What is a nitpicky home inspection report? A Realtor's view.

By
Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Realty West CalBRE #01458572

I just read a home inspector's blog asking "What is nitpicky?" and thought the answer deserves a blog entry of its own:

  • Being nitpicky has nothing to do with the actual documentation of the condition of the property—it is what it is. it has more to do with how that condition is reported in writing, and the bedside manner of the home inspector.

I use my home inspector because he's educational and extremely knowledgeable yet has a great bedside manner, which is very important to first-time home buyers (FTHB). Even the FTHB will think that a missing screw or a pointed screw at the electric panel is too nitpicky until one educates them about the possible ramifications relating to one of the four D's: disability, death, damage, or destruction. One of the inspectors for the buyers on one of my listings produced a report that went like that:

  1. crack in window in living room
  2. drawer stops missing in kitchen
  3. door knob loose at front entrance
  4. Zinsco electric panel present
  5. sink clogged in bathroom one
  6. stopper missing in bathtub in bathroom two and at all sinks
  7. stucco cracks in exterior walls
  8. trees too close to roof and siding
  9. negative grading at rear

That's all well and good, but I'm a Realtor and don't want to pretend to be a home inspector by interpreting home inspection reports. I understand documenting the condition of the property, but I would have liked it if he could have educated those buyers about what those conditions meant. When that particular home inspector gave a report to the buyers with 72 items like that, they moved on to a different house. I, of course, knew what all of those meant, but is the buyer going to listen to the listing agent? Probably not.

I have access to over 100 home inspection reports from different companies, although half of them are no longer in business. When a Client wants to use someone other than my recommendation, I simply pull out a copy of the reports for my preferred inspector and for their choice. Invariably they thank me for my guidance and choose my preferred inspector.

See my blog entry from a couple of weeks ago about why I refer one inspector only, and only one.

In conclusion, I'll repeat

  • Being nitpicky has nothing to do with the actual documentation of the condition of the property-it is what it is. it has more to do with how that condition is reported in writing, and the bedside manner of the home inspector.

There's only so much land on Earth, so even if the property is a haunted house, there will be someone willing to buy it.

Haunted house

Home inspectors should refrain from commenting, "Why are you buying this?" or "You should run from this house" and similar comments. There is just no way that a home inspector, after spending just a few hours with the buyer, could possibly know why they are buying a property.

I'll come to home inspectors defense with that same statement, though. There is just no way that a home inspector, after spending just a few hours with the buyer, could possibly know enough about the buyer to know exactly what to put into a home inspection report that would cause the buyer to cancel the transaction. Only the buyer knows why s/he is canceling the transaction, and sometimes it's not even related to the home inspection report.

I have met many home inspectors who believe that they are God's gift to the real estate transaction, and they act that way, too. Fortunately, in this market, about 75% of them are already out of business. No wonder.

Fortunately for all concerned, the quality and choices of home inspection software for home inspectors is getting much better, but there are still those home inspectors here in my area who use the checklist carbon report, and sometimes it is virtual he!! to try to decipher their handwriting, especially if one is "lucky enough" to get that fourth carbon copy and needs to read something off of it six months down the road (enter sarcasm emoticon-we need emoticons, ActiveRain!).

Visit my other helpful blogs (you can get all your daily comments in right here, right now!). You can find quick links to all of them by using the widget just under my picture at the upper right.

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the robot to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Groups:
Everything California
Realtors®
Southern California Real Estate Forum
Tags:
home inspection
home inspector
inspection
inspector

Comments 72 New Comment

Anonymous
Post a Comment
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the lock to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Rainmaker
1,084,017
Jim Frimmer
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
HomeSmart Realty West

Hey, Eric.

