Assuming Two Risks, Not One

[Note to Readers: The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway, or any other entity referenced. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.]

If Buyers can waive a home inspection altogether (they can), it stands to reason they can use anyone they want to perform the inspection.

That includes their buddy “Steve,”** who was a contractor years ago, and knows something about plumbing ” but maybe not electrical, carpentry, HVAC, radon, roofs or foundations, building codes, various city inspection rules, etc. (customize list as needed).

“The Steve Scenario” (vs. a Pro)

Which is risk #1 using an amateur to inspect a $200,000 (or $800,000) asset: they’ll miss something important.

Just one goof could easily cost a lot more than the $500 — $1,500 all-in fee that professional inspectors charge (variables: house size, and supplemental tests for things like radon, main sewer, well, etc.).

Risk #2?

Liability ” specifically, two kinds: 1) Steve will get injured falling off the roof and sue the Buyer and/or homeowner; or 2) Steve damages the home during the course of his inspection, leaving the Buyer and the less-than-happy Seller to work it out.

Of course, it’s possible for both things to happen.

Which is why savvy Buyer’s agents take care to get the Seller’s permission, in writing, prior to Steve showing up (home sellers, meanwhile, are advised to have good home liability and umbrella insurance).

Of course, if in light of the foregoing, the Seller declines to allow the uninsured buddy to inspect the home . . . it’s all a moot point.

Limited Liability

So, where’s the one area where amateur and professional inspectors are similar?

If they miss something, aggrieved Buyers shouldn’t plan to assuage their pain by suing them.

Professional inspectors typically use contracts that limit their liability to the fee they charged, which they’ll return (don’t worry, top-notch inspectors don’t miss much).

P.S.: Logistically, involving an amateur inspector instead of a pro also complicates life for the Buyer’s agent.

Because Steve won’t have access to MLS or an electronic smart key, the agent will have to set up the appointment for them, then meet them at the house to get them in. That’s in addition to the return trip to the home they’ll make a few hours later, to see and hear the recap, so they can knowledgeably negotiate any inspection issues.

**No offense to all the “Steve’s” I know and like . . . 🙂

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

Leave a Reply