affect the sale of a property.
How inspectors think and why they must write the report the way they do.
I’ll give you a hint. It’s about the liability.
Here are two terms that I want you to keep in mind as we go forward: “Specifically vague” and “expert generalist.”
The inspector has to think in very specific concepts but write in very vague terms. The inspector is an Expert Generalist about the many different systems within a building, but has to remain very generic in the written description of the findings.
When I write reports, if I use any terms or language that might indicate I was representing myself as an expert in any specific field or trade, I could get in trouble. If I wrote too much, or wrote it wrong, I ran the risk of crossing over the line of the definition of a home inspector.
Here’s an example of what I am suggesting.
“The furnace did not appear to provide adequate air flow to the upper floor.”
would be an ok statement. However, if I wrote:
“The furnace did not appear to provide adequate air flow to the upper floor and may be undersized for the square footage of this building.”
I have crossed the line.
Maybe I used to be an HVAC contractor and I know for a fact that the furnace is undersized because my 30 years experience tells me it is, but as a Home Inspector, I cannot say it is. (HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning).
Either description could be describing the same condition, but the second one would get me into trouble. It’s that “undersized for the square footage” comment.
Writing the report findings improperly could have cost me referrals or got me stuck in court with a law suite. You can bet I was not about to jeopardize my good name and lively hood with that mistake. So rather than say what I know, I write only what I see.
Remember, it’s a visual inspection. This is critical to remember and you will understand why in a few moments.
Regarding this furnace issue I would write the complete note as follows:
“Note: The furnace did not appear to provide adequate air flow to the upper floor. Recommend having a licensed HVAC Contractor inspect for further evaluation.”
Notice I wrote “Recommend having a licensed HVAC Contractor inspect for further evaluation.”
Here’s where you start giving up your profits and your equity turns to dust.
Not only do you have a condition that might cost you money to repair, but the inspector has deferred to a Licensed Contractor.
The home inspector has to defer to the highest authority. The Licensed Contractor must be consulted for the additional information requested in the report and to not follow the recommendation of the inspection report would be to nullify its worth.
Also, all recommended work is to be completed by licensed contractors and not unlicensed handyman or even the homeowner themselves. In every home inspection association I am aware of the home inspector is not allowed to perform the repairs nor suggest the possible costs for those repairs. Plus, any labor and material for repairs that add up to more than $500 is supposed to be done by a licensed contractor. That’s the law here in California.
Structural engineers, soil engineers, termite inspectors, roofers, appliance technicians, pest abatement professionals, electricians and plumbers are just some of the people who may end up walking around in your home after the home inspector is finished.
Why do the home inspectors defer? Liability. Part of remaining successful is to reduce liability. They do this by being “specifically vague” as “expert generalists.” General practitioners of all industries defer to the specialists.
Once that report note is written, the owner is essentially obligated to pay the highest price for repairs and materials.
Not only that but they are faced with pending contingencies, closing deadlines and skeptical buyers.
Time becomes the enemy. There is no time to shop for the best deal on materials, collect competitive bids, or even find a qualified person to do the repairs who, by the way, may not necessarily be a licensed contractor.
If the inspection report was ordered by the buyer, you can be sure they are going to want the most expensive solution. They want it all and they want you to pay for it. In this market, you are probably going to have to cave in to their demands.
Of course, you could just say no to the request for repairs, and hope they don’t call your bluff. I suppose it depends on your motivation to sell. The art of negotiations is not the subject matter of this report, but you can be sure it is at the heart of your real estate transaction.
Remember the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
There is a sort of creed inspectors are taught to follow.
“Detect it, describe it, defer it.”
These simple little words are what end up costing you, the property owner the big bucks. The purpose of these articles is to eliminate the “Detect it” part and save you money. It’s that simple.
Do you recall when I said it was critical to remember that home inspections are visual inspections?
Here is a simple but dangerous secret:
If the inspector cannot see it, the inspector cannot write about it.
There are two distinct messages here. One is basic common sense, the other is dangerous.
- If there is no issue to report because you saw it first and fixed it, there is nothing for the inspector to detect and write about.
- It you HIDE a problem because you saw it first, and try to deceive the buyers, the inspectors and the agents, you’re treading on very shaky ground my friend. DON’T DO IT!!
Disclosure is the name of the game. DO NOT TRY AND CHEAT. The cost of simple repairs are far less than you might imagine, whereas the mental burden of trying to fool someone is just not worth it and the punishment could be very expensive. Besides, I am going to teach you how to use the reverse effect of this same secret to morally and ethically influence the inspector to write the report in your favor. More on that later.
Your creed will be: “Detect it, get it fixed for less, forget about it.”
Why buyers freak out, abandon their deposits and run for the hills.
A reason buyers cancel their escrows after reading an inspection report is usually because of what they perceived the report was telling them.
How did that car commercial state it; “Perception is not always reality.”
Perception may not be reality, but if the home inspection report disturbs the buyer, the reality will be a lost sale.
