Should You Use an Agent's Recommended Home Inspector?

Very interesting article on recommendations....


A reader asks: "We are first-time home buyers. After we got our offer accepted on a bank-owned home, our agent sent us a list of home inspectors to call. We think the agent might have a reason to refer people who won't tell us if something is wrong. After all, she doesn't get paid if we don't buy the home. Should we use our agent's home inspector or should we find our own inspector? Help! We're stuck."


Answer: Are you suggesting that your agent is less than honest with you and you don't trust your agent? 

I've never met an agent who didn't want his or her buyers to have full disclosure, but that's not to say every agent puts the buyer's interests first. However, I can assure you it would be extreme for an agent to pressure a home inspector to provide a faulty report. It's simply not standard practice.

You imply that a home inspector and a real estate agent may be in collusion with each other, and that's such a rarity. You'll find dishonest people in every business, but the numbers are much smaller than you may imagine.

No reputable real estate agent will withhold information from a buyer or induce a third-party vendor to withhold information.

If you choose your buyer's agent wisely, the home inspectors your agent recommends are most likely of the same caliber as the agent.

  • May 25 2012 - Bowling Green
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Answers (34)

Sending you a list of home inspectors is hardly a recommendation. Interview them and see if they meet your criteria, or pick a random home inspector from a Google search in the local area.

I NEVER recommend a home inspector to my clients, but I do provide them a list of reputable ones.  Again, it is not a recommendation, but a service to my clients.  They are free to choose who they want.
  • May 25 2012
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If your agent is a buyers agent they have a duty to protect your interest.  If the agent is also representing the seller or only a sellers agent, I would not accept their recommendation.

Go to the ASHI Home inspector website to find a qualified inspector...do not pick one out of thin air.

Eve
  • May 25 2012
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Most home buyers look to their buying agent to recommend a professional home inspector that works in the area where they are buying their home.  I like to recommend 3 different inspectors to my buyers.  Then they can compare prices, and even call each of the inspectors to interview them, and then decide. 

If you are concerned, just ask your Realtor to recommend two more inspectors so you can compare them.
  • May 25 2012
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As a home inspector I can tell you that your agent has probably worked with the inspector(s) he/she is recommending and knows how thorough and professional they are. I would never put my customer or business at risk just to help an agent make a sale. We appreciate when agents recommend us to their clients and hope they always do as that is where 50% of our work comes from. However, as long as you hire an inspector who is licensed, experienced, and certified you should have nothing to worry about. Be present at your inspection and ask questions. Feel free to contact me if you have any that I may be able to answer.

PJGreenwell - FABI, NACHI, ASHI
  • May 25 2012
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If your state requires Home Inspectors to be licensed, then they are already reputable.  They have gone through many hours of classroom and field study.  They have passed a state required exam.  They have to take X hours of continuing education per year to maintain their license.  And they pay fees to the state for that license.
ASHI Inspectors are inspectors who belong to a private organization.  They pay fees on top of the state required fees. It is nice to be a member of a club, but it is not required to be a great inspector. 
As with any other big purchase, a consumer should to their homework before making a final decision.
The first-time home buyer in the article should not feel like they are stuck with their Realtor recommended Home Inspector.
  • May 25 2012
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Profile picture for Matt Hiatt

Good home inspectors are extremely important, which is why I give my clients a list of at least four. They don't have to use them, but these are ones that I know are ASHI certified (American Society of Home Inspectors), been doing them for several years, and have great references, licensed, bonded and insured.  I look out for my clients best interest, and I would never want them to buy a home that they are not happy with, it isn't worth it. I receive no compensation from the home inspectors, and they only get on my list if they are qualified.

  • May 26 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Homeowners can take the short list from their agent, but they should take the time to interview and hire the inspector on their own. Inspections are an important part of buying a house. Bad inspections can turn a happy purchase into a 30 year commitment to a money pit.

Buyers often do not know how honest or professional their agent is until they have the benefit of a little hindsight. Recommendations are fine, but buyers need to know that they have no way of knowing how good the inspector is and what their relationship to the agent is unless they take time to interview them personally.
  • May 26 2012
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Profile picture for SteadyState
The answer to the question has nothing to with the honesty of the REA of lack thereof.

The inspector recommended by the agent is one that the agent has had success with in the past. Success here means - did not impede the sale of the home and performed an adequate level of inspection.

