Home inspectors are often on the receiving end of the term "deal killer". When examining the reason behind this, one can find valid points to dispute the nickname. An article by Trulia.com cites lack of buyer commitment, low appraisals, and poorly written contingencies as the top three reasons that real estate transactions fall apart. This is not to argue that a home inspection, which reveals major defects, cannot “kill a deal”. Let's just take under consideration that the most common failure in a real estate transaction is not the inspection.
Real estate agents and good home inspectors can minimize the shock that buyers often feel after a home inspection is completed. The best way, in my opinion, is to set proper expectations and education. Today's home buyers are often unprepared for the home inspection process. They do not understand how a home functions and they did not grow up helping their parents make repairs around their home. As stated in last month's article, this generation of buyers also have higher expectations. They often believe that the home should be in perfect condition and if not, the seller should make every repair needed to meet that standard.
Something very important for buyers to understand is that no home is perfect. Whether the home was built in 1920 or 2017, there is a great likelihood that defects will be noted. Most often, the defects in a 2017 home would be small and simple to repair, whereas, the 1920 home could have more costly defects. An inspection report will list all defects found at the time of inspection and it's up to the agent and the home inspector to help the buyer navigate through the report.
I remember when home inspection reports were roughly 12 pages and that included pictures. Home inspection reports today are often 40-60 pages and may include videos, thermal images, aerial photos, and even sewer scopes. Buyers also have online access to information, such as building or improvement permits, tax information and even insurance claims. This information overload can affect a home buyer's decision-making skills.
The home buyer may have difficulty discerning between minor and major issues on the inspection report. The home inspector and real estate agent should review the report with them and answer any questions they may have. Buyers need to understand that not all the defects on the inspection report have the same urgency for repair and it is highly unlikely that the seller will fix all the minor defects. It is important when looking through the home inspection report and preparing the repair request list to differentiate the minor repairs from the major ones.
It's also important for home buyers to understand the maintenance that comes with home ownership. No home is maintenance free, and of course, the older the home is, the more maintenance the buyer will inherit. This ensures that the buyer has all the necessary information to make an educated decision on the home right for them, as some buyers may not be in a financial position to maintain an older home.
In conclusion, a better educated buyer will be able to make a decision that is right for them on asking for repairs and moving forward with the purchase of a home. Real estate agents that understand the home inspection process will also understand that it is the condition of the home and the inability to get repairs completed and not the actual home inspector that kills deals.