Worried about house inspector incentives

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plnelson
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Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by plnelson »

We're buying a house for > $1.2 million in New England. It needs some TLC but we're not expert enough to assess whether it might need more than basic TLC, so we want a home inspection. Our real estate agent (our "buyer's agent" - don't get me started on that concept) has recommended an inspector but we're not stupid enough to use an inspector who depends on recommendations from someone who has that large a financial incentive for no show-stopper problems to be found.

So then the question is how do we find a good inspector who's highly incentivized to find problems, and where there's no conflict of interest based on maintaining a good relationship with local real estate agents? Would it be unethical to offer him a bonus (in writing) if he finds a show-stopper problem?
silverlitegs
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by silverlitegs »

You might also want to consider hiring experts in area. Plumbing, structure, etc
inverter
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by inverter »

Why don't you hire a general contractor who would help fix the problems, or pay your own inspector? Agreed on misaligned incentives.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by adamthesmythe »

Unless things have changed OP has a very limited time in which to find and qualify his inspector(s).

Good luck on finding a contractor who answers the phone let alone one who will be available for a one-off inspection in the next week or two.

Personally I am OK with an inspector chosen from the buying agent's list. BUT I know a little bit about houses and I would figure on being there during the inspection and asking questions as needed.
Teague
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by Teague »

I hired an inspector from far enough away that the agent and inspector had never met before, and likely never would again.
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YeahBuddy
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by YeahBuddy »

Back when we were buying a home, I still worked for Home Depot and an assistant store manager recommended one of the best home inspection companies in the area. I was still not happy with their inspection/results. They were too big and too worried about being held liable for things to really tell me what was going on. (just my crude take on it). Go with a smaller, highly rated inspector.

And as far as your agent's recommendation... No chance a buyers agent will work with an inspector that finds multiple problems with the properties they are selling. Hire someone else. My good friend became a home inspector and he's not incentivized one way or the other. It's best to find someone like this. He's out of Gloucester, MA. Also, if you're looking for an expert in indoor air quality, Jeff May is in Tyngsborough and he's a legend.

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plnelson
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by plnelson »

inverter wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 6:06 pm Why don't you hire a general contractor who would help fix the problems, or pay your own inspector? Agreed on misaligned incentives.
We are hiring our own inspector. That's usually how it's done around here. But house inspectors get most of their referrals from real-estate agents, so they like to stay on their good side, and finding something that squirrels a $1.2 million deal isn't the best way to do that.

Regarding hiring a specialist - we will ALSO be hiring a specialist for the roof since we plan to put solar panels on it.

We have to work fast because this is a super hot real-estate market so the seller wants the inspection done in a week. I'm impressed they would accept an inspection at all. I just sold my house a mile away and had ELEVEN qualified offers in 3 days, all over asking, and accepted one $60K over asking. Almost all of them,including the one I accepted, waived inspection.

(...and no I'm in no hurry to buy - I have another house to live in. My GF and I put her house, my (former) house, and this new one under a real-estate trust)
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by RickBoglehead »

IMO, anyone waiving a home inspection is foolish.
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plnelson
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by plnelson »

YeahBuddy wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 6:39 pm Back when we were buying a home, I still worked for Home Depot and an assistant store manager recommended one of the best home inspection companies in the area. I was still not happy with their inspection/results. They were too big and too worried about being held liable for things to really tell me what was going on. (just my crude take on it). Go with a smaller, highly rated inspector.

And as far as your agent's recommendation... No chance a buyers agent will work with an inspector that finds multiple problems with the properties they are selling. Hire someone else. My good friend became a home inspector and he's not incentivized one way or the other. It's best to find someone like this. He's out of Gloucester, MA. Also, if you're looking for an expert in indoor air quality, Jeff May is in Tyngsborough and he's a legend.

Best!
I worked with Jeff May at the house I just sold! He's great!
Do you think your friend in Gloucester would come down to Chelmsford?
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by YeahBuddy »

plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 6:50 pm
YeahBuddy wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 6:39 pm Back when we were buying a home, I still worked for Home Depot and an assistant store manager recommended one of the best home inspection companies in the area. I was still not happy with their inspection/results. They were too big and too worried about being held liable for things to really tell me what was going on. (just my crude take on it). Go with a smaller, highly rated inspector.