The inspector recommended by the buyer (or someone competent but not an REA) is  someone who may impede the sale of the home by performing an through analysis.

Choose wisely - this has nothing to do with honesty/dishonesty. It has everything to do withconflict of interests.
  • May 26 2012
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Make sure your inspector is licensed and insured.  Make sure they are also a licensed contractor. That weeds out he better from the best! I send 3 licensed contractor-inspectors to my clients. I tell them they can choose one or choose their own. I know my three are licensed by the state of FL to build a home.  They are able to find anything incorrect and they call my buyers with the details. If the buyer chooses to move on, we do.  There are tons of houses out there.  I don't need my buyer to get stuck. If you can not trust your realtors references, you need another realtor.
  • May 26 2012
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providing a list is not a recommendation is a service.
If you feel this way about your agent why did you hire your agent.?
Buyers agents are professionals with legal and professionals obligations to their clients.

 
  • May 26 2012
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To avoid any conflict of interest, buyers should take it upon them self's to
interview and hire the inspector of their choice. Its very easy to Google "home inspector" and pick your own top three or four results. Compare experience, qualifications,services and quality of the inspection report. I can not stress the last point enough! Compare sample reports from various inspectors and determine which is the most professional and detailed.
Most professional inspectors will vary in cost by less than $100. This is nothing when you consider the inspection report is the final step in evaluating the condition of the property before closing.
Do yourself a favor and avoid looking for a "cheap" inspection.
  • February 13 2013
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Profile picture for howardft
It's a good start, but I would shop around and compare prices and services among various home inspectors. You might also ask for a copy of a report to get an idea for what the inspector's report will look like. Be careful on not paying for a home inspection because they are the "cheapest." You want someone with experience and preferably someone who is a licensed contractor on top of having an inspector's license. 
  • February 13 2013
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Your agent works with inspectors everyday, typically we know who the best & most trustworthy inspectors are. Take the recommendation of your agent and do some homework your self online, so that you can make a good educated decision.
  • February 13 2013
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Also, beware of preferred vendor programs. The ASHI reporter article below outlines clear violations of RESPA with such programs. Visit the HUD website for detailed information on RESPA and how it protects you as a buyer.

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/rmra/res/respa_hm

http://www.independentinspectors.org/conflictofinterest.html

http://www.ashireporter.org/HomeInspection/Articles/ASHI-Attends-ARELLO-Midyear-Meeting-Home-Inspector-Track/1445
  • February 13 2013
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Profile picture for Dennis Evans
I believe that you should have a choice and that you should interview, Or at the very least, Check each Inspector out by either past clients, etc. 
If you ask your agent, They can recommend some, Should always be at least 3 or ask friends and relatives for their recommendations.
In any case, You need to feel comfortable with whomever you decide as this is YOUR inspection!
  • February 14 2013
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If your agent is giving you several choices then you can likely trust your agent.  It is still your decision in who you hire and you do not have to hire any of them.   You are independently hiring a professional inspector to represent you and your best interest.  You should communicate directly with the inspector about the report they generate and ask them any questions you might have about the property.   Your agent is there to assist you and will be there if this house doesn't pass inspection.   It makes me a bit ill to think that you can not trust your agent, also a bit sad for you.  
Best of luck to you!
  • February 14 2013
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
"It makes me a bit ill to think that you can not trust your agent, also a bit sad for you." -

Unfortunately, it is true, too many "professionals" are more concerned about their own interests than their clients.  And sure, one can spend 5 hours interviewing 500 "agents" each to find 2 agents that won't accidentally deceive you... but it really is not worth the time.

It is better to do one's own research on what inspector will provide the service one needs, than to rely on someone that has an entirely different perspective on what you as a client "need" and "want".

It will take a lot less time to interview the inspectors than it will to interview the agents.  Agents are an entirely different "breed" as their specialty is "marketing", and that requires a mindset that is not compatible with "engineering".  I don't want to "look at the bright side", I want to look at the "realistic side", and be able to calculate an accurate "life cycle cost" and "benefits analysis" for living in any specific property and location.  And that simply is not what a typical "agent" judges an inspector on.
  • February 14 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
No. Agents can recommend anyone to you, but as a buyer it is your responsibility to interview the inspectors, ask about their credentials and their relationship with your agent before you hire them.
  • February 14 2013
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As a Home Inspector, 

I find Realtors in my area have their short list of inspectors and use it often. These inspectors do a home inspection in 45 minutes and in my mind that is NOT possible and for half the price. "Imagine that". Often times Realtors ask me how much I charge and tell me "oh that's too much". I would like to know who are they to regulate my fees with cheaper and poor inspectors on their short list just to make the sale.

