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Greg Johns WIN Cookeville

Beating the Minimal Standards


We of WIN Home Inspection, Cookeville, often come up against other home inspectors who proclaim, “I don’t want to ruin a sale over something minor.” This proclamation stems from a very large, yet quiet, systemic issue within the home inspection industry – home inspectors have been bred to believe that their function is to assist in the sale of a home, or at least minimally, assist the Realtors in this same function.

Now, some home inspectors may get bent out of shape by that previous statement. But, the truth is home inspectors are people too. They have families. They need food and shelter. In order to get those things, they have to be in the good graces of at least some Realtors and/or real estate offices. And, you don’t stay in the good graces of many Realtors if their clients don’t buy the home after the home inspection. After all, Realtors are people too. They have families.

Inspection Standards Are Minimal Standards

And so, from this vein of thought comes standards for ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) and InterNACHI (International Association of Home Inspectors), as well as standards adopted by the states that have licensing requirements for home inspectors (full disclosure – I am a member of InterNACHI and a licensed home inspector in Tennessee). And these standards seek to do two things, one intentionally and one not so much: Firstly, standards keep the home inspector “safe” from the consumer looking to vindictively play in the legal system, as well as provide a level of expectation for consumer protection. Unfortunately, the second and unintentional consequence of these standards is that they are the “minimal” standards. Once everyone is abiding by the minimal standards, that is what becomes the norm (we could have a similar conversation regarding the construction industry in our region and building practices). Which means, should you desire to provide an elevated level of service and home inspection for a home buyer, you are deviating from the norm. To provide more than minimal is to somehow be a thorn in the side of Realtors because more thorough reporting often provides the client more context to re-consider the investment.

We Don't Believe In Minimal For Our Clients

So, from my perspective, this creates a problem. We at WIN Home Inspection provide a very intelligent, thorough, and 100% honest report of the conditions of a home. We don’t try to “soften” an issue. We don’t omit an item from the report because it may only cost $15 to address. Our job is to be a layer of consumer protection, to protect the value of our client’s investment dollar. Now, a good bit of conversation goes along with such comprehensive reporting, but sometimes the client doesn’t end up purchasing that home (they usually purchase a home, eventually). The information we provide affords them the ability to act as empowered consumers/investors and determine whether the sales price for the home actually matches up to the value of their money – value that is inherent by the amount of time and effort taken in acquiring said money.

The Realtors that routinely recommend us are ALSO the Realtors who get what it is we do differently as home inspectors and see the value we add to the services they provide their clients. As a consumer, the minimal is NOT what I shop for and not what I accept. As a business owner, the minimal is NOT what I choose to provide my clients. Unfortunately, there are many Realtors who do not see eye-to-eye with us. There are plenty within our middle TN region that avoid us because they say we “ruin deals,” or “caused their seller to lose the sale.”

So What's To Say?

My answer is simple: If your client is the buyer, you should want your client to be happy and comfortable with their decision. If they don’t buy that home, then find them another and they will buy it and you will still get paid. That’s your job for which you get paid upwards of 3% of the sales price. Your client will value your time and commitment to them.

If your client is the seller, have them perform a pre-listing inspection so they are aware of all issues prior to listing. Deficiencies can be addressed, sales price can be appropriately set, and full disclosure can occur with an interested buyer once under contract. This keeps the seller in the “power” position and limits the buyer’s ability to further negotiation the sales price (or walk away) after a home inspection. In our region, Realtors avoid pre-listing inspections like the plague because it is well above those minimal standards. 

We perform more than the minimal standards and think Realtors should, too, for clients.