And as far as your agent's recommendation... No chance a buyers agent will work with an inspector that finds multiple problems with the properties they are selling. Hire someone else. My good friend became a home inspector and he's not incentivized one way or the other. It's best to find someone like this. He's out of Gloucester, MA. Also, if you're looking for an expert in indoor air quality, Jeff May is in Tyngsborough and he's a legend.

Best!
I worked with Jeff May at the house I just sold! He's great!
Do you think your friend in Gloucester would come down to Chelmsford?

I can ask him. Check your PMs.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by London »

RickBoglehead wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 6:47 pm IMO, anyone waiving a home inspection is foolish.
Most home inspections are of very limited value. Major components are either not covered or looked at on a cursory level. Caveats are many.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by hand »

plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:25 pm
So then the question is how do we find a good inspector who's highly incentivized to find problems.
I'd look for an inspector who is willing to assume liability for inspectible issues that are missed during inspection. Unfortunately, the reality is that most, if not all, inspectors limit their liability to the cost of the inspection so their risk and incentive is greatly limited.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by J295 »

Incentives abound in many transactional relationships (doctor, lawyer, accountant, banker, employer, employee, etc). I’m comfortable working with a person of integrity regardless of inherent incentives.

Given your concern about incentives, however, you might consider paying above market rate to try and promptly get vendors to get major items inspected such as structure, roof, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, sprinkler system, etc. Do this in addition to the home inspection, and consider a home warranty. Do your own walk-through, testing faucets, lights, dishwasher, HVAC, garage door opener, etc. as best you can, etc. That’s about as belt and suspenders as you can reasonably get. It’s a preowned home… even with good inspections, I would suspect to find a few things once I moved in. Caveat emptor is part of the deal.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by billc23 »

Check your PM.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by muffins14 »

plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:25 pm Would it be unethical to offer him a bonus (in writing) if he finds a show-stopper problem?
First, do you want to buy the house or not?

Second, having bought recently I think inspections are sort of a waste of time and money.

They will find the show-stoppers like “there is a hole in the roof and I see the sky” or maybe some kind of wildly unsafe wiring that is visible, but they aren’t going to rip up the floor to find of any of the 50 pipes have a leak, and then put it back together for you.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by Sandtrap »

plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:25 pm We're buying a house for > $1.2 million in New England. It needs some TLC but we're not expert enough to assess whether it might need more than basic TLC, so we want a home inspection. Our real estate agent (our "buyer's agent" - don't get me started on that concept) has recommended an inspector but we're not stupid enough to use an inspector who depends on recommendations from someone who has that large a financial incentive for no show-stopper problems to be found.

So then the question is how do we find a good inspector who's highly incentivized to find problems, and where there's no conflict of interest based on maintaining a good relationship with local real estate agents? None exist per se. Would it be unethical to offer him a bonus (in writing) if he finds a show-stopper problem?
A "certified home inspector" might not have much or zero construction experience before taking the "certified home inspector" course and getting a license, then hooking up with local realtors to earn income. This includes all of the forms and so forth needed to "get into the "home inspection business".

Suggest calling a reputable licensed General Contractor in your area to give you a quote for work that needs to be done. Come and inspect your home. Either it will be at no charge or a flat fee. Do not use a handyman, helpful harry, or "used to be a contractor but don't need the license" but have a pickup truck and a dog, type.

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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by rkhusky »

We were happy with the inspectors our realtor recommended. Home inspector did a professional radon test, thermal test showing insulation levels, and provided us with an 70-page document showing all the things that didn’t meet code and which we might want to fix. Other inspectors did septic and well water tests. If you have a good realtor, they will have a list of good inspectors. Shoddy inspections make them look bad and can lead to poor reviews.
Last edited by rkhusky on Mon May 13, 2024 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
Rocky Mtn Man
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by Rocky Mtn Man »

My experience selling a house is the opposite. The "inspector" found "problems" that turned out to be nothing when the tradesmen came out to followup.

The inspector is incentivized to write something in his/her report.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by nisiprius »

Beats me. We bought an old (1920s) house in 2022. We shrugged and assumed that the buyer's agent was, in fact, representing our interest (although obviously with a self-interest in having a sale take place). She gave us a list of three home inspectors while emphasizing that we could use any we wanted. We used one she suggested. The report was 53 pages long and began with a "summary" noting that the chimney needed immediate repair, the bathroom fan exhausted into the attic, and several other things. The full report picked up lots of things, serious and less serious ("the shower diverter mechanism is not functioning properly," "some window(s) are older," "Garbage disposal was louder than anticipated and vibrated more than expected.")

