Should a Real Estate agent control the Inspector selection process?

A deal Killer?

There are many tactics used, some subtle and some not so subtle. The agent may discourage the potential buyer from using a certain inspector by making comments like: “That inspector is a deal killer”. The derogatory phrase “deal killer” is often used by some real estate agents to describe independent home inspectors who give buyers objective information in an inspection report, which may lead the buyer to renegotiate or to look at other properties. Some real estate agents view independent home inspectors as a challenge to their ability to generate income. They view these “deal killers” as foes and will use a number of tactics to control the inspector selection process to make sure that the prospective buyers do not retain independent home inspectors. Realtors may also use phrases such as: “that inspector takes too long”, “we’ve had trouble with that inspector”, “we don’t allow that inspector to inspect any of our listed properties”, “that inspector is too expensive”, “that inspector doesn’t carry insurance”, “that inspector isn’t on our approved list”, or many other statements. A twist on the fee tactic is to advise the prospective buyer that they should expect a home inspector to charge around $150 or $200. By advising homebuyers to expect these low (unrealistic) fees, agents are trying to steer homebuyers to certain inspectors, because the prospective homebuyers might limit their search to the arbitrary price range set by the real estate agent.

The tactics used to encourage a prospective buyer to use a particular inspector include: “We’ve had good luck with this inspector”, this inspector has the lowest fee”, “we use this inspector all the time”, “this inspector can schedule an inspection on a day’s notice”, “this inspector only takes an hour and he gives you a report right on the spot”, “this inspector is on our approved list”. For instance, in the first stage of discussion about having the home inspected, the real estate agent may recommend to the buyer a “good” home inspector with whom they have worked with for several years. Some agents may have a list of three inspectors who have been carefully screened not to be deal killers. The list, however, will be long enough to protect the agent from any referral liability should the buyer want to blame the agent for any inspection mistakes. This gives the agent the perfect combination of: A) No liability for the referral; B) The buyer “chooses” an inspector the agent prefers; and C) The buyer?s choice is limited to home inspectors who will not hurt the sale.