Reporting Within the Scope of Expertise Even the very best and most experienced home inspectors do not know everything about every system and component that could exist in a house. What these experienced home inspectors know is when to say: “I don’t know,” and recommend inspection or further evaluation by someone who does know. This is not only ethical behavior, it is smart business.
Just the Facts, Ma’am There can be great temptation to write a deficiency comment in a manner that understates or overstates the actual condition of the system or component, or that overstates or understates the significance of the deficiency. Reporting only the facts, as the home inspector understands them, is not only ethical behavior, in the long run it is smart business.
Understatement is the more common temptation. Home inspectors who are perceived by real estate agents as being too picky or alarmist get a reputation as a deal killer. These home inspectors may get fewer real estate agent referrals, and make less money as a result. The home inspector might be tempted to downplay a deficiency in order to maintain the referral stream from a real estate agent. Good real estate agents understand that it is in everyone’s best interest, including the agent’s, to deal with facts up front to avoid litigation later. Good home inspectors want to work with good agents, and avoid agents who want friendly reports.
Overstatement can also be a temptation. Defensive reporting involves reporting in a manner that is unduly alarmist or recommends further evaluation of almost everything, so that the home inspector perceives he/she is safe from litigation. Defensive reporting is not necessary and does not serve anyone’s interest, even the home inspector’s.
Inspection Result Disclosure Usually, many parties want to know the results of a home inspection, but the only party that has the right to know the results is the client. The home inspector should not share the inspection results, including the report, with anyone other than the client without the client’s written permission. This includes the client’s real estate agent, the listing (seller’s) agent, and the seller. Many real estate sales contracts give the sellers the right to see the inspection report; however, the home inspector is not a party to that contract.Distribution of the home inspection report to agents and sellers is at the client’s discretion and is the client’s responsibility. Some jurisdictions that license home inspectors have interpretations of what is and what is not acceptable in this area.
Advertising and Marketing Advertising and marketing of home inspector services and qualifications should be truthful and accurate. The home inspector should not, for example, advertise or promote qualifications that the home inspector does not possess or membership in organizations to which the home inspector does not belong. The home inspector should not promote a business license as a home inspection license.