My impression is that this inspector was straining to make certain that he picked up absolutely everything, no matter how small.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by Calhoon »

When we were buying our house we made sure to get an impartial inspector. He was recommended by my boss. Turned out that the inspector and the realtor knew each other so well it must've been awkward for them not to hug when they saw each other at the inspection.

A year after we moved in we needed to replace a section of the roof and the siding around the chimney. The thing was during the inspection I was looking over his shoulder and asked what the big black discoloration was on the roof decking. Can't remember what he said but he assured me it was nothing. That nothing was over 10k (back in 2002).

I'm not sure if the inspector was incompetent or if he conveniently overlooked a red flag so as not to sink the sale.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by makeitcount »

I can see the potential conflict of interest, but if I were the inspector I would worry about being out of a job soon if I ignored substantial problems in lieu of gaining future referrals. Word would eventually get out about the inspector not being worth his/her salt.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by retired@50 »

silverlitegs wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:59 pm You might also want to consider hiring experts in area. Plumbing, structure, etc
+ 1 to the idea above...

Inspectors may not be "expert" in any particular area and their findings may simply suggest that you bring in an expert in plumbing, HVAC, etc.

Regards,
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by bendix »

plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:25 pm We're buying a house for > $1.2 million in New England. It needs some TLC but we're not expert enough to assess whether it might need more than basic TLC, so we want a home inspection. Our real estate agent (our "buyer's agent" - don't get me started on that concept) has recommended an inspector but we're not stupid enough to use an inspector who depends on recommendations from someone who has that large a financial incentive for no show-stopper problems to be found.

So then the question is how do we find a good inspector who's highly incentivized to find problems, and where there's no conflict of interest based on maintaining a good relationship with local real estate agents? Would it be unethical to offer him a bonus (in writing) if he finds a show-stopper problem?
You are a smarter man than I am. I was stupid enough to go with the realtor recommended inspector and am convinced today that this was a lapse of judment that cost me a couple of ten-thousand Dollars. A while later I hired an independent inspector and to my surprise the guy was equally blind. Some of these tests they´re doing, e.g. for mold, are very easy to manipulate and basically depend on the honesty of the seller not to mess with the testing setup.

I would suggest to hire people specialized in certain areas, e.g. foundation and/or basement (!!), windows, roof, make sure they go into the attic and so on. House inspectors in general are painfully useless in my experience.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by Raspberry-503 »

Finding an inspector that is willing to be held liable for what he misses is really though. Why would he/she if they get enough business without that hassle?
Find someone with online recommendations that show they inspector found a number of real problems. Ask the inspector for a sample report, is it a single page checklist or many pages showing thoroughness? Last one I hired showed a dozen-ish page sample that showed every area he inspected (crawled in the crawl space, looked around the attic, climbed on the roof, tested baseboards for moisture...). I specifically was looking for Radon system inspection, testing/inspecting the sump pump and checking attic venting in the sample report, because I knew those are common problems in our area. I was happy to see that their report also included cameras down the heating ducts (the pics looked bad to me but they said they were to be expected and that the seller was not liable for cleaning before selling) and included moisture readings on the floors in the bathrooms etc...
So reading a sample report sold me on that inspector.

Every inspector I've ever dealt with "smelled gas" somewhere around the furnace or the meter, and contractors hired as a result of an inspection results never found an issue. I think it's a way for the inspector CYA.

Being in a hurry sucks, and some inspection is better than no inspection. Share your worries with the inspector, e.g. how many years left in the roof and can it withstand the weight of solar panels, etc...)
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by Normchad »

London wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 6:12 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 6:47 pm IMO, anyone waiving a home inspection is foolish.
Most home inspections are of very limited value. Major components are either not covered or looked at on a cursory level. Caveats are many.
Certainly not true in my experience. My last inspection was a 90 page PDF, extremely detailed and filled with color photos of everything.

It’s true that they can’t inspect everything. They don’t go n the roof, or open walls, etc. but a good inspector will verify HVAC is performing within spec, verify drains are working, quickly verify electrical,outlets, and on and on and on. Mine checked moisture levels in the crawlspace. Had a CO sniffer for the furnace and hot water heater, etc. Reported the manufacture dates of HVAC components.

