In the space between the home inspection and real estate transaction closing, almost anything can happen. Storms roll through, which can damage roofs and break windows. Corelogic reported in September that hurricane damage from Irma totaled as much as $65 billion. The seller or moving company may cause unintentional damage while moving the owner out. In some cases, disgruntled sellers in foreclosure sabotage the property.
Usually, real property doesn’t transfer ownership the same day as the inspection. The inspector may check out the property days, if not weeks, in advance. So what happens if new defects arise in the meantime and the home buyer only finds them later?
What is a Certified Home Inspector Responsible For?
You already know the basics of what a certified home inspector is required to do: inspect what’s visible and accessible. There’s a lot of wiggle room in those guidelines, as they’re meant to be the minimum standard. Most inspectors go well beyond.
Since home inspectors aren’t usually psychic, they’re only responsible for reporting defects that exist at the time of the inspection. What comes later is out of their hands.
What if the Buyer Claims the Inspector Overlooked Defects?
It’s not uncommon for a buyer to remember a house a bit differently from the way it presents later. Maybe it’s because they look with more scrutiny as the closing approaches. But sometimes, it’s because new or unreported defects exist.
The home buyer may think their inspector overlooked defects. That’s what E&O insurance is for. But if the home inspection report clearly shows that the refrigerator was in good working order, then later it’s missing altogether, there’s obviously something else afoot. The American Society of Home Inspectors West Washington Chapter (ASHIWW) says damage and missing items after an inspection require communication between buyer and seller, not necessarily the inspector.
The best protections are insurance, a thorough home inspection report, and having the buyer accompany you during the inspection. Photos don’t lie. And if you did inadvertently overlook something, insurance will cover you.
Might the Buyer Want a Second Inspection After a Disaster?
Especially during tornado and hurricane seasons, but really at any time, a storm or other natural disaster could pop up after the home inspection has been finalized. Once an inspection report is wrapped up and delivered, it’s over and done. The buyers are on their own, and so is the seller. But that also opens up a new avenue to help the buyer and generate a little more business.
A natural disaster might stop a sale in its tracks or at least pause it. The lender would certainly want a new appraisal. The insurance company would want an inspection, too. The buyer would have no one on their side unless you–the handy inspector–step back into the picture for a fresh inspection. As the original inspector in the sale, you may be better equipped to assess the scope of new damage. If the sale falls apart, the seller might need your services before marketing the home again later.
You can’t control Mother Nature, but you can protect your business and continue to help customers in the worst of situations. The seller’s moving company may punch a hole through a wall while carrying a dresser down the staircase. Or a hurricane may cause new roof damage that wasn’t in the inspection report because it didn’t exist.
Buyers have a final walk-through opportunity before closing. Although they aren’t required to take advantage of it, this simple process lets them compare your home inspection report to the home as they find it. If there’s unreported damage, you might get a phone call asking why. With exceptional inspection habits and great home inspection reporting software, you’ll be covered.
If you’re not happy with your current inspection reporting software or you’re ready to try a mobile app, Report Form Pro and the newest version, Report Form Pro 2 are your answer. Download the app for Android or get it for your iPhone today.