Buying or Selling? Get the right Home Inspector for the right reasons.

Whether you are buying or selling a property, when you employ someone to work for you, you expect them to do the best possible job.

You do this when you select your Realtor, you should do this when you select your Home Inspector too.

A Home Inspection is often seen differently by the home buyer or the home seller.

To the home buyer, the Home Inspection is seen as a sort of insurance policy that an expert has been called in to ensure there is nothing wrong with the home that is being looked at as a future purchase.

To the home seller it is looked at as an opportunity for the home buyer to find fault with the home so that the price is reduced.

Both of these beliefs are mistakes.

Mist aches a penThe purpose of the Home Buyers inspection is to try to identify anything that will visibly lead to a belief that something is currently wrong with the property that will accelerate a problem down the road, or that is a health or safety issue at the time of the inspection.

Home buyers are wrong because a home inspection is not an insurance that promises nothing will go wrong with the property in the future.  The chances are, it will.

A house, somewhat unbelievably, is almost like a living organism.  It needs to breath, in the Inspection industry we call this ventilation, it needs to be fed and washed and cared for.  It will age.  All of these together will mean that over time, exposed to unfavourable conditions and neglected it will age quicker than it should.

It is precisely this reason that the Home Sellers are wrong.  The home inspection is not there to get them to reduce their price, or to even “kill a deal”, it is there precisely to identify the issues that are presented by premature aging.

Unlike a human, premature aging in a property can be stopped and even reversed with the proper maintenance and timely repairs.  Like you car, regular maintenance can put-off or avoid completely major repairs or even total loss further down the line.

If home sellers were to have a home inspection BEFORE the property was put on the market, they could ensure that the work was completed prior to the listing, ensuring that they could ask top dollar for their property.

A pre-sale home inspection offers something else far more important, peace of mind for the Seller, and the Sellers Realtor, that they have made full disclosure of any defect that does exist, or have gone to whatever lengths needed to eradicate that defect.  The cost of a law-suit after a sale can be just as devastating, more so than losing a few days before listing and a few hundred dollars on fixing a problem or lowering an asking price slightly.  A pre-sale inspection often speeds up the sale process as it allows the purchaser to employ the same inspector in a “walk-through” inspection at a nominal cost.  This removes any notion of conflict of interest as the Inspector is then contractually bound to both the Home Buyer and Home Seller and is liable to both to do the best possible job.

Choosing the right Home Inspector

When choosing the right Home Inspector you should look at what you want out of them, and what education and experience they have as well as what influences they might be subjected to.

If you ask your Realtor for a recommendation, you are possibly starting a chain reaction that might have serious implications later on.

Is the Realtor being objective in their recommendations?

Many Brokerages have a preferred vendor list which only allow Home Inspectors who pay them money to be recommended.  These Brokerages present these payments as “advertising charges”.  Some even stop their agents from recommending Home Inspectors who are not on the Preferred list.  This is obviously a conflict of interest, and against the code of ethics of both the Realtor and the Home inspector.  If the Realtor you are thinking of using works for a Brokerage that acts in this way, my suggestion is you choose a different Brokerage, in my opinion, they are not serving you, they are serving their bottom line.  Google this for example of this practice:

Is the Home Inspector related to the Realtor in any way?

Whether by family tie, or business association is a Realtor and Home Inspector are related, this is again a conflict of interest.  It does go on, but it is unethical, and even if the Home Inspector does the best possible job, if problems occur later on an a law-suit ensues, this relationship will act as evidence of possible wrong-doing.  If the Realtor does offer you such a choice, you have two choices to make, the first is definitely choose another Home Inspector or your finding, and second, maybe change your Realtor.

Is the Home Inspector Certified?

Multiple Home Inspector certificationsIn Ontario as in most provinces across Canada, Home Inspectors do not yet need to be licensed.  They do not need to be Registered, they do not need to be Certified.  Choose one that has voluntarily embarked on a training program. This ensures they have the best skills for the job in hand. It shows they have carried their commitment to education to get either Certified, Registered, or where needed licensed.  Ask the Home Inspector of evidence of their education.  Check their background and their Certifications Make sure they are current members of a recognised Home or Property Inspector Association such as The Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors (OntarioACHI), The International Association of Home Inspectors (NACHI) or Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) (or one of their provincial societies), the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).   Our inspectors are members of both OntarioACHI and NACHI in addition to other professional associations.  They have been trained to the highest certifications possible in these associations in addition to extra college education to supplement their skills.

Does the Inspector have experience in building or fault-diagnosis of any kind?

As previously said, no prior experience is required to be a home inspector.  So choose one that has as least some background in construction, renovation or any form of root-cause analysis whether it be medical, mechanical or logical.  Someone who is capable of seeing something, and then analysing it to see if something else is causing or affected by it is going to be those most attentive inspector. Our inspectors are.

Is the Home Inspector known as a “Deal Killer”?

If so, then maybe this is the home inspector you want to choose.  While it is true that some inspectors find fault with everything, the vast majority of Certified Inspectors are diligent, accurate and honest in their reporting.  These inspectors may produce the longest reports often exceeding 50-60 pages, but the majority of these reports will be notes for your information.  These inspectors will normally highlight only material defects and safety issues.  Material defects are anything that would cause the value of a property to be negatively impacted, and safety issues are exactly that.  While a Realtor stands lose many thousands of dollars if a deal goes south, the professional ones realise that having a satisfied client in a secure home is better than employing a bad inspector who either misses issues or deliberately downplays them to assist the realtor make the deal.

Check out the Home Inspectors References

Most professional Home Inspectors will be proud to show you the references and testimonials they have from prior clients.   The really good ones will not just select the good ones and omit the bad ones.  Our client testimonials are posted automatically to this website, regardless of what people may think, regardless of the rating we get, you get to see them.

Some interesting links you might want to check out are:

Washington Post Report

Canada Housing & Mortgage Corporation