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Home Inspections : What You Need to Know

There are several things home buyers can do to help ensure they’re getting an objective report and that the relationship between the inspector and the real estate agent does not pose a conflict of interest.

Be careful about using an inspector recommended by your real estate agent. Instead, consider asking friends or relatives if they know an inspector they like and trust. But evaluate inspectors on your own. Do not delegate this responsibility to agents, loan officers, or anyone else with a financial interest in the transaction.

You can also ask for a provision in the contract that asks the inspector to assure that he/she has not recently, is not currently, and does not plan in the future, to solicit referrals from real estate agents.

Make sure the inspector or the inspection company agree not to start before the scheduled start time. Make sure that whatever the inspector tells you in person, he puts in writing in the final report. If the inspector states anything about the house that you feel has a significant influence on your decision whether to buy, renegotiate, etc., be sure the statement is recorded in the report in writing.

Attend the entire inspection without interfering with the inspector (e.g., ask questions at the end of the inspection but before the report has been processed).

Use only a firm that allows you to be able to receive, read, and ask questions about the inspection report at the end of the inspection before the inspector leaves the site.

Be wary of inspectors making comments that have an effect on your decision to buy that involve issues generally outside of their area of expertise such as: the relative value of the home (for example, “you’re getting a real bargain here” or “this neighborhood has excellent schools” or “this neighborhood has a low crime rate.”)

Ask for a list of the ratings that the inspector has given on the last 10 homes they have inspected (e.g., above average, average, below average) and have him sign it as proof of his acknowledgement that it is true.
Make sure that the inspector, the inspection firm owner, or other inspectors in the firm do not have a spouse who is a real estate agent or broker.

Make sure that no owner or inspector in the firm holds an active or inactive real estate agent or broker license. Also, the company itself should not be owned, partially or wholly, by a real estate company, bank, etc.

Make sure that neither the owner of the inspection firm nor any of the inspectors in the firm are in any way related to any of the agents involved in the sale of the home being inspected.

Look for ads that indicate independence from real estate agents and that state the inspection firm does not solicit referrals from real estate agents.

Source: Federal Trade Commission
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