Are Home Inspectors Deal Killers?
The short answer is, they can be. So how do they kill the deal?
Approximately 1/3 of contracts get terminated due to issues found during a home inspection.
Reasons why the home inspector killed the deal.
They present issues negatively at the walkthrough/in person.
“Fixing that is going to cost you a bundle.”
“Glad I’m not buying/living in this house.”
“Why would anybody do that?”
“Before we get started with the walkthrough you need to know there are a lot of problems with this house.”
If the Home Inspector can start a conversation with the fact that every house has issues and the older and not well-maintained house can have more issues than normal, it helps the buyer know that some issues are going to be there.
The issues in the report conflict with what was said in person.
This is confusing and scary for most home buyers. At the walkthrough the issue was, “No big deal, just have someone fix it”. Then when the buyer is reading the report it says, “This issue is of major concern due to … I recommend it be evaluated by a qualified, licensed, contractor at your earliest convenience”. So, for the buyer, 2 different statements have been made. Which one is real? Which other statement was made that the buyer may be confused by?
They don’t communicate the information confidently.
This is where the Home Inspector comes across as not confidant in their knowledge, skill level or experience. They come across as nervous or unsure of themselves. They don’t give solid and direct answers(wishy-washy). The Home Inspector should be confident in their abilities, be able to talk with buyers in a calm manner and a non-arrogant way.
They fail to explain the issue in a manner the client understands.
The Home Inspector explains issues using technical language that the buyer may not understand. They might not explain how an issue is related to or how it might affect other systems in the house. There language implies that only a professional will be able to fix the issue.
They operate or comment on issues outside their association’s “Standards of Practice”.
Home Inspectors do have some leeway to go above their associations SOP. For example, if the Home Inspector was a licensed electrician prior to them becoming a Home Inspector they can comment more extensively on electrical issues. SOPs are there to protect everybody. When a Home Inspector comes across as an expert in everything, you begin to wonder what they really know. Also, operating outside the association’s SOP can leave you open to lawsuits.
They exaggerate the facts.
During the walkthrough every issue is a “the sky is falling” issue. Every house has issues. The Home Inspector needs to explain each issue based in reality. This goes back to how they communicate and the language they use to explain an issue.
If the way the Home Inspector is explaining the issues is making the real estate agent nervous about the condition of the house, step back to see if it is exaggerated language or not.
Every issue is referred to a professional to evaluate.
Is every issue really that bad? I have seen inspection reports that refer to a structural engineer or concrete contractor for evaluation for drying cracks in a concrete slab. Some questions you might want to ask yourself; Does this Home Inspector really know what they are looking at? Is the Home Inspector putting these comments in just to cover all the bases? Is he referring business to his buddy?
Every issue does not need to be referred to a specialist for evaluation. There are a lot of issues the homeowner can fix themselves. Remember houses need regular care and maintenance.
There are bad apples in every profession.
These are the people who have a little knowledge and want to do the least possible work, get paid and move on. Their reports are just a check list. They take 1-2 hours for the inspection on any size house and their walkthrough, if they offer one, is “This house is in pretty good shape”, or “I wouldn’t buy this house”.
Why did the buyer back out?
I will admit that sometimes it may be hard to tell if a house is really that bad or was it the inspector.
Was it that the client did not want to spend the money or the time to fix all the issues?
Did the buyer find another house they like better and are using the inspection report as an excuse to get out of the contract?
What can you as the agent do?
Get a prelisting inspection of the house. Then you know what you are getting into and maybe fix some of the issues found.
Look at the inspector’s website. It should have a sample report. You can get a good idea of the inspectors’ style, thought process and deal killer ability reading their report.
Have coffee with the inspector to get to know their background, practices, philosophy of inspections and how they do them.
Talk with other agents who have used them for their opinions.
These are some of my thoughts about how or if a home inspector can be a deal killer form a home inspector’s perspective.
If you would like to comment on this article, send me an e-mail to;