Monday, June 15, 2020

The Real Reasons Home Inspections Kill Deals



Often I hear real estate agents complain that they have worked weeks, months, even years with a client only to have “their” deal killed by the home inspection or the home inspector. Statistics show that 15-25% of sales do not go through after a home inspection. So are home inspectors at fault, or, are there are other issues that led to the terminated contract? I want to look into all these issues more closely and offer possible solutions.

As a licensed home inspector who has worked with countless real estate agents in the past 27 years, I know there are several things that can lead to a canceled sale. Some home inspectors can be overzealous, especially new inspectors who may have expertise in one aspect of home construction, but lacks experience in others. For example, a former HVAC technician who became a home inspector, would be more critical of HVAC installations, or a former roofing contractor more critical of roof details, etc. Sometimes, an overzealous inspection can be related to an inspector's experiences, or lack of experience in the home inspection business. If the inspector has poor communication skills he can be misunderstood; and then, other times, the buyer is looking for a way out of the deal prior to the home inspection, and uses the home inspection contingency clause as the way out.

While it is acknowledged that overzealous inspections can happen, in the vast majority of times, it is the unique characteristics of the property, buyer expectations and unprepared buyers that result in a cancellation due to the home inspection.

So what can a real estate agent do to improve his or her odds that the sale is not canceled?

1. Prepare the Buyers for Bad News: An agent may not have any construction experience, but they should be able to identify some issues that impact value on a property. The true cost of buying a home is the sales price plus the cost of repairs to bring the property to an "average sales condition". Home Inspectors are the "bad news bears" because we are being hired to find the problems with the property that the buyers are enamored with.  We like to tell clients that no house is perfect because houses are built by people who are not perfect, and built with materials made by imperfect people. Buyers need to understand that no house they purchase will be perfect, although some are more perfect than others, and that the agent is there to help with the negotiation where and when warranted.  When an agent tells his or her client to expect the home inspector to find things wrong with the property, and maps a game plan with the buyers to deal with findings ahead of time, it makes their job of following up after the inspection much easier. In the past, I have seen agents use percentage of sales contract contingency clauses, or a lower contract price on the front end, to hopefully deal with home inspection results on the back end.
2. Prepare the Buyers with Realistic Expectations: So do you prepare a buyer for an offer in a strong sellers market different than a buyers market? Of course you do!
In a buyers market the buyer has the upper hand (home prices are falling) and the results of the home inspection should be expected to be discounted from the sales price. A buyers agent has to work harder at negotiation in this kind of market. On the other hand, in a strong sellers market (home prices are rising), the seller has the upper hand. The home inspection results should not necessarily be expected to be negotiated, unless there are big ticket items that need resolution. It is the job of the buyers agent to educate the buyer on market conditions prior to the home inspection.
3. Prepare the Buyers for Unique Characteristics: No two people are the same and you can say the same thing about houses. In markets with subdivisions, homes that are of similar age are easier to see differences in maintenance and other issues. However, an older home, with deferred maintenance that has not been updated in several years; might be a clue that you’re in for a rough home inspection. Even newer homes with cosmetic issues can be problematic to deal with. Big surprise ticket items like roofs and structure issues can easily result in a canceled sale and that is due to no fault of anyone, except possibly the seller. Hopefully, if a sale becomes cancelled due to unique negative characteristics, the real estate agent has built a trusting relationship with the buyer that will enable them to keep showing the client other properties.

Sometimes buyers get confused because they have not been prepared by the agent, they don't trust their agent and/or they are not familiar with the local market. In those cases I often get asked at the end of the home inspection “would you buy this property?” My response is the same every time: “I’m not in a position to advise you whether to buy a house or not. My job is to show you the problems and report those problems to you. What you do with that information is between you and your agent.” I can't possibly answer that question for anyone because I am not privy to all the contract information.  I also recognize some people are less comfortable in dealing with issues contained in a home inspection than others. What one person might shrug off as no problem to correct, someone else may see as difficult to correct. We try to let buyers know the magnitude of the defects, so they are less confused about what the major defects are when they go back to their agents.

So, is the answer to a real estate agents dilemma of keeping the deal alive to hire the least experienced inspector, or, to put the least experienced inspectors on the official referral list?  Isn’t a short list of issues better than a long list?  Not if you want happy clients. In addition to the obvious “fall out” from missed defects, the inexperienced inspector may not be as educated as your buyer on what constitutes a defect.  Buyers are more educated today than ever due to access to online resources. Remember, who you refer is a reflection of who you are.  If you refer only inspectors who you think will not "kill the deal", you can lose the client's (the buyers) trust and respect. You may get the short term result you want, but long term, this can have negative and sometimes disastrous consequences. The answer is to refer home inspectors who have a minimum of five years experience (more is better) and follow a code of ethics and industry standards (like ASHI).

In summary, an agent would do well to try to empathize with their buyer. In other words, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. A more transparent approach will lead to happier clients, better referrals and more long term success.

