It’s absolutely no secret that there is a myriad of unexpected things that can go wrong in a real estate transaction these days. It’s just the unexpected surprises that catch everyone off guard.
The transaction terrorist in today’s episode is the home inspector. Not just any home inspector, the worst one on the planet. He’s out there roaming around, giving the gift of less than mediocre home inspections to consumers in a neighborhood near you and giving good home inspectors a bad reputation.
My first experience with the dude from Super Happy Fun Slide Home Inspections came a few years ago when a consumer I was working with purchased a lovely home and chose him for an inspector. He wasn’t on my list of recommendations but my buyers managed to find him on Google. I didn’t know him from a lamp post and certainly hadn’t seen him at any local functions that would indicate that he’d been involved in the community, a member of the chamber or an affiliate at the local board of Realtors.
Anonymity doesn’t make for a negligent home inspector but lack of ability does. The fact that the buyers had been provided a list of reputable, experienced inspectors and chosen invisi-spector was on them. The lack of ability was on the inspector. I just got to be a hostage to the situation.
Years later, having worked through the grief, I’m opening a home for a home inspection when the doorbell rings and its Moe Howard, once again. This time I’m the listing agent and seriously wondering if, since I’m a transaction broker, this person’s lack of professional ability is something that I’m obligated to bring to the buyer’s attention as a material fact which can jeopardize the transaction.
An industry first: “Hello, Buyer’s Agent. I feel compelled to let you know that your client’s choice in home inspectors is so poor I have to make you aware of it. The buyers deserve a fair shot at getting a home that is properly inspected so they know exactly what they’re buying. They should have the benefit of infrared thermography and an inspector that will actually test every single outlet … not just the ones they feel like, every appliance … and make sure all cycles work, the lawn sprinklers … even when it’s raining and the attic … even if it’s way too hot up there, because that’s what they’re paying for and deserve.”
Instead, the inspector came and went and when he was done I put everything back to the way he originally found it by locking all of the sliding doors he left unlocked, turning off the main water he left turned on, turning back the thermostat to where it was, flipping the breaker for the hot water tank he left blazing and looked around for what else he might have touched that needed secured before I left, so that it wouldn’t burn to the ground.
It turns out that the inspector wasn’t on a list of recommendations that was provided to that buyer either. I guess out of paranoia the buyers wanted to find their own inspector that wouldn’t be “in cahoots” with anyone or wanted to save 10 dollars.
They found their inspector at the top of a pay-per-click Google ad which apparently now trumps years of experience and first hand observation of consumer-centric home inspectors who actually do their jobs well.
Is it wrong to hire off of Google? No, but like any other business they should be vetted for experience or at the very least be on a recommendation list besides the one they paid for on a search engine.
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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.