real estate MA

Why Home Inspections Misbehave

by Jack Morrison on March 15, 2016

home inspection checklist

 Why Home Inspections Misbehave?

by Attorney Jack Morrison


Have you noticed more problems with home inspections? It’s not that home inspectors are finding more problems or getting too picky. It’s how the buyer uses the home inspection results.

I recently had a situation where the buyer and seller went back and forth with price negotiations. Both parties refused to budge. Reluctantly, the parties agreed on a price, but, the buyer’s home inspection became another opportunity to re-open the negotiations. The house was not new. It’s 20 years old. All critical systems –plumbing, heating, and wiring were operational. The buyers’ tact was the life expectancy of those systems and the cost to replace them. Yeah, really?

Anyways, sellers didn’t budge. And we –myself and the buyer’s lawyer, went back and forth trying to resolve the price difference. Crazy, yes, I know.

But, why is the home inspection misbehaving?

It’s my opinion; the purpose of a home inspection is to determine the condition of the property. When negotiating price, a buyer wants to be sure they are not buying more problems. That’s it. Maybe if we change the name of the home inspection report to the “This is what your buying Report” it would make it clearer.

Now, I can’t blame the buyers, their agents or their attorney for their inventive use of the home inspection report. They’re creative.

Some people love negotiations. It’s part of the blood, heritage, and purpose. You can’t avoid them…unfortunately. But, you have to deal with them. Setting the tone of the negotiations should minimize the abuse.

When counseling buyers and sellers in the role of negotiating home inspection issues establish the tone at the beginning of the process. Let the buyer, seller, and their agents know what to expect from a home inspection. Unless it’s a new home, there will be maintenance issues. Systems wear over time. You should expect this. Unless a home inspector discovers situation which would endanger the inhabitants, the house is “as is.”

By the way, you’re probably interested in the results of the misbehaved home inspection, the parties resolved their concerns. It wasn’t easy. When a seller wants to sell, and a buyer wants to buy, I see my role as “closing the deal.” (Of course, all within reason).