Agent complains about home inspectors

Updated 12/13/2022 4:24 PM

Q: May I help you shed some naiveté? As a high producing real estate agent in the Seattle area, I have watched growing numbers of home inspectors. with their authoritarian attitudes, lead buyers to believe they are entitled to a "mint" condition house, free of defects, real or imagined.

For all your endorsements of home inspections, I find the inspection industry to be out of control and run amok! Two reports on the same house have different lists of defects. Some reports are so nit-picky, they seem contrived to justify the inspection fee. One inspector mentions an alleged problem verbally, but then doesn't list it in his report.


Consumers and their agents are victimized by fly-by-night inspectors who operate without oversight or licenses. What you home inspectors need is some imposed standards to control your loose-cannon business that negatively impacts the sale of homes. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

A: Without question, there are disparities and inequities within the home inspection profession, just as there are in all fields of human enterprise. If you've read this column with regularity, you will recall the conduct of home inspectors is sometimes criticized, as situations are posed by readers. There are no illusions here regarding inconsistencies within the industry, especially with new and inexperienced inspectors entering the field.

In many states, especially those that do not yet require licenses for home inspectors, it is too easy to set up shop as an inspector. Many begin their careers with very little preparation -- a two-week crash course from a home inspection school, a home-study correspondence course, or a credential obtained by passing a simple online exam.

On the other hand, there are thousands of experienced, qualified home inspectors, providing comprehensive inspections for homebuyers and conducting their work according to the standards of practice set forth by professional associations. As mentioned in past articles, the American Society of Home Inspectors and similar state associations provide meaningful direction and ongoing education for inspectors.

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Real estate professionals should become familiar with the inspectors in their respective areas who represent the competent side of the home inspection profession and should encourage quality home inspections by recommending only the best inspectors.

This, of course, raises the issue of home inspector referral practices among real estate agents and brokers. An unfortunate inclination among some agents is the avoidance of those inspectors who are most qualified and most thorough, preferring instead those inspectors whose lack of experience leads to less comprehensive inspections.

Many articles have been published in professional real estate journals, purporting to educate agents about the importance of home inspections and full disclosure. Yet the point seldom mentioned in these articles is that agents should only recommend the most thorough and experienced home inspectors available.

Clearly, both of our professions, home inspectors and real estate agents, could improve the practices of our respective industries where defect disclosure is involved. For both groups, however, self-examination, not finger pointing, would be the best approach.

• Email Barry Stone at

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