Many moons ago when I was a high school educator, a popular expression with us teachers was, “They will walk through the doors of your expectations”.
Home buyers’ expectations are shaped by the people, including agents, lenders and home inspectors that they are working with during the home buying process. If an agent tells their client, “Your home inspection will detail each and every imperfections of the house”, then the buyer expects to have an extensive list of problems. They may also may expect to have that list fully addressed before they take possession. This can be a recipe for complications.
Describing a home inspection as a way to protect against major structural and safety concerns is a much better and honest way of setting expectations for what a home inspection is.
I like to point out to my clients that virtually every home has minor irregularities and maintenance needs, “Even mine, just ask my wife.” What we are trying to do is to help the client focus on the big picture, the true value of the home, and not to get caught up with incidentals. We all know of sales that went south due to m
inor issues that caused conflict between the buyer and seller.
During a recent inspection on a 30 year old house there were some 30 year old house type maintenance issues, including a toilet that needed a new wax ring, and a dishwasher that was noisy. There were also some safety items including a jumper wire present at each outlet providing a false ground. A gas fireplace recently had a new damper installed at the top of the chimney which sealed very tightly when pulled shut with the chain that hangs down the inside of the chimney. While this is a good design for a wood burning fireplace, it is a real safety concern when gas is introduced (if the gas is accidentally left on or has even a minor leak, the chimney would fill with gas and literally create a bomb). After the walkthrough with the client, the minor maintenance issues were major sticking points for them. If there expectations prior to the inspection were to focus on the safety concerns they would have had an easier time doing that.
I suggest being honest with buyers by telling them maintenance is a part of home ownership. What the inspection is for is to help find any major structural or safety items. This information will help a buyer to make good decisions. Setting the proper expectations of what a home inspection is will help more houses sell and keep clients protected.
By Steve Vacha