For more information about me and our company, please click on the link below:

865-453-9965

Friday, December 2, 2016

Why Real Estate Agents Should Refer “ACI” ASHI Inspectors vs. A “Board Certified Master Inspector” From NACHI

I hope to clear up some confusion about what a true certification as a home inspector is versus one that is more “marketing hype”.  As real estate agents, you want to present the most professional image to your clients and the public.  As part of that image, you want to surround yourself with reputable and reliable referral sources who are bonafide experts in their respective fields.  ASHI Home Inspectors are the “Gold Standard” in home inspectors and the “ACI” is the highest level of certification available to home inspectors.  The “Board Certified Master Inspector” certification may sound impressive, but it is little more than a paid for certification.  There are no stringent requirements, only you pay a fee and claim you meet minimal requirements.  The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the only home inspector organization that has a certification that is approved by The National Commission For Certifying Agencies.  This is a recognized third party accrediting association that has accredited ASHI’s profession-leading Certified Inspector Program. ASHI IS THE ONLY ASSOCIATION OF HOME INSPECTORS THAT IS ABLE TO MEET THESE THIRD PARTY VERIFICATION REQUIREMENTS!
There are a lot of good home inspectors in the greater Knoxville, TN area.  All are licensed (or should be) and most belong to some home inspector group or another.  But, please don’t confuse “marketing hype” with true certifications.  Certifications that are easily bought and obtained are meaningless.  Real Estate agents assume some liability for the persons they refer to their clients.  You should dig a little deeper.  Do you want your image associated with persons who are good at “marketing hype”, or, do you want your image associated with the most proficient, professional and respectable home inspectors possible?   More information about the ASHI ACI program is available at www.ashi.org
As an ASHI ACI, former municipal building inspector, former building contractor and SBCCI Code Certified “Chief Building Code Analyst” with over 21 years of experience in home and building inspections, we hope you will choose Accu-Spec Inspection Services for your next home inspection.  But, as a minimum, look for the ASHI seal of approval for your next home inspector, it is the “Gold Standard”.  Call us at 800-511-4880 or just click the link below in order to see our website at smokymountainhomeinspections.com  

How To Stop Squirrels from Chewing a Log Home

My wife and I live in a log home we built in Eastern Tennessee 12 years ago.  About 2 years ago, I had noticed chew marks on the outside corners of my log ends and wandered what animal was doing it and why?  My dog was much too old and not aggressive enough to do this.  Then, one day I heard something chewing on the back deck, looked out, and to my surprise it was a squirrel!  Being a Builder, Home Inspector and Building Inspector in the log home mecca of Sevier County, TN; and just having a nerdy interested in such things, I did some research, asked around, and compiled a strategy to deal with the problem.
I like natural solutions that deal with these type problems because I do not want to harm the environment.  I live here too!  One pest control operator I spoke with said the squirrels are chewing to get at the salt in the wood.  (This makes sense because I used a borate solution on my logs prior to staining to deter wood boring insects.)  So, I decided to try getting a “salt lick” from my local farmer’s supply store.  I placed it in the vicinity of where they were chewing and it seemed to work.  They lost interest in chewing logs for a while, but returned when the salt lick dissolved and disappeared.  If you try this, you should place the “salt lick” in an area of the yard away from your house, but preferably covered from the rain.
Another strategy I discovered was using a mixture of essential oil of peppermint, cayenne pepper and red chili pepper mixed in a sprayer.  Spray the outside of the logs with the mixture.  Squirrels do not like the smell or bitter taste of the peppermint and peppers and will avoid the area. This will deter them for a while, but is not a permanent solution.  
A more permanent solution is to remove vegetation growing in close proximity of your home, live trap the animals and relocate them.  

