Controlling the home inspection process

By John Graham

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) has ushered in a new awareness of the way full disclosure upfront affords protection for home buyers. For this reason more and more property buyers are now insisting on a house inspection before finally committing to the sale.

Home inspection reports are part of the new reality facing South African estate agents.   For many agents this is a tremendous challenge as home inspectors have often been viewed in the industry as “deal killers” – nit-pickers who will put a buyer off by highlighting all of the negative aspects of the property.

However, by embracing, rather than resisting, the reality of home inspection reports – bybecoming part of the sales process – wise agents will be able to seize the opportunity, control the home inspection process and also use the home inspection report to streamline the sale.

A home inspection report, commissioned by the seller, provides the estate agent with the ability to control the sales process and to deal with buyer’s objections upfront. The agent is also able to place objections in perspective.  For instance a buyer may become very alarmed regarding a wall crack, which may, in reality, be very easy and cheap to repair.

By having access to a home inspection report, the agent is able to build credibility with the buyer by providing a full independent and qualified opinion on all physical conditions of the house.

The agent then becomes the trusted advisor of both seller and buyers.

Agents who don’t embrace the new reality of home inspections, will inevitably come up against competing agents who do.  They may then easily be perceived as untrustworthy agents who are not being fully open about the property which they are marketing.

By advocating the need for a home inspection report upfront, the estate agent will then normally also enjoy the opportunity to recommend a home inspector whom he/she trusts and respects.  The accreditation, training and attitude of the home inspector are obviously all important factors in this regard.

Ethical home inspectors walk a fine between providing an objective, factual report on the condition of the property while at the same time being acutely aware of the dynamics in which the estate agent operates.  

Overly negative, nit-picking or incompetent home inspection reports are the last thing an agent needs.  Therefore it is all the more important that the agent has the opportunity to control the process and recommend a home inspector who will do his job well and inspire confidence among all parties but not recklessly or needlessly produce a negative deal-killing report.

In the next article in this series I will examine the practical advantages to all parties of a professional home inspection report.

John Graham is the CEO of HouseCheck.   He can be contacted on 083 3109 766 or john@housecheck.co.za

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