Home buyers have a lot of questions about a home inspection. They also sometimes believe common myths, as certain aspects of the process remain mysterious. That’s natural since most people only purchase a few homes in their lifetime. Some people only buy one.
As a certified home inspector, you have a great opportunity to educate buyers on the front end and alleviate unnecessary concerns on the back end. Here are five concerns and myths that pop up time and again. Explain the process beforehand and you’ll save a lot of headaches later for both you and the buyer.
Myth #1: If It’s in or Around the House It Must be Inspected
While it’s true that a certified home inspector will inspect the dwelling inside and out, he or she won’t inspect everything that’s inside and out. There are limits to what home inspectors can do.
One of the top home inspection customer complaints is an overlooked defect. Certainly, the inspector must not have paid attention. But if the item was never in the scope of an inspection in the first place, it wasn’t overlooked.
- Buyers should know what you will and won’t inspect. That includes anything that’s ordinarily included but inaccessible on the day of the inspection. If an armoire blocks an electrical outlet, you won’t have access and won’t inspect it.
Myth #2: An Appraisal is as Good as an Inspection
If the buyer uses a lender, the lender will send an appraiser to check out the property. Unfortunately, buyers sometimes confuse this part of the process. They may think that appraisers are on their side. Realtormag says they may also think that an appraiser will find anything that an inspector could, which leads some buyers to skip the inspection.
Appraisers traditionally work for the lender and their job is to determine value. That lets the lender determine if the home supports the asking price. They may find the most obvious of defects. But appraisers won’t shimmy through a crawl space, test GFCI receptacles, or suss out the source of mysterious plumbing leaks.
- Buyers should know the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection. They should also know that while the appraiser works for the bank or the seller, you work for the buyer.
Myth #3: Home Inspectors Should Know (or Could Never Know) Everything About a House
Home buyers tend to fall into two camps about the scope of home inspection work. Some think inspectors should know everything and find everything. As such, they are remiss in their duties if anything goes wrong after closing.
The other camp thinks home inspectors probably know almost nothing about home systems. They’re generalists, after all, and what generalist could thoroughly inspect every system in a house in a knowledgeable way?
The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle. Certified home inspectors are knowledgeable. You might not be an HVAC technician, but you know how different systems work and how to spot common defects.
- Buyers should know that while you may not have expert-level knowledge in every imaginable system, you do have the skills necessary to perform a thorough home inspection.
Myth #4: Home Inspectors Must be Licensed
This myth is quite common. At some point, every home inspection customer will find out that it’s not true, but educating your market can help eliminate it for good.
Some states do license home inspectors. Many do not. A license doesn’t make a better home inspector, just as the absence of a license doesn’t mean the inspector doesn’t know the job.
- Buyers should know that licensing is a state-level requirement. What matters more is education, certification (which is available to any inspector), and experience.
Myth #5: Inspectors are Also Known as Deal Busters
In every town, there’s probably one disgruntled real estate agent and seller who blames a home inspector for a deal gone afoul. Buyers should celebrate inspectors who provide enough information to help them avoid a bad investment. Real estate agents should, too.
Unless a home inspector uses unnecessarily persuasive language to portray home defects as much worse than they are, a report should be viewed as nothing but information. What the customer does with it is his or her own choice.
- Buyers should know that a home inspection report is information-only. It contains information about the condition of a house while you were on-site. If the condition was poor, the report gives them time to renegotiate, back out of the deal or at least go forward knowing what they’re getting into. But Realtormag also reminds that inspections were never intended to be negotiating tools.
The home inspection industry is just beginning to mature. As such, a lot of myths still circulate among agents, buyers, and sellers. Just a few decades ago, buyers tended to buy a house with only the vaguest idea about whether or not it was worth the asking price. Some hired contractors to give the property a once-over. As more and more inspectors enter the field, facts will overtake the myths. You can do your part to support the industry through educating clients before they sign a pre-inspection agreement.