Real Estate Agents and the Peril of Editing the Home Inspection Report

Recently a real estate agent told me her broker recommended editing the home inspector’s report by selecting the reported defects that she, the agent (and her client), thought was most appropriate for the repair request before sending it to the seller’s representative.

A similarly dangerous issue I have experienced in the past is agents paraphrasing comments made in the inspection report, creating their own “summary” of the documented defects, and forwarding that version of the report to the seller’s agent.

What happens when these well-intentioned agents choose wrong or omit a critical detail?

The home inspection is a complicated document describing hundreds of intricate details and defects. While some issues are cosmetic others are visible symptoms of serious problems which, when edited, paraphrased or manipulated, undermine the depth and scope of the inspection. Change the report and you change its meaning.

The real estate agent should never be put in the position of determining which issues are important and which are merely cosmetic. The home inspector was hired because of their unique expertise so editing their report completely undermines their professional opinion. The home inspector has the training, experience and insurance to determine the deficient from the cosmetic – the real estate agent does not.

The real estate contract describes the difference between a cosmetic defect and a structural or mechanical defect. The home inspector should also know the difference and should be able to issue a report that clearly distinguishes between the two. If the agent thinks they know better than the inspector, then it’s time to choose a better inspector.

Every agent should have a short list of qualified, competent, experienced and insured home inspectors and trust them to provide their service without editting and furthermore, expect that inspector to stand by their work and be able to defend their opinions to the client and the seller or their representatives.

Regardless of their knowledge or experience, the real estate agent should never assume the risk of altering a document as comprehensive as a home inspection report.
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