I know a lot about this stuff, and I found it very good. Most buyers know next to nothing. And I agree anybody who waives the Inspection is being foolish.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by nyclon »

plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:25 pm We're buying a house for > $1.2 million in New England. It needs some TLC but we're not expert enough to assess whether it might need more than basic TLC, so we want a home inspection. Our real estate agent (our "buyer's agent" - don't get me started on that concept) has recommended an inspector but we're not stupid enough to use an inspector who depends on recommendations from someone who has that large a financial incentive for no show-stopper problems to be found.

So then the question is how do we find a good inspector who's highly incentivized to find problems, and where there's no conflict of interest based on maintaining a good relationship with local real estate agents? Would it be unethical to offer him a bonus (in writing) if he finds a show-stopper problem?
Try https://www.inspectify.com/
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by Tavistock1 »

plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:25 pm We're buying a house for > $1.2 million in New England. It needs some TLC but we're not expert enough to assess whether it might need more than basic TLC, so we want a home inspection. Our real estate agent (our "buyer's agent" - don't get me started on that concept) has recommended an inspector but we're not stupid enough to use an inspector who depends on recommendations from someone who has that large a financial incentive for no show-stopper problems to be found.

So then the question is how do we find a good inspector who's highly incentivized to find problems, and where there's no conflict of interest based on maintaining a good relationship with local real estate agents? Would it be unethical to offer him a bonus (in writing) if he finds a show-stopper problem?
Realtor who prior to being same went to at the time the best home inspection training school/ company in the eastern us- if your agent is trusted and any good ( whole other discussion ) the “recommended inspectors “ should be trusted - if their findings indicate that the home has issues that require a “termination” then you’ll just find another home as…there’s always another home! Reading the thread of “ I’ll find an inspector who is x miles away so there’s no collusion or what not” is just silly - unless of course you don’t trust your realtor- I must say that there are realtors who will recommend inspectors who won’t “kill the deal” but hopefully your realtor is not that guy/gal. Period
billc23
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by billc23 »

I used Dennis Robotaille. He has retired but his company lives on: https://www.ablehomeinspection.com/meet-the-inspectors/

His son runs the company and seems capable.

I used him for a house built in 1804 in Portsmouth, NH. Twice the price of other inspectors and did an awesome job. the market was hot so no price concessions but safety issues were fixed and I knew what I was getting into.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by samsoes »

Ask your real estate attorney for an inspector recommendation.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by London »

Normchad wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 2:58 pm
London wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 6:12 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 6:47 pm IMO, anyone waiving a home inspection is foolish.
Most home inspections are of very limited value. Major components are either not covered or looked at on a cursory level. Caveats are many.
Certainly not true in my experience. My last inspection was a 90 page PDF, extremely detailed and filled with color photos of everything.

It’s true that they can’t inspect everything. They don’t go n the roof, or open walls, etc. but a good inspector will verify HVAC is performing within spec, verify drains are working, quickly verify electrical,outlets, and on and on and on. Mine checked moisture levels in the crawlspace. Had a CO sniffer for the furnace and hot water heater, etc. Reported the manufacture dates of HVAC components.

I know a lot about this stuff, and I found it very good. Most buyers know next to nothing. And I agree anybody who waives the Inspection is being foolish.
I guess we’ll agree to disagree. The things I care about ($$$) are Roof, Septic (where applicable) and foundation. Inspections don’t cover those in any real way. I don’t care if an outlet is working.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by leeks »

We used a home inspector recommended by our realtor and were satisfied with the thoroughness and reasonable cost. Our realtor was recommended by friends who used him several years prior and he works for a prominent firm. We confirmed he had been a party to many sales per year. Word of mouth referrals and a positive reputation are integral to being a successful realtor. Recommending a bad inspector would be counterproductive as the buyers would later learn the deficiencies and could harm the reputation of both the inspector and the realtor.

If you have a reputable realtor, from a reputable firm, who has worked on many transactions in your area, and who has been helpful and professional in your search, I would trust their recomendation for an inspector.

If we hadn't bought that house with him, we would have bought another. He helped us get it well under list price even though he knew our budget could go much higher.

I don't see how a realtor could have had any incentive to force us into a house we didn't like, or that had problems we didn't know about, or at a bad price. That would make us unhappy customers and harm his business reputation. Misleading clients might be a way to get a sale on one house, but it would not be a way to stay in business. And certainly an inspector who falsified inspections would also not stay in business long.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by PoorPlumber »

Different states will of course, differ.

