Some inspectors are deal killers, pure and simple. Afraid of liability, they assail the smallest shortcomings, and while the information they dispense may be credible, even accurate, it often exaggerates risk or lacks a real market perspective that less experienced, or unprepared agents can neither temper nor support. They may even think their role is to provide the buyer's agent with additional negotiation buckshot.
Oh yeah and some inspectors are just plain ol' wrong. One, noting the steep peak of a finished attic ceiling, decried the lack of a specific structural member. Fortunately, the seller was able to produce photos of the space whilst unfinished, its framing, and the plainly visible, structural element (in this case, collar ties).
I've seen all types of inspectors on the old house trail: soft ball artists who wouldn't note dry rot if they stepped through a hole in the floor, suburban goofballs who've never seen a clawfoot tub and run from masonry like a centerfielder after a shallow pop fly, the editorialists who pepper in nasty asides about the neighborhood and its family unworthiness. Some impose a new home standard on 100 year old product, foster an innate hostility towards the old, and a false hierarchy that champions the new. Old systems, for example, are often taken to task, but seldom is dense, old-growth, full dimension framing celebrated--though it should be.
Some brokerages discourage their agents from recommending inspectors, preferring the client pick their own (another liability stopper). Most buyers have neither the tools, nor the experience to differentiate or vet inspectors properly, often asking for random referrals or making blind selections from an on-line database.
Some buyers mistakenly tab contractors, salespeople who shamelessly hawk their product or service, often at usurious rates. A foundation contractor once sought to manipulate a buyer with a haggard Clint Eastwood line, "Do you feel lucky?" Often when cornered, or challenged, they'll offer discountingly, "it's only my opinion." Naturally, but to an besieged buyer it's frequently received as scripture.
Regarding modus operandi, I prefer those who generate a hard copy report on-site, rather than the delayed, everyone on pins and needles, e-mailers who take days to respond. I also prefer inspectors who provide a verbal summation, working through the printed report, fielding questions, even those unrelated. This is especially valuable because many inspectors are not particularly good writers, organize material awkwardly, or distinguish built states without criterion.
There's plenty of capable inspectors of course, to deliver determinations good and bad. I've a few regulars and I often share resources and recommendations with other area specialists. Mostly, I try to help clients identify condition issues before the offer writing phase, so the physical inspection is less about startling revelation and more about helpful direction.
Labels: Real Estate Rants