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My clients realize very quickly that I work solely for them. When I'm dealing with first time buyers they often are nervous about the whole home buying process.

Because they see that I'm on their side they sometime ask questions that are not really a part of the home inspection. They ask things like, "are the sellers responsible for fixing these things"?

I know one needs to be careful when responding to a question like this. How do you respond to these kind of questions?

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I get that question a lot and I respond with some like:

“it is a negotiation process. I have no authority to force the sellers to fix anything. Once you get my report you need to go through it and decide what items you’re comfortable with handling once you own the house, and what item you would like the sellers to take care of. The sellers have the option of: fixing it, giving you $ to fix it, or tell you to jump in a lake.â€

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My clients realize very quickly that I work solely for them. When I'm dealing with first time buyers they often are nervous about the whole home buying process.

Because they see that I'm on their side they sometime ask questions that are not really a part of the home inspection. They ask things like, "are the sellers responsible for fixing these things"?

I know one needs to be careful when responding to a question like this. How do you respond to these kind of questions?

I tell everyone who'll listen that it's a bad idea to ask the sellers to fix things. If the inspection reveals problems that make the buyer want to renegotiate the deal, then they should renegotiate for cash. Unless, of course, they *want* the worst possible repair work done on their new house.

The only exception is repair items related to access or discovery. If a section of crawlspace or attic, for instance, is inaccessible, I tell them to make the proper access and call me back to reinspect it.

- Jim in Oregon

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Hey John,

I always get asked this question along with the dreaded "Would you buy this house?" question.

I try to stay neutral and defer to the Realtor if He/She is present. However, in general terms I state that the Sellers are "Typically" responsible for paragraph 21 items.

Condition of Property (paragraph 21 of MAR Contract):

All electrical, heating, air conditioning, plumbing (including well and septic) and any other mechanical systems are to be in working condition.

However, the sellers do not have to fix anything!

Kevin

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Hey John,

I always get asked this question along with the dreaded "Would you buy this house?" question.

I try to stay neutral and defer to the Realtor if He/She is present.

I've heard that before and I'm surprised every time. Why is the question so dreaded? Why defer a simple question to the realtor? They hired Kevin to do their inspection because they heard that he's the man. They ask the question because they want the bottom line from the man. Why not just give it to them?

- Jim in Oregon

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Hey John,

I always get asked this question along with the dreaded "Would you buy this house?" question.

I try to stay neutral and defer to the Realtor if He/She is present.

I've heard that before and I'm surprised every time. Why is the question so dreaded? Why defer a simple question to the realtor? They hired Kevin to do their inspection because they heard that he's the man. They ask the question because they want the bottom line from the man. Why not just give it to them?

- Jim in Oregon

Because there is too much information about the Real-estate transaction I don't know about.

I am there to discover as much as I can about the house in a short period of time and put in perspective the items inspected. My job is not to advise them what to ask the sellers to repair. Besides, I don't know what wording was used in the contract the buyer and seller agreed upon. Yes, the Realtors around here uses a state contract but the buyer has every right to hire a lawyer and that lawyer can easily add or subtract wording from that contract. If no agent is involved in the sale of a house, I would have no idea what was written in that contract.

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There's really two questions here. "Would you buy this house?" is different from "Should I buy this house?". I have the following on the FAQs page of my website. It's how I handle it.

Question:

Can the home fail inspection?

Answer:

No.* All homes, even those newly built, will have areas of concern but, typically, everything is capable of being repaired. However, there could be problems serious enough to require extensive and invasive investigation, fully engineered repairs, and the subsequent major expense. The purpose of the inspection and report is to make you fully aware of the areas that need attention so that you can make an informed decision on the purchase.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Question:

Will the inspector tell me whether or not I should buy the home?

Answer:

No.* My job is to make sure that you have a thorough understanding of the condition of the home. Once you are armed with this information, the decision on whether and how to proceed with the transaction can only be made by you, usually with the assistance of your real estate agent.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Question:

* Are there any exceptions to your answers to the above two questions?