If there isn't $10,000 worth of foundation work, then they very likely would "argue about $500.00 worth of blinds." The presence of absence of one doesn't preclude the presence or absence of the other, and if the environment is quite sunny all the time, like it is here, and the buyer's dad and four brothers are all structural engineers and foundation repair professionals, they certainly could argue about the blinds rather than the foundation work. I learned not to presume what my Clients are or are not willing to argue about because I don't know everything there is to know about them, their past experience, the experience of friends and family, etc. I just like to have a home inspector who documents as much as possible and doesn't exclude something simply because it's not necessarily standard, or isn't traditionally included in the home inspection, or isn't within standards of practice, or whatever. Provide the Client with what the Client needs or wants and let him decide what he wants to argue about.

In my neck of the woods, window treatments are not considered "paint and decorative items."

The inspector I use offers many different service levels, and he's had all of them taken up by various Clients. It seems people moving here from those states with home inspection laws and licensing like his PREMIUM and TECH inspections.

September 21, 2008 09:12 PM
Rainer
7,085
Eric Van De Ven
Magnum Inspections Inc

I am well aware of what your "preferred inspector" does and the services he offers. I used to offer the exact same thing,10 years ago. Over the years, I have refined my inspecting to what my Clients want while still exceeding all of the organizations Sops.

In this neck of the woods, I have never seen an inspection report with defective window treatments or event the mention of them.

I was using the foundation issue as an example. As you can see by the sample report, there are very few homes, especially now with the foreclosure issues, where window treatments would be the only thing wrong.

As you said, it would be easy to check them as I have to open them to get to the windows. I may have run into 15 blinds that didn't work in almost 20 years. I can't recall if ANY of them were the expensive ones you referred to. The majority of them were the garden variety or K Mart versions, that were covered with some type of "gook" which would probably necessitate replacement as opposed to cleaning.

I looked at the title of this thread and to me, this very discussion is nit-picking!

September 22, 2008 04:38 AM
Rainmaker
1,084,017
Jim Frimmer
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
HomeSmart Realty West

Hey, Eric.

What is nitpicky to one is not necessarily nitpicky to another, and what might be considered major to one is not major to another.

I'm familiar with one Realtor buying a home for herself that had, according to her three quotes, either $17,000, $23,000, or $53,000 of foundation repairs needed. That wasn't major to her because her whole immediate family was composed of engineers, contractors, and the like. She, however, did have an issue on what might be considered minor things because she and her family would have to hire someone to repair those items.

I'm familiar with another situation where the only thing "wrong" in the 2-year-old house was that all the screen doors and windows were missing. They canceled the purchase contract based on that. It's a longer story, and they had a legitimate reason for canceling, but nonetheless. I've just learned to get as much information as possible to inform my Clients appropriately and let them decide what is nitpicky, minor, major, etc. I'm fortunate that I refer a home inspector who has the ability and the desire to do that.

September 22, 2008 09:27 AM
Anonymous #73
Anonymous
Danny

Wow, what a great blog and good discussion. I believe most of this, as most anything in life, boils down to the inspector's ability to communicate and connect with the individuals involved.

Sandy said, A good quality for a home inspector to have is to be able to put things into proper pespective. Clearly, a slow draining sink is not the same as a leaky water pipe inside the wall.

Let me create another scenario. This "slowdrain" is not mentioned because you think it is nitpicky. The sale goes thru, and it is found that a tree root has grown thru the main drain and now the cost to repair is in the thousands. Who is the buyer going to come after? You, the realtor? Probably not. By the way, the "leaky water pipe inside the wall, may be an easier fix!

Pick a good inspector that can communicate well regarding ALL of his findings, protecting the buyer, you the realtor and him/herself as the inspector.

Now everybody go outside and PLAY!

Danny

 

 

June 30, 2009 10:31 PM
Rainer
89,164
David Salvato
David Home Inspection Service Home Inspector San Bernardino

This is the first time I spent 30 min reading a blog. Point, counter point that's what make this great. And why freedom of speech makes me proud to be an AMERICAN! And go USC' lol

September 19, 2009 12:08 PM
Anonymous
Post a Comment
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the airplane to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Rainmaker
1,084,017

Jim Frimmer

Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
Ask me a question
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the tshirt to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase: