How to perform an effective visual inspection

The real estate market fueled by the 2020-21 pandemic has been a market like no other, full of waived contingencies and bidding wars. Unfortunately, those market conditions leave buyers in a precarious situation, sometimes forcing them to forgo important considerations in the home buying process, such as home inspections, in order to compete with other offers.

Some type of pre-offer inspection is a good way to combat buyer risk, and it is important for agents to prepare their buyers on how to do it effectively and efficiently so that buyers can still receive an offer from the seller in a manner timely.

What happens during a walk-through inspection

Practices vary by market, but these inspections are commonly called “pre-offer inspections,” “walk-through inspections,” or “walk-and-talk inspections,” and all serve to uncover significant or costly problems in a home before they are a buyer makes a high offer that they end up regretting.

These inspections are truncated and may take about an hour (or less, if they are actually only walking around the house with you on one visit), so they will not be complete. But, they can at least give the buyer a clue as to a home’s major underlying problems and are worth the cost, which will vary by market, but can amount to a couple hundred dollars or more.

Bruce Barker | Credit: American Society of Home Inspectors

“It is very important that people understand it, they do not replace a home inspection under any conditions, ”Bruce Barker, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, told Inman. “You really can’t use these things to walk and talk [to judge the full condition of the home]. “

For a pass inspection, Barker added that buyers should enter with an understanding of what kinds of things will be covered and not covered, in order to better understand their risk.

“You really need to discuss with the inspector what the scope of the inspection is,” Barker said. “Expectations are really the key, both for the inspector, the agent and the client, which is not an inspection, it is a very limited scope procedure and basically you need to contact the inspector, understand the scope and understand what they are. your risks “.

Tips for efficiency

Since time will not be on the buyer’s side, agents may want to suggest to buyers to identify specific areas where they are especially concerned about the condition, so an inspector can address those areas first and make sure to locate them in After that, an inspector can do this anyway, but encourage buyers to ask inspectors to review items that will require more expensive or more challenging repairs, such as the roof, HVAC system, or foundation.

Liz Hogan | Credit: Compass

“I am always looking around me and I always ask the [listing] agent three important questions, ”Liz Hogan, executive director of luxury properties at Compass Florida, told Inman. “One is that it really is the expensive items that you constantly see come up that need to be replaced or repaired, and it is usually the roof, the air conditioning units and the appliances.”

Another way buyers can save the inspector time and cover more area during an exhibition is by investing in their own moisture reader to check for moisture on the walls of the house.

“If I was in a really competitive market and I felt like I was going to forego an inspection and run into that multiple times, I would go to Home Depot and invest in a $ 50 moisture reader,” Hogan said. “That’s all they cost, that’s what all the inspectors use. Go buy one and you can literally walk around the house and put it on the walls and see if there’s water behind the walls or something like that that might show signs of mold because that’s really one of the biggest problems we have here in Florida. . “

Get creative if scheduling becomes a problem

Another factor to consider is, since inspectors are just as busy as everyone else these days, how feasible it would be to get an inspector to come with a buyer for a visit with a last minute notice. It may take a little conviction, good agent connections with local inspectors, or a little creativity.

Dina Goldentayer | Credit: Douglas Elliman

“It has been difficult to hire an inspector at this point, because they are probably busier than ever,” Dina Goldentayer, executive director of sales for Douglas Elliman in Miami, told Inman. “Having an inspector tag alongside a visit may not even be logistically feasible. Facetime with the inspector. Where there is a will, there is a way.”

It’s also important to note that while walk-and-talk inspections are becoming more common in this market, not all inspectors will agree to conduct one.

“The walks and conversations are somewhat controversial,” wrote real estate writer Lew Sichelman in a story for Banker and merchant. “Some inspectors don’t do them, believing they violate the standards of practice in their states. Others say that they are bad for business, that they take their precious time with much less money to show.

“There are other problems as well,” Sichelman continued. “The seller would probably have to grant permission to [do] the abbreviated exam, which is doubtful without a contract. The inspector’s insurance may not cover it. “

If buyers are having trouble getting an inspector to go to a show with them and feel they are in a position that a seller will not consider an offer that includes an inspection-based contingency, a good compromise between the two options. you are still conducting a full inspection as quickly as possible during the inspection period, but making it clear that the buyer will not request repairs.

It’s about weighing the risks against the benefits.

When considering whether or not a walk-and-talk inspection should be performed, it is important to assess the risk profile both the buyer, according to their previous experience, and the type of home, according to its age, location and other factors.

“Definitely minimizing risk is important for the buyer to make sure they don’t feel the pressure of the market, because it’s a very heated market and I don’t want my clients to make hasty decisions just because they really want a home,” said Goldentayer.

“So it’s the buyer’s comfort level – if you’re a seasoned buyer and you know, ‘okay, I can have some basic maintenance to take care of,’ you might be able to get in without an inspection period more comfortably than someone who owns it. of a home for the first time “.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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