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Setting Expectations of the Inspection Process

Since the inception of our business in 2010, it has become clear that the average consumer, and to a lesser degree some real estate professionals, lack a thorough understanding of what a home inspection is and what it isn’t – even when they may have been through the home inspection process in the past. This is in no way an indictment of either as the lack of understanding is quite understandable and the solution is evident. We, as an industry, must do a better job of setting the expectations for the consumer and real estate professionals alike.

Setting these expectations should not be a difficult task. The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) has already done the work of setting these expectations through use of the Preamble (pages 1 and 2) of the Property Inspection Report Form, which was recently revised to be more straightforward, to provide greater clarity to an inspector’s client regarding an inspector’s duties while performing an inspection, and to better explain what the client should expect from the inspection and inspection report. It’s our duty to be the messenger and share this information in an easy-to-understand manner.

PURPOSE OF INSPECTION

 
A real estate inspection is a visual survey of a structure and a basic performance evaluation of the systems and components of a building. It provides information regarding the general condition of a residence at the time the inspection was conducted. It is important that you carefully read ALL of this information. Ask the inspector to clarify any items or comments that are unclear.

The full TREC definition of an inspection can be found here: §535.227 Standards of Practice: General Provisions(a)Scope(3)

RELATED INFO: Paragraph 7 in both the ONE TO FOUR FAMILY RESIDENTIAL CONTRACT (RESALE) Form 20-16 and the RESIDENTIAL CONDOMINIUM CONTRACT (RESALE) Form 30-15 discuss the ACCESS, INSPECTIONS AND UTILITIES (Section A) as well as the COMPLETION OF REPAIRS AND TREATMENTS (Section F).

When a buyer opts to have an inspection performed and the inspection identifies deficiencies, it doesn’t mean a potential buyer should or shouldn’t purchase the home, only that they will know in advance what to expect. However, when a deficiency is reported, it is the client’s responsibility to obtain further evaluations and/or cost estimates from qualified service professionals prior to the expiration of any time limitations such as option periods. And while there is no requirement for a seller to make repairs, an effort to negotiate the completion of repairs can potentially be made between the parties of the contract.

REPORT LIMITATIONS

 
This report is provided for the benefit of the named client and is based on observations made by the named inspector on the date the inspection was performed (indicated above).
ONLY those items specifically noted as being inspected on the report were inspected.
This inspection IS NOT:

  • a technically exhaustive inspection of the structure, its systems, or its components and may not reveal all deficiencies;
  • an inspection to verify compliance with any building codes;
  • an inspection to verify compliance with manufacturer’s installation instructions for any system or component and DOES NOT imply insurability or warrantability of the structure or its components.


 
Here we can reflect to where we discussed the role of the Standards which provide a balance between all the parties. Here are a few of the reasons why the inspection IS NOT technically exhaustive and may not reveal all deficiencies:

  • Inspectors are generalists and not required to use specialized equipment or procedures.
  • Care must be taken not to use invasive procedures or damage the seller’s property.
  • Consideration for inspector safety
  • The inspection only covers those items that are present, visible, and accessible at the time of inspection.

 

The inspection report is NOT a code compliance inspection.

While some of the Standards may be based on current codes it is an important reminder that it is not a code inspection, and no action is required on any findings.
 

The inspection report does NOT verify manufacturer compliance and does NOT imply insurability or warrantability.

Inspectors are generalists and not trained in all the various installation instructions of systems and appliances. Additionally, the findings, whatever they may be, do not guarantee that an insurance provider will extend coverage on the property or that any
system or appliance will be covered under any type of warranty.
 

An inspection is not meant to guarantee the condition of a home in the future.

A home inspection is a risk reduction tool designed to reflect, as accurately as possible, the visible condition of the home and represents a broad and sweeping stroke as to the condition of the major systems and components of the property at the time of the inspection.
 

Creating realistic expectations for your client

A large part of the real estate professional’s role as well as that of the home inspector is to help manage the expectations of the client. This is especially true when a client has never dealt with the home inspection process before. Explaining the limitations of a home inspection will help develop realistic expectations concerning the inspection report, and what lies beyond the scope of the inspection. Creating realistic expectations in a client’s mind helps prevent misunderstandings and promotes smooth transactions.

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