Inspections: Agents have vital role to play

Home inspections are fast becoming the norm in the South African real estate sales process and estate agents should therefore be using the home inspection report as an important tool in successfully managing negotiations between seller and buyer, says John Graham CEO of property inspection company HouseCheck.

Graham says South African estate agents are now generally much less hostile to the concept of home inspection and indeed some estate agents are now recommending that their buyers obtain a home inspection report.  Some agents, says Graham, have moved beyond regarding a home inspection report as a possible “deal-breaker” and are now starting to use the report to facilitate and finalise the sale negotiations.

Graham said HouseCheck had recognised the crucial role which estate agents play in the sales process and had decided to routinely make a copy of the inspection report available to the estate agent involved.  This means that the buyer and the agent (and through the agent the seller also) has access to the same factual information on the condition of the property.

He said that some buyers and home inspection companies try and keep the contents of the inspection report confidential to the buyer in order to gain a negotiating advantage.   Graham says HouseCheck had decided to take a firm stance in this matter and wherever possible to also make a copy of the report available to the agent involved.   HouseCheck is able to do this because HouseCheck remains the legal owner of all of its reports.

HouseCheck decided to give affected estate agents copies of its report because the HouseCheck recognised the crucial role of estate agents and because its vision was to make the sales negotiation as open and transparent as possible.   “HouseCheck reports are totally factual and no-one really benefits by having the facts withheld from them”, says Graham.

In North America where home inspections are the norm, not the exception, estate agents routinely sit down with seller and buyer and use the home inspection report to negotiate the list of defects which the seller will take responsibility for – either by repairing, replacing, or by way of a adjustment in the price of the property.

Graham says good agents should encourage buyers to accept and “live with” minor defects and, on the other hand encourage sellers to take responsibility for major issues revealed in the report.

“No house is perfect” says Graham “and a good agent armed with a reliable home inspection report should be able to achieve sensible and fair compromise between seller and buyer and  in doing so finalise the deal.

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