Albany Home Inspections – Alright so I’m going to just throw this out on the table because I’m a bit frustrated about how the home inspection model works sometimes in the Albany NY, Saratoga, Gloversville areas, and surrounding areas.

Hiring a thorough home inspector might result in rework and/or the contractor incurring additional costs, so the home inspector that “gets it done” is the home inspector that gets hired. This is a major conflict of interest. The good inspector that does a thorough job gets punished with a lack of repeat business from real estate agents.

There is a similar affect in the home inspection business in other areas, if during a buyer’s home inspection you point out the details (even smartly and by not over inflating issues) you pose a risk to the deal and to the transaction and if it occurs often you are rewarded with the title of; Deal Breaker. This is one of the issues, but the other is how this affects the buyer and the overall efficiency of real estate transactions.

Here are some thoughts.

1. In many cases the real estate company, both the buyer and seller, have many hours and dollars invested in the property and in their client, so by the time an initial offer has been drafted and accepted they are ready to close the deal, recoup their costs, and make a profit. Anyone upsetting that process gets the stink eye.

2. Until a thorough home inspection is done the buyer and often the agents really don’t know what they are getting in to. So the buyer forks out a few hundred dollars to find out that a home is trash, bails on the deal, loses his/her money, and then goes and has to fork out another few hundred dollars and do it again and again until they find a house that is acceptable to them or that can be negotiated to their liking.

3. This is a critical one – if you break up a few deals for what an agent might consider to be “pity” or for concerns that they see as no big deal you suddenly fall off of the referral list and your home inspection business suffers. Whether we like it or not we’re trying to appeal to real estate agents so that our card/name is one of the few that get handed out for a potential buyer to use. I think that word of mouth exists in the buyers circle, but the real estate agents are the gateway in most cases.

When big discoveries are made everyone appreciates your discovery, but I know for a fact that a couple of my biggest competitors and a couple of the busiest home inspectors in the Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga area have minimal reports, often do not crawl the entirety of crawl spaces, walk roofs, or enter attics beyond the access and it just so happens they rarely break up deals as well! These are “good” inspectors when you haven’t closed a property in a while and need your commission.

I’m not trying to say that agents are crooked or that they want things over-looked and not reported in the interest of their commission they have a reputation to uphold as well. I think that in most cases agents are surprised at the findings of a home inspector, but none the less they want to close a deal. My real focus here is on the lack of efficiency; the waste of time and money that I think can be substantially reduced.

My solution is…Mandatory Pre-Listing Home Inspections. The benefits:
1. The seller’s agent knows what they are signing up for and the buyer’s agent can better filter listings for their client(s).

2. Buyers have a document to review to help them determine if the home and any issues found are something they are interested in dealing with.

3. Initial listings have a more accurate initial asking price.

4. Buyers do not spend money inspecting homes that don’t match their search criteria; “no projects”. Sometimes homes turn in to “projects” after a home inspection rather than move-in ready properties.

5. This method is a HUGE efficiency increase. If listings contained home inspection reports (perhaps upon request) the frequency of showing homes and driving around viewing a home’s curb appeal is greatly reduced. If there is mold in the attic and you’re willing to deal with it then you go look at the house, if mold is a deal breaker than why waste any time?

In addition the time it takes to negotiate repairs or price reductions, with multiple parties involved in this process, is virtually eliminated on many transactions. Sellers can take the report and deal with the issues prior to listing the property or list the property “AS-IS, NO NEGOTIATIONS” and buyers can make decisions during a preview rather than paying for a home inspection and going back and forth with their agent, the seller, the seller’s agent, contractors, etc. trying to find a common ground. Even if the home owner dealt with the little things; broken door hardware, downspouts missing attachment hardware, unsealed roof penetrations…the little things…this would eliminate a number of reported items and increase the chance of the home selling and reduce the transaction time.

It goes without saying that this would be a huge increase in business for the home inspection profession. Of course shabby home inspectors will surface and perform sub-standard inspections for sellers, but I believe that those home inspectors would be weeded out relatively quickly. Of course the buyer always has the option of having their own home inspection done as well.

Sometimes I hesitate to tell people that I am a home inspector because so many people I talk to have had bad experiences, does this solve that problem? No it doesn’t, but it changes the perspective of the agents that refer us to our clients and it benefits the agents to have the best inspector possible inspect homes pre-listing because it is more efficient for them in the long run. They refer the high quality home inspectors that are nit-picky and that will point out the details rather than avoiding them and perhaps referring a mediocre home inspector in the interest of time.

If a seller approaches a real estate agent with a quality report that outlines 30 items listed they have the option to say; “Thanks….but unless you deal with items X, Y and Z no thanks, I’d rather pass on the listing than have my name tied to this.” Or… “By dealing with these 10 items this report will be received by potential buyers much better and increase our chances at moving the property and if we leave the other 20 items we’ll probably need to expect a price point of $X rather than the $Y you are asking for.”

Houses are complex systems and the general public has no idea what they are looking at when shopping for a home. It seems more than reasonable to me to put some obligation on a home owner to have a pre-listing home inspection performed and to put a house on the market with more detail than; 3 bd 2 ba, hardwood floors, forced air gas heat, and granite counter-tops.

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