Should a Homebuyer Hire a Home Inspector Recommended by an Agent?
So you’ve found the perfect house, Good neighborhood, Price is right, looks well maintained, looks good on the surface, smells good, nice floor plan, so you make an offer contingent on a home inspection and the seller accepts your offer. WooHoo! But wait, now comes the next challenge. This is all hinged on finding a good thorough, qualified, credible Home Inspector that will come in and go to bat for you. Where will you find such a professional. You’ve heard all those horror stories about the fly-by-night home inspectors who down played or completely missed major problems. “Not to worry” your agents says, I have a list of inspectors right here for you to choose from. It’s common for real estate agents to recommend several inspectors that buyers could hire. But should you hire those inspectors on their “preferred list” ?
The quick and simple reflex answer is NO! But wait, as a 23 year veteran home inspector in Hampton roads Virginia, I can tell you it’s notquite that simple. It really comes down to the quality and integrity of the agent making that referral.
It is not surprising that many home buyers have doubts about hiring a home inspector recommended by their agents.
To them, they are questioning the integrity and honesty of such home inspectors. The point of their concern is that agents naturally want to sell the house because their commissions depend on it. They don’t want any negative “deal killer” home inspector screwing with their paycheck so they recommend inspectors that will “go easy” on the inspection.
So is that a reason for agents to enter into a collusion agreement with home inspectors? Yes, it happens. In fact some agencies require inspectors to “sponsor” (pay money) to get on a preferred vendors list. But it’s not as wide spread as you might think. At least not in my experience in the Hampton Roads home inspection market. In a highly competitive market it is unlikely that established, professional agents will collude just to make sure the home inspection report would be favorable to make the home sale. It’s possible, and as ive said, does happen amongst unscrupulous agents and shady home inspectors. But these are the minority. Established, reputable full time agents and inspectors are not going to risk their reputation on such collusion. In fact they would not have become reputable in the first place if they engaged in these practices.
The real estate or property sector is a dynamic industry where only about 10% of agents are able to sell homes. They even account for up to 90% of total home sales. The rest of the agents may not be qualified enough, or may lack first-hand experiences to determine which inspectors are qualified and reliable. Thus, you should trust your agent if he or she has been in the business for many years and has established a good reputation. They don’t need to “nail the sale” and most likely are not going to risk their reputation. Besides, if worse comes to worse, it’s not like there aren’t any other houses on the market these days.
Take note that most buyers agents are acting on the best interest of their buyers and as such are focused on good representation. Reputable agents have been in the business for a while and have built a network of “like minded” professional contacts to surround themselves with and who will extend their professionalism to their client. This includes referring a professional, competent home inspector.
Reputable agents want a good home inspection for their client that will provide full disclosure because they know it can come back to bite them if things are missed and it comes out after closing. Good agents also do not want to get the blame if there are safety, security, and maintenance issues missed by a slack home inspector. For this reason they would recommend only home inspectors whom they think would be capable and reliable to do the job well. Just like a bad inspector can hurt their reputation, a good inspector protects their reputation by protecting their client. In fact part of representing their clients best interest is giving them the names of reputable home inspectors because there are more than a few incompetent, negligent home inspectors out there, especially in Virginia where there is no state regulation and licensing requirements.
Experienced and professional agents know how to deal with the findings or defects disclosed in a propert inspection report by advising their client of their options and then representing them on whatever option they choose to proceed with whether it be negotiating repairs or withdrawing from the contract.
It’s been my experience that home inspectors recommended are of the agents’ same caliber. If you feel like youir agent is honest, professional and has represented your best interest then they probably won’t steer you wrong on their home inspector referrals.
So, should you hire a home inspector recommended by your agent?
It really depends on the reputation of your agent. But in the end the decision of who you use as your home inspector is all up to you.