It’s been a nice run, but I just got my first angry letter from a seller who’s home did not sell because of my inspection report. (I’ve done about 125 inspections now.)
I know I don’t have to respond to her since she’s not even supposed to have a copy of the report (only my clients-the buyers- should have seen it), but I thought I might use my reply to her as an opportunity to market, in a way, to the estate agents also involved in this mess (whom she also sent copies of her letter to.)
I also want to step carefully here, and say nothing back to her that she could use against me.
Below is a portion of her letter, and below that is a draft of my reponse. Any meaningful input is appreciated. Thank you fellas.
Part of her letter:
*Upon receiving your report from my realtor, all I can say is that we are both shocked and somewhat put off by your lack of knowledge on how this process normally proceeds. *
*First, you are an inspector and to my knowledge, not a contractor. To tell your client that my home needs $80,000 worth of work is highly unprofessional, unethical, and not to mention far from the truth. *
*Secondly, this home is more than 120 years old. To state that the porch wall is too low, rather than state that the porch wall is as expected for a home of that age. This goes for the sloping of the stairs and the need for handrails as well. *
*You stated that there was an active leak in the upstairs bathroom sink. There is not. Before you went to do your inspection, I had a contractor go there to install the sink stoppers which were not done by the previous contactor. He ran water while installing the stopper which left a little water under the sink. I dried under the sink and ran water for several minutes and there is absolutely no leak. All plumbing was dry as well as the sink cabinet. This should have been easily detected by you. *
*Why would you write that there are ‘one or more electrical receptacles near a water source’ at the garage? I lived in that house for 20 years and there has never been a water source near that garage. *
*To say that a carbon monoxide detector is of serious concern is ridiculous. I have one in each of my rental homes, most do not even have a fireplace (I had one in this home too, which the previous tenants must have taken). In my opinion, that is your job to detect if there is a carbon monoxide leak and suggest to a buyer that they have a CO detector. For your peace of mind, I plugged one in yesterday. *
*You have cost me the sell of this home by scaring buyers into thinking that it needs $80,000 worth of work. I would like to know how you came up with that figure. *
I will kindly wait for your response and am seriously considering filing a complaint with The Professional Licensing Committee.
Draft of my response to her:
*As a home inspector my primary concern is for the safety and well-being of my clients. If I encounter something that is defective, deficient, or could cause injury, I’m obligated to tell them about it. *
*One example from the inspection- there was no handrail at the front steps. It’s true that those were not required in the year 1900 when the home was built. But today they’re strongly recommended if not in place (falls are the leading cause of injury in the home). *
*Obviously, with the home being 120+ years old, there are things about it that are not up to today’s standards. (Homes built 10 years ago aren’t up to today’s standards, for that matter.) Each item in the inspection report had a recommendation for repair; nothing was required. That means you’re allowed to sell a home that has a missing handrail, but it’s not recommended. It’s the same with other items like the GFCI’s and the height of the porch rail. *
*Home inspectors are “generalists”. Though we may not be certified plumbers, electricians, or roofers, we look for things that are, or could be, defective or unsafe conditions. That being said, if an issue is subsequently looked into by a qualified contractor who holds a license to practice in that area, and they decide the issue is not defective or unsafe, then we, the home inspectors, automatically defer to them, since they are the specialist. *
As far as which recommendations are asked to be repaired or further evaluated by the buyers, that’s not what I do. My job is to look over the home and give my client information about the home. Since the buyers are the ones who will be living there, they need to decide, with the guidance of their realtor, which items in the report to talk to the selling side about.