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This is an article by Joseph V. Scaduto, the Executive Director of SPREI (Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors).

“Babes In the Woods”

It’s amazing to me how many homebuyers don’t realize and understand that, in most instances, the only true friend that they have at the home inspections, is the home inspector. That is assuming that the home inspector follows a strict code of ethics, is an honorable person, and is working strictly for home buying client, and not surreptitiously for the agents.

How many times have buyers said to me, “Oh, here is my broker”! No matter how many times that I hear it – I still cringe, ever so slightly, on hearing this all too common remark. What does “my broker” really mean? Is the buyer paying this person a fee for services rendered? Does this person perform any services that will aid the buyer in making an informed judgment on whether or not to purchase the property? Unless the agent is a buyer’s agent, in the truest sense, than I think not.

Speaking of buyer’s brokers, many agents have jumped on the buyer broker wagon. Where in the past the term for these same agents was “selling agent”, we now see these same selling agents calling themselves “buyer’s agents’. In many such instances we have what is tantamount to wolves in sheep’s clothing. With the broker basically still performing the same services of the selling agent, and only giving lip services to homebuyer.

Not to take a totally negative tack on this relatively new job title, we will concede that there are many dedicated true buyer’s brokers who serve their client’s well. These agents perform valuable services for their clients and help them through the often times, difficult procedure for buying a house, and making it somewhat easier. But in our experience these are a few rare individual in a large population of so-called buyers’ agents.

It is also equally amazing to me when I find out that these same agents who are suppose to be working for their clients (the home buyers), recommending home inspectors, who have at best – poor reputations for performing home inspections.

A recent commercial inspection brings this to light and is a prime example of the conflicts of interest inherent in the real estate transaction. A client called our office for a commercial inspection. Her attorney had highly recommended our services to her. We agreed to do the inspection. When the so-called broker agent heard that it was our firm that would be doing this inspection, she went ballistic. She informed our client that we were the worst inspection company in the state, that we were deal killers, and that this father and son team were respectively referred to, by all real estate agents, as DOOM and GLOOM.

She next handed my client a list of preferred home inspectors who she highly endorsed. And you guessed it, every name (all 5 of them) on that list had reputations among the legitimate home inspection community as hacks. The two names at the top of the list were multi-inspector companies that had a string of lawsuits that stretched all the way from Cape Cod to the surrounding states bordering Massachusetts.

I personally had been employed as an expert witness against these same sleaze-ball companies. And I am proud to say that thanks to my expert witness testimony, these unscrupulous firms had to pay substantial sums to those unsuspecting homebuyers who had used their services.

My client, being an intelligent young lady, then asked the agent why would her lawyer recommend someone that was so bad. The agent had no answer for that question. With that my client told the agent we would be doing her inspection. The end of that story was that after our inspection the client was able to negotiate $35,000 off of the asking price due to the amount of structural damage and mechanical repairs and upgrades needed on this property. We wondered aloud to our client if the Buyer’s Agent preferred inspectors would have caught all of the existing problems in the building. We think not!

What then can be done to educate the home buying public as to what constitutes a genuine professional inspection?

We feel that all of the national and state inspection trade organizations, as well as the various educational facilities that train home inspectors, should make it part of their jurisdiction to educate the public. We also feel that it is incumbent upon the various state and municipal entities that service the consumer to make a concerted effort to educate the consumer. Those states that have an office of consumer Affairs (or similar type office) should publish brochures as to what a home inspection should consist of, as well as what a consumer should expect from a qualified home inspector. And finally, the individual home inspector should act as a self-appointed ambassador to the general public in presenting what the home inspection profession is all about.

All of the aforementioned steps are necessary to truly inform and educate the consumer, and to particularly avoid the often times illegitimate impression given by those vested interests in what constitutes a professional home inspection. Hopefully, in time, the consumer will be fully educated as to what to expect of a home inspection and where to find a truly qualified home inspector.


Beware of cheap inspections, for, in fact, that is what you will get. Many inspections involve a limited liability contract which absolves the inspector for any damage and property defects that were missed. The cheap price also involves an inspector running 3-4 inspections a day leaving no time to do any inspection properly. If you want to save money your realtor's commisson is the best place to start, they are all negotiable. Don't try to save a few dollars that could COST you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the future!