Helping your client find a cheap inspector for the purchase of their lifetime is a violation of your fiduciary duty. The National Association of Realtor's defines your duties in their Code of Ethics.
Article 1 requires you to protect and promote your clients' best interests. Using a short list for your client's also falls into this shady area of practice. 

I am here to give the Best High Quality Independent Professional Home and Property Inspections to Rapid City and all of the Black Hills surrounding area residents. I am not a pass for cash inspector and take the code of ethics seriously and all of my inspections are non-bias. I am not Realtor driven in any way.

Black Hills Professional Home Inspections

InterNachi, PHII, Flir ITC
SD State Plumbing License
Electrician's License
Residential & Commercial
Log Homes
35 years Remodeling and Construction
  • December 23 2013
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Profile picture for Rebecca Marvel
I have always told my buyers to find their own home inspector if they feel more comfortable -- many have used their own, some have done their own home inspection and some have selected from one of the only two I know in my area.

I have been known to pay for repairs out of my own pocket to make the buyers happy and comfortable with their purchase.
  • December 23 2013
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A real estate agent cannot serve in the best interest of both their client (the home seller) and their customer (the home buyer)

http://www.independentinspectors.org/
  • November 01
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Profile picture for cnrtool1
A reader asks: "We are first-time home buyers. After we got our offer accepted on a bank-owned home, our agent sent us a list of home inspectors to call. We think the agent might have a reason to refer people who won't tell us if something is wrong. After all, she doesn't get paid if we don't buy the home. Should we use our agent's home inspector or should we find our own inspector? Help! We're stuck."


ANSWER-  Would you ask a used car salesman for the name of a mechanic to determine the road worthiness of a car for sale on his lot?

If your answer is yes, by all means use the home inspector the realtor suggests.
  • November 02
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Perfect logic leading to a ridiculous conclusion.

As said before, if you don't trust your agent to recommend good service providers, don't trust them with your transaction.

  • November 02
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Profile picture for Justin Tye
There are a lot of good responses and I think they hit the nail on the head. Basically you are right to make sure that you know any and all items that might concern you as a buyer. The seller, even though it is a bank, should also disclose all know items that might be an issue. It is very rare for a good agent to refer anyone, especially an inspector unless they are equally as good or even better at their job. That goes for any third party. In the end, a good, ethical agent is there to protect your best interests and serve you to the best of their ability. Good luck and great advise from everyone.
  • November 02
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There are reasons the agent likes someone over others. Integrity, clear, ability to get the job done on time.
I use smaller and shorter inspectors as many can not crawl inside tiny crawl space hole, attics.
  • November 02
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Profile picture for cnrtool1
Mack- most people buying a house do not know their agents.
(kinda like most people who go to a used car lot don't know their salesman)

Please don't try to tell me all your clients are personal friends...
  • November 03
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Well, that does put you in a difficult position: unable to determine if your agent is trustworthy, and then having to make more important decisions concerning service providers with the same inability to determine their trustworthiness.

I don't quite know how you can resolve that problem, except to expect the worst.

  • November 03
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Profile picture for Dunes ..
No one has the ability to determine trustworthiness, sometimes you figure right and sometimes ya don't...anyone who suggests they can determine trustworthiness is not a person to trust imo.

Trust is something proven over time or earned or or or...perhaps some do better in choosing or have a better track record but it isn't something you can determine because you're smarter than others or or or
You choose/make your best guess of who you think is trustworthy because you are hiring, you are paying and then you hope they prove to be trustworthy

Anyone looking around any RE Forum or anywhere in the real world will see trusting to easily and/or to much is a problem...a big problem

The fact people do not have the ability to always determine trustworthiness is the foundation of...Buyer Beware and Due Diligence


  • November 03
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I haven't found that people in a continual state of mis-trust do especially well, however . . .

  • November 03
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Profile picture for Dunes ..

I haven't found that people in a continual state of trust do especially well, however....
  • November 03
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