Lawsuits are a fact of life in the Real Estate Industry, and many of them are unwarranted. Too often the real estate firm is held accountable for defects found after the buyer moves into a home. This fact is surprising in light of a recent study by ASHI (The American Society of Home Inspectors) and NAR (The National Association of Realtors), which found that NAR members recommend a home inspection almost 100% of the time.
What could be going wrong?
Basically, not all property inspectors offer the same quality of service. In speaking with top legal counsel of several major real estate firms, HouseMaster found that too often their agents are involved in lawsuits over home defects even though the buyer hired an inspector.
This can occur because the home inspector was either un-insured, un-trained, or otherwise un-qualified, and thus the legal liability fell back on the real estate firm or other service provider. Here are a few things your clients should ask about when interviewing an inspector:
- Errors and Omissions Insurance. If the firm your customer chooses does not have this insurance, you increase the likelihood that you could be left holding the bag should a significant claim arise after the deal has closed.
- Training and On-Going Education. Claims may arise because the inspector is un-informed or un-trained and thus misses a defect. Even in States and Provinces where licensing is required, on-going education is often lacking. And remember, experience does not replace the need for property inspectors to have an on-going source of education and access to technical support.
- Inspection Report Quality. It's vital that the report the home inspector provides to your customer is detailed, easy to understand and professional. The inspector's report should include particulars such as ages (if possible) and makes of the systems in the property, as well as general information and definitions on common concerns. This information should be in addition to detail regarding the condition of each major element of the home.
- Post-Inspection Assistance. This is a very general area, but it is crucial to customer satisfaction, your ability to convert customers into referral sources, and the reduction of liability. What services or communications does your property inspector have with the homebuyer after the inspection? What guidelines or Limited Repair Reimbursement Guarantees are in place to address a defect discovered after the closing?
The solution that can help you increase future business and reduce liability is to educate your customers on the value of a professional property inspection and how to select a quality property inspector. Your local independently owned and operated HouseMaster® office will be happy to discuss the FREE educational tools available through HouseMaster inspectors to accomplish this, or you can simply send your clients to visit with us at www.housemaster.com.