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The Problem with Home Inspections

11 November 2013

It wasn’t that long ago that we talked about why you should never skip a home inspection when buying a home. But, just getting a home inspection is the easy part – even with the hefty expense it might cost you. The hard part is finding a home inspector that’s actually working for you, and not the real estate agent.

The balance in a home inspector’s world is doing a good job, yet not losing out on those future referrals sent to you by real estate agents. Home inspectors rely on these real estate agents to give them business, as the majority of their work comes from those agents that refer their buyers onto them. But, if they continually find things wrong with the homes they’re sent to inspect, the deals of those real estate agents can quickly fall through. So they need to walk a fine line – do their job properly and face the prospect of perhaps not having jobs in the future – or overlook certain things in the home to secure the prospect of any jobs.

It’s a problem that Bruce McClure, a home inspector in Toronto, sees too much in his career with other inspectors. And it’s one that he also says is something that’s not likely to get better any time soon, and one that homeowners can do very little about.

“People like myself gain a reputation for being deal killers because I work for my client – the homebuyer. I want to protect their best interest, which means pointing out issues and telling them what’s wrong with the house and things that may end up costing them money,” he says.

He also says that the cause of this problem might be that there are few licensing requirements, and very little oversight for the industry.

“There is no standard inspection format,” he says. “Many jurisdictions stipulate that the inspector must follow the American Society of Home Inspectors or the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors standards of practice, but do not require the inspector to be a member of either association.”

“As a result,” McClure continues, “there’s no one making sure these inspections follow standards or rules.”

So, what’s the solution for homebuyers looking to get a thorough, and honest, inspection? And not just rely on that realtor’s inspection referral with the chance that they may just go with the inspector that will close the deal quickly for them?

First, says McClure, make sure that the inspector has gone to the time and trouble to become a member of either association. Becoming a member often requires attending meetings and conferences, and sometimes even taking exams and tests that prove the inspector knows what he is doing. But what might be even more important than that, says McClure, is finding someone who’s been in the business for a long time.

“Like any business, as you get better you see things,” he says. “The more experienced inspectors out there will see the items that are important. They will see that house for what it is and that may scare a Realtor.”

It may also cause them to refuse overlooking problems just to sell a home, as they know what will happen in the future if problems go unresolved, and if homebuyers are somewhat tricked into buying a home.

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