I have had experience with several home inspectors in the past and most were very thorough in my opinion. Some to the point of being downright picky.

I would check for your state's licensing requirement for a "Licensed" home inspector. Doesn't mean they will be great. But it is a starting point for hopefully a required standard, insurance, etc.

It's been awhile, but at one time a Licensed General Contractor could NOT do a home inspection that would suffice for the real estate law. May have changed. And hiring a good contractor independently is not a bad idea to check things for piece of mind plus being able to compare to the home inspector's report.

Also, as someone mentioned, here a home inspector cannot assess a septic or well system. However, it must be inspected. By a certified inspector/installer. Wells are handled by the local health department. Again, both must be inspected and any issues disclosed.

All of this is required by real estate law and had even become more stringent & cautious after the house lending debacle in the U.S.

I personally have never found a home inspector, health department, septic inspector willingly looking to hide something from a potential buyer or seller. They are human and could make mistakes though, so I'm sure there are some horror stories out there.

Good Luck!
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by AvocadoDeliberator »

In my 6 real estate transactions, here is what I have concluded.

1. General inspector can point to issues and the good ones can tell you if you need a specialized opinion.

2. General inspections do crawl through attics or crawls and can tell you if there are inspects animals rot etc

3. If the house roof is tall, they will do drone. This I do not like. In these cases I ask a roofer to walk it as you can only tell the sponginess of a roof by walking amongst other things.

4. I am afraid of finished basements but many houses come like that or you may want it that way. I am worried about cracks buckling minor sepage. If finished pay extra attention to the immediate ground perimeter. Does it have a good grade. Is the house lower than most others, do the sump pumps run a lot..pay attention if they have multiple sump pumps and size. These indicators would be useless in peak summer or during dryer months but still something to think about.

5. Sloping floors, sometimes part and parcel of older houses however if the houses are new then I would really think through. Have them look at the chimney structure. Call a structural engineer if needed

6. Investigate septic tank and field or sewer lines thoroughly

7. Dont waste your time on over inspecting water heater is or the furnace. Ask for a warranty or factor in your price and move on ..

Finally, I never went with my realtors inspector. Nothing wrong if you do and have trust that there is no conflict of interest. Look around and call a few and may be even meet them to understand their approach. If you are in doubt ask for extended or extension on inspection. In my experience, folks (sellers) who want to do the right thing usually allow for this. Those who want to hide or want to close fast especially in a hot market will push back but least you can ask.

Just my few thoughts..
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by investuntilimrich »

Would never recommend using an inspector your realtor recommends. There's just too much risk with that "Nope everything looks OK let's get this deal done!". Second, make sure your inspector is looking through the attic, crawl space, etc. Be there for the entire inspection.

Old houses in New England (especially the inexpensive ones) can have a lot of asbestos on pipes or in the attic. If it's in the attic, I'd take a pass. It will have filtered down into cracks and crevices. If it's just piped I'd wrap it and not think much more about it but it could still have an impact on future sales. Looks for uneven cracks in basement walls. You don't want to buy something with a moving foundation. Looking for signs of moisture or deposits from previous moisture. If you find that you'll need to have a look at the grading, gutter, downspouts, etc. I'd pass on anything that requires multiple sump pumps and our has standing water in the crawl space/basement. If they have three fans tucked away nearby they are trying to dry it over before the showing hoping you won't notice.

Everything is expensive to replace. You might think "Well I can always just replace X' but be sure to price in the real cost of doing that work. In my experience, nothing is cheap right now. Doing it yourself with usually cut the cost in half but you have to be realistic about what the results will be like based on your level of time and expertise.
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by NYCaviator »

muffins14 wrote: Mon May 13, 2024 7:26 am
plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:25 pm Would it be unethical to offer him a bonus (in writing) if he finds a show-stopper problem?
First, do you want to buy the house or not?

Second, having bought recently I think inspections are sort of a waste of time and money.

They will find the show-stoppers like “there is a hole in the roof and I see the sky” or maybe some kind of wildly unsafe wiring that is visible, but they aren’t going to rip up the floor to find of any of the 50 pipes have a leak, and then put it back together for you.
I agree to some extent. One inspection we had was worthless. The inspector missed a bunch of big stuff. The second was great. The inspector used to be a contractor so he’d point stuff out that he said will eventually need to be replaced or things we should change. I would still never buy a house without an inspection so you at least have some idea of major issues.