If we can help you with your home purchase, please contact us at 800-511-4880.  You can get more information about me and our company at smokymountainhomeinspections.com 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Live In Knoxville; Do I Need A Radon Test?October 22nd, 2007
Question:I heard that Knoxville has high levels of radon gas. Is that true? And what is radon gas and how do I know if it’s in our home?
Answer:It’s true that Knoxville does have high levels of Radon. In fact, Knoxville and most of East Tennessee is in either a Zone 1 or Zone 2 which are the highest probability areas for Indoor Radon. See Radon Probability Map at http://www.epa.gov/radon/zonemap.html .
Radon gas is produced from a breakdown of uranium in the soil under your home. Radon gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless. The Surgeon General of the United States has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Approximately 24,000 people die each year from exposure to Radon.
I would not live in a home in Knoxville without having a radon test conducted.
The only way to know if you have elevated Radon levels in your home is to have a Radon test. Please see our website at http://www.smokymountainhomeinspections.com/ for complete details on Radon, Radon Testing and Radon Mitigation.
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Do I Need GFCI Electrical Outlets?October 22nd, 2007
Question:My house was built prior to 1990 and we don’t have GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protected electrical outlets. Should we upgrade the existing outlets?
Answer:Absolutely! Today GFCI electrical outlets are required in all wet areas around the home, i.e., kitchens, and baths, garages, basements and on the exterior of the home. They are an inexpensive way to protect your family from electrocution when using electrical devices around water.
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It Takes My Clothes Too Long To Get Dry In My Clothes Dryer. Any Ideas?October 22nd, 2007
Question: It seems like it takes longer and longer for our clothes dryer to get our clothes dry? Any suggestions?
Answer:My first thought is that the clothes dryer vent needs to be cleaned out. When the vent line gets clogged up with lint it takes a lot longer for your clothes to get dry.
As a matter of fact, if the dryer vent line is clogged up you could actually have a fire. The Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that there are approximately 15,000 clothes dryer fires each year with $97 million worth of damage caused by these fires.
Please, clean out your clothes dryer vent line at least Annually! I saw a good product on the internet the other day for cleaning your clothes dryer vent line. It was called the “Lint Eater” and their web site is www.linteater.com. The unit was priced under $55.00.
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Are Double Key Deadbolt Locks Unsafe?October 22nd, 2007
Question: We have double key deadbolt locks on our doors. Should we replace the double key deadbolt locks with single key deadbolt locks?
Answer:Double key deadbolt locks present a serious safety issue to household occupants in the event of a fire. First, in the event of a fire you won’t be able to find the key. And secondly, in a fire the clear air is no more than eighteen inches above the floor but the lock is typically installed about forty two inches above the floor so you won’t be able to insert the key to open the door.
I would replace all double key deadbolt locks.
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Do The Rubber Hoses On My Washing Machine Need To Be Replaced?October 22nd, 2007
Question: Our clothes washing machine is connected to the hot and cold water supply lines with the black rubber hoses. Should we replace the rubber hoses?
Answer:Yes! One of the best things you can do to minimize the risk of a flood in your home is replace your existing rubber washing machine supply line hoses with the flexible braded metal hoses. The braded metal hoses cost approximately $15 each. That’s the cheapest insurance you will ever purchase!
Here is a well kept secret - The rubber hoses will only break when you’re on vacation.
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How Can I Prevent Wood Rot On The Trim Of My House?October 22nd, 2007
Question: How can I help prevent wood rot on my wood window sills and trim?
Answer:There are three good ways to help prevent wood rot on your wood window sills and trim. The first thing is to keep the bushes and shrubs trimmed back away from the house at least eighteen inches. Second, the window sills and trim need to be kept caulked and painted (check on their condition annually). Finally, the third way to prevent wood rot is to remove the window screens on all of the windows that you don’t use for ventilation. The reason is that metal bottom section of the screen acts like a dam and water ponds on the window sills. As the paint on the window sills deteriorates water seeps through the sill and the wood begins to rot.
The interesting thing is that wood rot occurs more quickly on newer homes than on older homes. The wood on older homes is truly stronger.
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How Do I Know When To Change The Air Filter In My Heating & Cooling System?October 22nd, 2007
Question:How do I know when it’s time to change the filter in my heating and cooling system?
Answer:There are two ways to know when it’s time to change you air filter. First, the standard fiberglass air filters need to be changed once a month. The second way to know when it’s time to change your air filter is to mark the filter when installed with the date, that way you know how long the filter has been installed.  No disposable filter will last longer than 90 days. Indoor air quality is greatly enhanced by replacing your air filters on schedule.
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Is A Programmable Thermostat Worth The Investment?October 22nd, 2007
Question:
I have a standard thermostat for my heating and cooling unit. Should I upgrade to a programmable thermostat?
Answer:Most Definitely!
With a programmable thermostat, you can heat your home at various temperatures throughout the day, allowing the house to be cooler when no one is home or when everyone is asleep. Then you can crank up the heat 30 minutes before it’s really needed, and never feel the difference.
Installing a programmable thermostat shouldn’t set you back more than $150.00 and you can quickly recoup your costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can slash your heating and cooling bills by 10% annually just by turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for eight hours a day.
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Do I Need A Carbon Monixide Detector?October 22nd, 2007
Question: What is Carbon Monoxide and why do I need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
Answer:Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and potentially dangerous gas produced when fuel burns without enough air for complete combustion. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, paleness and cherry red lips and ears.
If symptoms are noticed, it is advised that you immediately open windows and doors to ventilate the home or structure, call 911 and get outside into fresh air. Later, have appliances checked carefully by a qualified heating contractor.
Purchase and install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home and near sleeping areas, in rooms over or near a garage, in the basement or other isolated area, and in rooms where space heaters are used. Detectors that have been verified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and have been manufactured after October 1995 conform to minimum alarm requirements. Those marked UL 2034 or IAS 6–96 have met the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines. Follow the directions for installing and using the detector carefully.
To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: Have your chimney and flue cleaned every year. Get a qualified inspector to check appliances and heating systems each year. Be sure all home appliances have adequate ventilation. Don’t rely on carbon monoxide detectors as a substitute for maintaining appliances, furnaces or chimneys. Be sure burner flames in appliances and heating systems are blue, not orange. Never use a gas range for space heating. Never run an automobile or gasoline engine in an enclosed space. Never use a charcoal grill indoors.

For more information, please call us at 800-511-4880 or go to our website at smokymountainhomeinspections.com