In today's residential real estate market, home inspections have become an integral part of virtually every resale property transaction. Most REALTORS® will insert a home inspection "condition" into an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, making the buyer's offer conditional on obtaining a satisfactory home inspection. Does this mean the house has to be perfect? No. Is this a tactic to potentially get out of a deal should the buyer(s) change their minds? No. The purpose of a home inspection is to simply obtain a report on the condition of the property at that point in time. If done thoroughly, a home inspection will help forewarn a buyer(s) about potential problems with a home suggesting that further examination is required ie: bring in a structural engineer or conduct a mold test etc.
Television personality Mike Holmes has repeatedly criticized home inspectors and rightly so. Some inspectors lack the knowledge, training and or experience to thoroughly inspect a property and render an accurate assessment of its condition. However, let's not lose sight of one thing. A home inspection which typically takes 2-1/2 to 3 or more hours is only a "visual" inspection and most inspectors will duly explain that to the buyer(s). A well qualified inspector will enter a crawl space, go up into the attic, pull the cover off the electric panel, run the appliances and so on. They don't however punch holes in drywall to examine an inner wall structure nor can they visually assess the interior of a home's foundation walls if the basement is fully finished. A well trained home inspector will however note certain conditions that could be the tell tale signs that are masking something much more serious.
CBC's program Marketplace recently did a segment on home inspectors the main focus of which was in relation to grow houses. Click on the link below.http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2010/grow_op_cover_up/main.html
In this show, four out of four home inspectors missed and or ignored warning signs that the subject property had one time been a grow house. That's a pretty shoddy reflection on the home inspection profession. To date, the home inspection industry has a long way to go before it is regulated to the same extent that we as REALTORS® are. The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors is working diligently to improve the training and effectiveness of its members. The irony is however, if a REALTOR® were to sell a home with known deficiencies and failed to protect their client, the REALTOR® would stand to be in a lot more trouble than a home inspector that had failed to properly assess and report on the home's issues. A consumer's only recourse with a home inspector is with a civil suit. A REALTOR® on the other hand faces severe consequences both civilly as well as with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), the body enforces the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, provincial law with which we must adhere. If found negligent, RECO can bring forth a variety of measures against a REALTOR® including fines, mandatory training, suspension or worse, revoking of a REALTOR'S® license thus ending their career.
It is by far in a REALTOR'S® best interest to recommend a well qualified home inspector, one that will leave no stone unturned in fully inspecting and reporting on the condition of a property. There is nothing to be gained and a lot more to lose by having a buyer(s) purchase a home that turns out to have issues that should have been detected in a home inspection. It's not only a matter of "let the buyer beware," but the REALTOR® as well.