Answer:

Of course. If the whole house is leaning over, the foundation is crumbling and sliding down a hill aided by a stream erupting in the crawl space, then I am going to strongly suggest that you might want to look for another home, and maybe even cut this inspection short. Assuming the issues aren't quite that drastic and you ask me "Should I buy this home?" I would normally reply "I don't know your financial circumstances or the details of your offer. Maybe you should ask me if I would let my daughter buy this home". At which point I promise I will be candid and honest and tell you that I don't actually have a daughter, but if I did....

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Hey John,

I always get asked this question along with the dreaded "Would you buy this house?" question.

I try to stay neutral and defer to the Realtor if He/She is present.

I've heard that before and I'm surprised every time. Why is the question so dreaded? Why defer a simple question to the realtor? They hired Kevin to do their inspection because they heard that he's the man. They ask the question because they want the bottom line from the man. Why not just give it to them?

- Jim in Oregon

Because there is too much information about the Real-estate transaction I don't know about.

I am there to discover as much as I can about the house in a short period of time and put in perspective the items inspected. My job is not to advise them what to ask the sellers to repair. Besides, I don't know what wording was used in the contract the buyer and seller agreed upon. Yes, the Realtors around here uses a state contract but the buyer has every right to hire a lawyer and that lawyer can easily add or subtract wording from that contract. If no agent is involved in the sale of a house, I would have no idea what was written in that contract.

None of that has to do with the question "Would you buy this house?"

The stuff you wrote is the answer to the question, "Is this house a good deal?" or maybe, "Should I go through with this transaction?"

The question is straightforward. I still don't understand why people dread it and go through all sorts of verbal gymnastics to avoid it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Hey John,

I always get asked this question along with the dreaded "Would you buy this house?" question.

I try to stay neutral and defer to the Realtor if He/She is present.

I've heard that before and I'm surprised every time. Why is the question so dreaded? Why defer a simple question to the realtor? They hired Kevin to do their inspection because they heard that he's the man. They ask the question because they want the bottom line from the man. Why not just give it to them?

- Jim in Oregon

Because it's not my Job to advise them on whether or not they should/should not purchase a house. They hire me for my professional "opinion" on the condition of the property, period. I'm not there to hold there hand and say "oh, yes this is a lovely home - you should purchase it." Or, "oh, yes this is a POS and you should run."

Simply not my job, and I'm surprised you would suggest that it is. :(

Professional inspectors are impartial third parties; they are not parties to any real estate transaction. There are many factors that come into play when making the home buying decision, and the physical condition of the property is only one of them. Everyone has their own tolerances and abilities in dealing with deficiencies in the condition of the property. Inspectors should stick to what they're good at - Inspecting Houses!

Kevin

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I don't really dread the question; however, it's not a simple yes or no in my view.

As already mentioned, there are financial issues - especially in this market, the buyer may be getting a smoking deal which could take precedent over any defects found.

Yes, I understand the intent of the question and my response is typically:

"If you're prepared to deal with all the stuff found today, then sure, go ahead and buy it."

or

"If you're not prepared to deal with all the stuff and don't have the cash to repair them, then you need to re-think you decision."

Its funny though; I have inspected places in the last several weeks that are priced more than HALF what they were even a year ago. Folks are still greedy - they want the home perfect even though the place is a short sale or foreclosure.

It's about helping the client understand their own expectations in my view.

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Hey John,

I always get asked this question along with the dreaded "Would you buy this house?" question.

I try to stay neutral and defer to the Realtor if He/She is present.

I've heard that before and I'm surprised every time. Why is the question so dreaded? Why defer a simple question to the realtor? They hired Kevin to do their inspection because they heard that he's the man. They ask the question because they want the bottom line from the man. Why not just give it to them?

- Jim in Oregon

Because it's not my Job to advise them on whether or not they should/should not purchase a house. They hire me for my professional "opinion" on the condition of the property, period. I'm not there to hold there hand and say "oh, yes this is a lovely home - you should purchase it." Or, "oh, yes this is a POS and you should run."

Simply not my job, and I'm surprised you would suggest that it is. :(

Professional inspectors are impartial third parties; they are not parties to any real estate transaction. There are many factors that come into play when making the home buying decision, and the physical condition of the property is only one of them. Everyone has their own tolerances and abilities in dealing with deficiencies in the condition of the property. Inspectors should stick to what they're good at - Inspecting Houses!

