In the process of purchasing a home, the buyer’s due diligence includes the right to conduct a home inspection. Typically, the seller’s agent fails to order out a home inspection report for presentation with the property disclosures owed to your buyer before they submit an offer.

Without a home inspection report (HIR) provided by the seller or seller’s agent, your duties as the buyer’s agent include guiding and advising your buyers on the selection of a home inspector, and assisting them in ordering out a home inspection report on the property.

As in all conduct with your buyer, an agent uses their accumulated knowledge and expertise to guide the buyer. Here, these attributes are applied to recommend a home inspector as part of their duty of care owed to the buyer, without actually choosing the inspector for them. Remember: you are the advisor – the buyer makes the ultimate decision once informed.

The purpose of the home inspection is to have an independent, non-biased, third party conduct an investigation and prepare a report on the physical aspects of the property. Providing your expert knowledge regarding the home inspection process and a selection of qualified home inspectors to choose from fulfills your agency duty owed to your buyer.

As the buyer’s agent, advise them on the advantages of selecting an experienced, qualified and preferably certified home inspector. Provide them with a list of reputable inspectors you and your colleagues have worked with or observed. Recommend inspectors about whom you have first-hand knowledge of their work ethic as a thorough and diligent inspector, whose reports are promptly delivered and their content always reliable.

A reputable inspector provides buyers with the assurance the property is free of defects except those listed on their inspection report. Better yet, the report adds an additional level of care for your buyer than will likely be provided by the seller’s and seller’s agent’s written disclosures in a Condition of Property Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) covering property defects. [See first tuesday Form 304]

Editor’s note – When the seller’s agent obtains an inspection report and prepares the TDS based on the agent’s mandated physical inspection as well as the home inspector’s report, the report shift’s liability for errors onto the home inspector. Not so when the buyer under contract arranges the home inspection and obtains their own report.

See related article:

Agent’s written request authorizing an inspection

Have your buyer review sample inspection reports provided by these inspectors if they are readily available. While reviewing sample reports, you can counsel your buyers about what to look for in the report as defects not disclosed or known to the buyer at the time the seller accepted their purchase offer. Thus, the buyer is given a sense of how to interpret the reports and what potentially negative items  to look for.

Once your buyers decide on an inspector to hire, get their authorization to set up the appointment based on their selection. Always set up the appointment on the buyer’s behalf, and confirm with both the inspector and the buyer the fee the buyer is to pay for the inspection. Generally, inspectors require the fee be paid in advance or at the time of the inspection. [See first tuesday Form 130]

Set the inspection appointment at a convenient time for your buyer which enables them to be present during the inspection. Also, assist the buyer in creating a list of questions to ask the inspector during the inspection. These questions, along with observations made by the inspector, can be explained to the buyer directly for a first-hand understanding of the buyer’s concerns and the severity of any observed defect.

Further, explain to the buyer the importance of your presence at the inspection. It is vital for you to understand the nature of the defects that exist, since you will be the one noting any defects in writing to the sellers when your buyers ask for repairs. [See first tuesday Form 269]

Keep in mind that most home inspectors are “general” home inspectors. In addition to the home inspection, advise your buyers they need to consider hiring experts to review specific components of the home that may be outside of the scope of the general inspection. These areas include:

  • pool/spa;
  • chimney;
  • septic systems;
  • roof;
  • well;
  • structural; and
  • environmental hazards such as mold, asbestos and lead-based paint.

Even though the general inspector may point out defects within these specialized areas, an expert can evaluate potential repair costs and life expectancies for various components of the structure.

If your buyer decides not to proceed with the home purchase due to inspection findings which disclose defects the buyer was not aware of at the time their offer was accepted, don’t be timid about preparing the documents for the buyer to sign requesting the cancellation of the transaction if repairs are not to be considered. [See first tuesday Form 183]

Forcing your buyers to buy a home they don’t want will likely cause the buyer grief, leading to claims on the agent or other adverse consequences.

As the buyer’s agent, remember that home inspection requests and reports are between your buyer and the inspector. Consult, assist and recommend – but leave the selecting to your buyer when you order out that home inspection – even if your buyer is a speculator.