X-Ray Vision And Psychic Skills

Realty Check: Best inspectors calmly assess home condition
By Richard Courtney
February 09, 2007

One of the most important aspects of the home buying process is the inspection. No home should be purchased without an inspection. Contrary to the opinions of most buyers, the sellers usually are not aware of any defects that the house may have. As a general rule, if something in the house is in bad shape, the homeowner has it repaired.

On one occasion, Walter Jowers, a seasoned home inspector, removed the covering of an electrical panel only to find smoldering wires that would have eventually caused a fire. Had the home not been inspected that day, it may have been reduced to ashes by the following day. Most banks will not loan money with ashes as collateral.

It that case, it is obvious that the homeowner was oblivious to the malfunctioning wires. However, in many instances it is impossible to convince the buyers that the owners are unaware of the maladies. As such, the inspection in itself is a trying situation.

The psychology of the events creates a potential emotional train wreck. The sequence of events begins with the search for the home for the buyer. This process can last for weeks, months, and — believe it or not — years. Finally the person finds the perfect house.

The negotiations over price, closing date, and possession can turn the buyers and sellers into warring adversaries with total disdain — and sometimes no trust — for one another. Then comes the inspector, these days equipped with enough gadgetry to make Andy Pargh, the Gadget Guru, blush, and a legal document overladen with disclaimers and waivers.

In today’s litigious society, these fellows have been sued for not knowing that a house has termite eggs incubating within a tube in a stud behind a half-inch of drywall. Again to quote Walter Jowers, he announces upon arrival, “I want to make two things perfectly clear. I cannot see through walls and I cannot predict the future.”

While those comments might seem sublime, Jowers nevertheless has been called upon the carpet for his inadequacies as far as x-ray vision, and for his undeveloped psychic skills. Unfortunate.

With preliminary announcements out of the way, the inspector goes to work. He must find every possible shortcoming in the house or he as not performed the job for which he was hired. He must then inform the buyer of the deficiencies. Remember, psychologically, the buyer has married this house — and the inspector is about to inform the newlywed that the house is cheating on her.

At this point, bedside manner is important. The delivery of the information can kill the deal. Once again to debunk a myth, the Realtor does not want the buyer to purchase a bad house. If the house has irreparable issues, the contract should be terminated. There are other houses out there.

(My Comments: Sometimes the Realtor wants what is best
for the buyer… but often enough this is not always the case…:roll: )

The best inspectors calmly assess the condition pointing out issues and recommending the appropriate repairs. If those repair requests are then presented respectfully, and without accusation, the sellers will agree.

Typically, sellers are a reasonable lot, as they would not want to inhabit a faulty house themselves. Regardless, if requests for repairs are valid, the sellers may as well make those repairs.

Richard Courtney is the managing broker of the Music Row office of Fridrich and Clark Realty LLC. He thinks roof and HVAC systems are like wine: They get better with age. And he likes to pair a dark 1992 asphalt shingle roof with a 1986 gaspack HVAC system. Courtney can be reached at RichardCourtney.com