Let me ask you a question.
Would you rather see a report with three issues on it about your property, or a report with thirty or forty issues?
Even if the one of the three issues reported said the foundation was cracked?
Even with a cracked foundation, three notes would be far easier to mentally deal with than thirty of forty, wouldn’t you agree?
By the way, thirty or forty notes are an average. You may not believe it now, but once you start working with the information in these articles you will quickly understand how thirty notes on an inspection report can actually be a low average.
People have no idea how much a home inspection report can screw up their plans and dreams. I am really trying to impress upon you how important this is and how simple it will be to correct as much as you can before the home inspector arrives.
Let’s face it, selling a home can be an emotional nightmare, and buying one is too.
Depending on the report style and thoroughness of the inspector, a used home may have dozens of notes about its condition. These notes may include burned out light bulbs, windows that stick, door locks that don’t lock, a plugged furnace filter and so forth.
The notes recorded in the report create a “Mental Weight” in the buyers mind. The more loaded the report, the heavier that weight.
Some of the notes themselves can be petty and almost insignificant but the mental weight of a note laden report will create doubt in your buyer’s mind.
Once the belief that the home is broken or too far gone begins to creep in, you’re done. It doesn’t matter that 95% of the findings may be related to simple maintenance issues that are easily cleaned up. Only computer software makes ‘”undo” an easy task. The human mind is not so easily switched.
The other thing to consider is that the buyer may already be feeling ‘buyer’s remorse” and will use any excuse to bail out of the deal.
Believe me it happens. I know because canceled escrows got to be more common than we care to admit when the sellers market tanked in 2005. And you wouldn’t believe how many times my report was accused of wrecking a deal even when the buyer had already decided to pull out.
Have I mentioned that the “mental weight” of a report is actually one of the few things a seller has the most control over and reversing that aspect is probably the easiest part of selling a property
To not make an effort to eliminate the bulk of the notes likely to show up in any home inspection report is crazy.
The fact that most sellers as well as real estate professionals have been uninformed on how to do that is an absolute shame. It should be obvious by now why your goal will be to eliminate notes and findings before the inspector arrives at your property.
These articles will take those deal killing, escrow crashing, buyer freaking problems and make them go away.
How to morally and ethically influence a Home Inspector to write a report that favors the home seller.
This is a powerful part of this program. This piece of knowledge will probably have the single greatest impact on anything you do going forward. It is the true foundation of this project and is so easily implemented it just makes me smile.
In fact, it will make any home inspector smile, and when YOU know how to do THAT, you’ve got the power to win the game.
Let’s go over a few points and build the suspense a little more.
Professional Home Inspectors are a varied and independent group of folks who have a really tough job.
They have a high ethical standard to follow.
Their work is technical and complex.
They must have a broad base of understanding in a variety of fields.
They are usually self employed and almost always work alone.
They have to be able to write effectively, communicate clearly and market themselves to the community.
They have been and are still called “Deal Killers” by certain persons in the real estate industry and yet they press on.
Why? Because all the Home Inspectors I have ever met really liked their work.
Do you know what makes a home inspector really happy?
Inspecting a home that looks like it was prepared for inspection by another home inspector. This is the basis of the concept where you can influence that final report.
Let me explain further.
Nearly all home inspectors deliver a computer generated report. The software packages they use are capable of building vast libraries of information they often have to write over and over again.
These libraries are essentially digital copies of the same notes that come up day in and day out, month after month, year after year. Using these libraries reduces the keystrokes and typing needed to write the report.
After several thousand inspections, we begin to look in the same areas of the property because the same issues show up all the time. This is the basis of the statement:
“I can’t tell you how many times we inspectors commented on how easy it would have been to correct so many of the findings.”
We know this because we see the same things over and over again. Simple, stupid stuff. Stuff that makes our reports “Mentally Heavy.” You already know the consequences of that.
Do you remember the dangerous secret I shared with you?
“If the inspector cannot see it, the inspector cannot write about it.”
Here is the reverse effect of that statement.
What an inspector DOESN’T see can have a greater impact on the final report than what the inspector does see.
Inspectors are human beings who can be influenced like anyone else.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
When I came across a home where those redundant, common issues had evidently been repaired, I would think to myself, does Home Inspector live here?
I’m not sure how to explain this but the more I saw nothing wrong, the better I felt.
Does that make sense?
A clean report makes home inspectors happy you know. Happy sellers, happy buyers and happy referring agents can mean more work in the future. When you really like your work, you really like knowing more will be coming in.
The deal is this: if you have prepared your home for the inspector by knowing what they are looking for, by helping them easily gather the information, by having eliminated the silly and redundant notes they see over and over again and can cause them to think…
“Does a Home Inspector live here?”
Plus, your selling a really nice house and that should make you feel good too.
I hope these ideas have helped you realize you can actually make a difference in your real estate transaction and has had an impact on your thinking.
Additional information on this subject is extensively covered on our website and in this article directory.