For OP, I wouldn’t be too worried about taking a recommendation from your realtor, as long as you’re comfortable with the realtor. They have a professional reputation to maintain and they won’t keep getting business if they recommend shady inspectors.
Harmanic
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by Harmanic »

plnelson wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:25 pm We're buying a house for > $1.2 million in New England. It needs some TLC but we're not expert enough to assess whether it might need more than basic TLC, so we want a home inspection. Our real estate agent (our "buyer's agent" - don't get me started on that concept) has recommended an inspector but we're not stupid enough to use an inspector who depends on recommendations from someone who has that large a financial incentive for no show-stopper problems to be found.

So then the question is how do we find a good inspector who's highly incentivized to find problems, and where there's no conflict of interest based on maintaining a good relationship with local real estate agents? Would it be unethical to offer him a bonus (in writing) if he finds a show-stopper problem?
I was fortunate to know someone who was friends with a council member of a neighboring town. I met with the person, who referred a local inspector. The inspector charged multiple times what typical inspectors charged, but uncovered serious problems that caused us to walk away. We paid him again on the next house, which we ended up buying. Years later I found out that realtors HATED that inspector, because he caused more deals to fail for them and was a pain to deal with. Personally, I was thankful that he saved me from making a huge mistake and was glad I paid the extra cost to hire someone competent.
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brian2013
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by brian2013 »

I am a real estate attorney and totally agree with you. For my own home purchases, I have vetted and hired my own home inspector, not the one the agent recommended.

Personally I would choose an inspector in your geographic area, but not necessarily based in the town where your realtor is located. That way the inspector has a little less incentive to care what the realtor thinks.

"vetting" the inspector should not take that much time. Check their google reviews, and how long they've been in business - the longer, the better.

You also may need separate inspectors for some things. For example I think I had a home inspector, HVAC inspector, and stucco inspector, since there was a good bit of stucco on my home.
dknightd
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by dknightd »

Honestly, if I was spending $1M on a house. I would consider getting 2-3 opinions. Especially if you did not trust your opinion.
Retired 2019. So far, so good. I want to wake up every morning. But I want to die in my sleep. Just another conundrum. I think the solution might be afternoon naps ;)
Topic Author
plnelson
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Re: Worried about house inspector incentives

Post by plnelson »

EPILOGUE:
So we were in a hurry - the seller wanted the house inspected in 7 days - so we went with the one the realtor recommended. We all met at the property. It was clear the inspector and the realtor were old friends for a long time and they were chatting about family member, etc.

The inspection lasted for four hours. It was the most detailed house inspection I've ever seen. He found literally HUNDREDS of problems - quite a few minor one we could fix ourselves or for low money. But also major ones that we had just thought were cosmetic but he showed how they were much more serious. For example he showed how poor drainage from the roof has leaked in behind the clapboard siding and damaged the sheathing and the siding itself. He found where (apparently very old) termite infestation damaged the subfloor in two rooms (the owners had stopped an active termite infestation years ago but were apparently unaware of the damage). He found circuit breakers in the electrical panel that were incorrect for that panel and might be a fire hazard. He also found double-tapping in the electrical panel. He found that the flue pressure from the hot water heater was insufficient to reliably keep combustion gasses from leaking into the house. He found that the top riser of the stairs was 3/4" higher than the the other risers (code is max 3/16's) which is a tripping hazard (especially for me 'cause I already have trouble on stairs). Et cetera, Et Cetera The entire report is 70 pages long including lots of good photos.

After this I'd recommend this inspector to anybody!

We're getting some quick estimates of the work. We still want this house because its perfect for us in other ways but the seller will have to come down a lot ($100K?) on price. A previous sale had already fallen through so if they let this one go that will be number two and that will discourage other sales, not to mention all the problems it has. We'll make the case that we live a mile away and have no pressure to move to complete the sale, so we can live in our current house and oversee the work being done. Other buyers may not be willing to do that. This house is on a street where most of the houses are $1.x million and yesterday the other house that's for sale there dropped their price $65K.

BTW, the septic system was inspected in March and the inspection is on file with the town. We talked with that inspector and with the town official who oversees septic and we're confident that it's in good shape.
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