This is probably the biggest investment in your life; who can you trust to help you make an informed decision?
It may not be the person you would first assume!
There are three main players in this buy/don’t buy scenario: You ( the home buyer), your Realtor and the Home Inspector.
You, the home buyer, are obviously the most important party in this scenario and everyone else should be supporting you in this decision. The Home Inspector is next important because he is the one responsible for giving you important and critical information to help you make this very important decision. The Realtor is least important in this equation, although, they may not agree. The Realtor is a key player in locating properties and helping facilitate the intricacies of the legal aspects of the transfer of property. But, the Realtor knows nothing about this particular property you are considering and therefor the need for a home inspection. This report may sound very negative, which it is not intended to be, but there are conflicts of interest you should be aware of.
Know your Realtor!
It is an inherent part of the real estate business that the Realtor has a basic conflict of interest with the home buyer. The Realtor makes his commission only if the sale of the property goes through. And the less time Realtors spend on finding properties, writing contracts, negotiating, and the myriad chores the more money they make. Hence, the conflict of interest: if a home inspection has a lot of what the Realtor regards as “negative” information the less likely the deal will go through, more time will be required for negotiations, and a lower rate of return for the Realtor and the Realtor’s broker. You must know that your Realtor is unequivocally behind you, is trustworthy, and has your best interests first and foremost.
Some Red Flags
If your Realtor wants you to use their preferred home inspector be sure to do your research before complying. If the Realtor suggests that you don’t need a comprehensive inspection and that a limited, restricted inspection should suffice know why they feel that way. Some less that reputable Realtors may indicate that the only items of serious concern are items of “health and/or safety.” WRONG! The items of importance and concern are whatever you think they are. Based on the information from the home inspector you decide what is important, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. If the Realtor frequently criticizes the home inspector or argues with the inspector this is another red flag. Especially important is if the Realtor recommends a regular home inspector who is not a true professional and is not a structural engineer. A regular non-engineer home inspector may miss significant structural problems. A furnace can be replaced, a water heater can be replaced but if structural problems arise after you’ve purchased the home it could be financially devastating. Always use a professional structural engineer home inspector!
Again, if is unfortunate that this article sounds like Realtor bashing; it’s not meant to be that. There are great people who are Realtors and there are less than great people who are Realtors. We just want you to be confident about who you are working with and be careful if some red flags appear. Of course, temper these comments with the property you are purchasing. If you’re purchasing an obvious fixer-upper, needing a lot of TLC, you’ll need to be flexible and the inspection can be more limited. If you are wanting to by a nice move-in-ready home, not needing significant repairs or remodeling, you need to know as much as possible and it is recommended that you pay the extra money for a comprehensive inspection. But most importantly, stay strong about what is acceptable and important to you. Your opinion is the one that matters.