A while ago I featured a guest post on how to select a home inspector. However, the one aspect of this task that we didn't cover is whether or not you want to hire a kick-ass inspector - otherwise known as a deal killer.
So maybe these somewhat pejorative terms seem to reveal a bias that I and other realtors (geez, I'm putting myself in the same group as other realtors?) have towards these inspectors. However, the most famous Chicago deal killer (that's how he's known among realtors) actually marketed himself for a while as a "kick-ass" home inspector. He even had a cartoon similar to the one above on his Web site but it's not there now. Maybe he decided it wasn't good for his image. But his blatant use of this term reveals everything about his attitude towards the inspection process and therein lies the problem.
Don't get me wrong. A buyer has the right to hire whatever inspector he or she wants and the goal of the inspection is to uncover all the material problems with the home the buyer is about to purchase. God knows that Chicago has a ton of crappy housing stock. However, the issue with these inspectors is that they have something to prove, they lack balance in the reporting of their findings, they are confrontational, and the first time buyer that uses them may not ever buy a home. The reputation of the deal killer is so bad that we've had some listing agents choose to walk away from a deal rather than let him on the property. I myself have decided that if he ever shows up on one of my listings I will just tell the buyer's agent that the inspection findings will all be discounted by 50%. Just to give you another example of how bad the reputation of this guy is...when you call a listing agent to find out why a previous contract was cancelled on their listing all they have to say is that _________ did the inspection and you immediately understand the problem.
My own experience with the deal killer working for one of my buyers was extremely unpleasant. I went into the inspection assuming we were working on the same side. Apparently he didn't see it that way. The first time I asked him a question he didn't even look up from his work and simply said "I can't talk to you without permission from the buyer". The only thing is that the buyer was standing right next to us and he could have very easily asked the buyer for permission. Instead I had to turn to my buyer and tell him to give the inspector permission to talk to me. What an idiot! Then every time I asked a question he would challenge me with "Are you trying to minimize my findings?" My response was always "Nooooo. I'm asking a question." In the end the listing agent confided in me that she had never seen an inspector act so rudely before.
At one point he was inspecting the furnace in the basement and he noticed some water stains along the side of the intake duct and declared that the basement had flooded. Except I pointed out to him that water stains from a basement flood would be along the entire base of the ductwork and not along the side. I suggested that maybe this was in fact condensation. He conceded that point to me and from that point on he treated me with a bit more respect.
In addition, his final report recommended that the house needed a new roof. Later we brought in a roofing expert who concluded that $500 worth of repairs would do just fine.
Get the picture? You can hire this guy to do your inspections but you need to understand what you are dealing with.