One of the most common mistakes inspectors make when they perform a verbal inspection is to only focus on the physical side of a house without telling the buyer about the problems they found. By telling the buyer about the problems found during the inspection, the inspector can encourage the seller to make the necessary changes before closing. In some cases it might be difficult for buyers to totally fix their homes before selling because of the cost involved, but a written report with an offer to sell, should include all of the negative findings. In multiple-offer situations the inspector should always refer the buyer to a licensed professional home inspector who can provide them with the necessary information regarding the home and whether or not it qualifies as a good fit for their needs.
Who can provide professional licensed and inspector?
There’s really not much national precedent for verbal home inspectors; this particular scope of non-licensed service is really only a very specific scope of practice in the Pacific Northwest. Licensed home inspectors in most states can’t even think of making verbal recommendations to homeowners because of the liability and lack of jurisdiction and in some jurisdictions licensing laws outright ban verbal appraisals. This practice is extremely rare in the states where it’s not illegal, so it’s important for inspectors to have their wits about them and know when to use caution when suggesting any improvements or cleaning that they may find. If an inspector has reason to believe that a homeowner isn’t maintaining their home in a safe and healthy manner then they should feel free to refer the homeowner to a licensed home inspector who has received the proper training and licensing to administer such a service without fear of legal repercussions.
As a reminder, home inspectors aren’t rubber stamps; they have to stay objective and have a strong sense of urgency when making a referral. The verbal inspection may seem like a no-brainer and the written report might look like one of those great ideas you read about somewhere, but your brain needs to get in the way. Buyers should have a contract that outlines the services they will receive from the home inspector, a guarantee that they will be provided with a written inspection report upon closing, and the home inspector should guarantee that they will give the buyer this information. Don’t put all of the work into having a verbal inspection and then don’t offer it to buyers who are very anxious to close on time.