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Bring an Inspector to Showings?

April 26, 2021

In order to be more prepared and able to act faster in a frantic housing market, some buyers are bringing a home inspector with them on property walkthroughs so they can confidently make an offer on a home. In the home inspection industry, these are known as “walk-and-talk” inspections, but they aren’t a substitute for a traditional, more thorough home inspection, warn professional inspectors. Some even want to put an end to the practice of walk-and-talk inspections.

Such inspections may consist of 30-minute meetings in which an inspector reviews a property with a buyer and notes any visible defects. “Because inspectors typically do not provide a report, and there isn’t enough time to provide a thorough evaluation, consumers who opt for preliminary buyer walkthroughs must rely on information the inspector is able to verbally relay during the consultation,” states an article at the American Society of Home Inspectors’ website.

Buyers may opt for a walk-and-talk inspection in order to feel comfortable making an offer free of an inspection contingency, which may improve their competitive advantage in a hot market. But some inspectors worry about the potential liability of walk-and-talk inspections. “Home buyers should understand that when they waive the home inspection, they assume the risk of incurring significant costs to repair defects that might have been discovered during a home inspection,” says ASHI President Bruce Barker.

Dave Klutch of Minnesota-based Harmony Home Inspections says a better alternative is a pre-listing inspection—but that's done by a seller prior to listing a property for sale. A pre-listing inspection is a full home inspection intended to alert a seller to repairs that either need to be fixed or disclosed before putting a home on the market. “Sellers can throw the pre-listing inspection report on their dining room table,” Klutch says. “It shows full disclosure. It reduces the need for real estate agents to haggle over price. Everyone wins.”

Dave Taurinskas, owner of Reassurance Home Inspection in Minnesota, recommends another alternative: Buyers could offer a small amount of earnest money to get a full home inspection. They can then agree not to make any demands based on the inspection report, or if the inspection uncovers defects that don’t sit well with buyers, they can forfeit the earnest money and inspection fee and walk away from the deal.

Source: 
Preliminary Buyer Walk-Throughs,” American Society of Home Inspectors (April 20, 2021)