Kevin

None of that has to do with answering the simple question, "Would you buy this home?"

- Jim in Oregon

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When I'm asked I usually start my answer with something like, "I'm not really in the market for a home, but..."

A little humor goes a long way to difuse tension, whether real or perceived. I finish that statement with a truthful answer and a gentle reminder that my tolerance for repairs and improvements may be very different than theirs. So far everyone gets it.

Tom

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None of that has to do with answering the simple question, "Would you buy this home?"

- Jim in Oregon

Absolutely, it does!! "Would you buy this home?" and "Should I buy this home?" when being asked by the purchaser is really the same thing. They are basically looking for reassurance from you (the inspector) on whether or not they are/will be making the right decision on purchasing the home.

I may indeed have an answer depending on the situation, but once I answer the question and give my "personal" opinion, then I am no longer an objective third party.

I think most professional home inspectors will agree that these are not questions they should be answering.

IMHO.

Kevin

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Mr. Home Inspector, would you buy this house?

Hell no, you wouldn't catch me in this neighborhood after dark plus the home is in need of quite a few repairs, like every other pos in this area. I realize that you don't have much money, and this is about all you can afford, but I recommend you continue renting and pissing your money away.

I thank God every day I'm not in your position.

Will you be paying by check?

Déjà vu..

We talked about this once before:

https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/forum ... house,rent

It's not a black and white question... I'll stick to inspecting homes.

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Actually, the original question was: 'Are the sellers responsible for fixing these things?'

"Would you buy this house?" is completely irrelevent to HI's.

It's analagous to asking your intended's physician: 'Would you marry this woman?"

Whether or not I would buy a particular house or not is wholly irrelevant. My family doesn't have to live there, and I don't have to make the monthly payments. As a courtesy to my clients (some of whom don't understand how foolish a question that is), I don't answer it. I am happy to answer specific questions about the house all day long, but try hard not to get involved where I don't belong.

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I usually answer: No, I already have a house and cannot afford two payments. What you are asking me is are there too many defects or are they so major as to make this a bad financial deal. I don't know your financial situation and don't want to know. All defects can be repaired. Only you can decide if you should buy this house. I recommend you work with your agent to better determine if you should continue with this purchase.

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"Would you buy this house?" is completely irrelevent to HI's.

Maybe I misquoted, but I think it was Katen who posed this question. I think "Would you buy this house" and "Should I buy this house" would be pretty much interpreted the same way in a court of law, whether or not "words mean something".

I was simply curious. As a breed, we spend our days answering people's questions. Then there's the one question that everyone seems to be terrified of. I asked why because I genuinely don't understand why a simple question wouldn't deserve a simple answer. In response, I got an avalanch of moral indignation (MI). I've found that it's generally useless to argue with MI.

- Jim in Oregon

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Hi,

Most of the time, when someone poses the question to me, "If you were me, would you buy this house?" I usually respond with something like, "Uh, uh, you're not roping me into that one. Do you want to know how many ways I've been asked that question? It's not my business whether you buy it or not. I've given you the information that you need. Now it's up to you."

However, there have been times when I've used my own version of Walt Jowers' response and I say something like, "Well, let's put it this way, knowing what I know about the house, and knowing it needs a lot of work, if you were my kid I might not be the happiest father in the world but I probably wouldn't disown you if you bought this house."

Other times I've answered with, "Do you own any running shoes? If so, you need to put them on and run like hell away from this piece of crap."

It mostly depends on my mood; I generally say and report what I'm thinking and usually without thinking about it very carefully first.

Last week, an agent called me up just to ask me in an incredulous tone of voice whether I often state in my reports something like, "The contractor that placed that concrete walk against the bottom course of wood siding on this house was an idiot," I assured her that I do. She was careful to get the name of my company so that she could go back to her office and tell the other 'zoids working there to avoid me like the clap.

The joke's on her; I've been having the busiest season in 13 years. Last week, I referred more work to Rich, Randy and a few others than I could handle. I get maybe 3 - 4% of my work from agent referrals these days and the rest all comes from personnel referrals. It's been so long since I've been in a real estate office or stopped by any open houses that I can't even remember when the last time was.

Just tell 'em the truth or refuse to answer the question. The truth is what they pay you for.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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