One of the facets of the real estate business that generated itself during my years as a Texas real estate broker was the advent of the licensed professional home inspector.
It was such a positive step because it provided a more credible source of home structure and mechanical evaluations than had been available before. And it gave everyone in a real estate transaction -- buyer, seller and agents -- a state regulated source for those answers.
But as the inspection profession and its use have evolved, it has often times caused more problems than it has solved, and many otherwise good and solid deals have been lost, the result of simply overbearing inspection reports, and their misuse by buyers.
In general, a professional inspector's charge is to locate and enumerate the current substandard parts of a home's construction and its plumbing and mechanical parts. It is not to point out chipped paint, squeaking doors, stained carpet and the like.
What the untrained eye could see, it should be reasoned, was or should have been taken into account when the buyer submitted his contract. The resulting contract should either point out that those items will be repaired by the seller prior to closing, or the buyer makes an adjustment in his offering price to cover taking those parts " as-is".
It is also not the inspector's charge to opine how structural and mechanical errors should be resolved. His job is only to list the items and suggest why they should be evaluated by contractors licensed in those fields. He should make it clear that he is not (in most cases) a substitute for the eye and advice of, say, a licensed electrician.
It seems to me that if the inspector is not a licensed structural engineer, master plumber, etc., and further, that it would be illegal for him to make the repairs himself, then the state obviously does not have confidence in his ability to do anything other than point out what he feels is worthy of further evaluation by a professional.
What has developed is a profession with members who all but run wild when they receive an inspection assignment, often times their oral and written reports are so full of nonsense that as a minimum, hundreds of dollars are spent to find out that the inspector was incorrect, and as maximum, the deal is not consummated. The inspector does not share in the responsibility for the loss.
Realtors should explain to their clients what comprises the scope of the inspector's training and what he is supposed to evaluate and report on. We should remind our clients that prior to making their offer and retaining an inspector, they are expected to make adjustments in their offer for anything that the naked, untrained eye should see.
And that they must take into consideration that the seller and his Realtor also tried to make fair adjustments for those deficiencies when they determined the price the property would be offered for sale.
There is a time-tested Jewish rule that offers good advice here: At a good dinner, there must be something on the table for everyone. A buyer should not use the inspector's report to attempt to take unfair advantage of the seller. Instead, it should be used exactly for what it was designed to be -- a manner for knowing about, thus resolving those building issues that neither the seller and his agent or the buyer and his agent knew about prior to the inspection.
BILL CHERRY, REALTORS
DALLAS - HIGHLAND PARK