The difficult part of being a home inspector is delivering potentially bad news. You never know how a home buyer will take such news. Some buyers will shrug it off as no big deal, while others may feel that is a justified reason to not buy the house.
As such, nervous sellers and listing agents often ask can a home inspection kill a deal?
For the most part, a home inspector can not kill a deal. Only the buyer can decide to walk away. But, as a home inspector buddy once said “Some houses may commit suicide”. Let’s look at common reasons deals fall apart after the inspection
Buyers Have High Expectations
No home is ever perfect. In all our years, we have never gone to a house and not found something. Even new construction can be a nightmare.
In Los Angeles, the median age of a home is almost 60 years old, with many being even older. Buyers need to be aware even the best-looking homes are going to have issues come up during the inspection process.
Yet, some buyers feel like a home should be perfect, or are simply unaware of how many little issues the average home has. As I often tell clients, yes, this home has issues, but if we inspected every home on this street, we’d likely find similar issues over and over again.
Many times we have clients who back out of the first deal, kill the 2nd deal, and then after the 3rd inspection, they realize the first inspection wasn’t so bad after all.
Popular TV shows such as “Fip or Flop”, “Flip this House” “My First Flip” and more show the glamorous side of flipping. Such shows go into picking out the tile, the counters, and the money they claim they make on flipping a home. What those TV shows do not show are the less glamorous side of home repair, which leads to people thinking they can flip a house without understanding what it really takes. Many times in these shows, for dramatic effect, they show that the flippers “don’t realize” a key item that will suddenly cost them more money.
Then as the home inspector, we end up being the bearer of bad news, explaining that despite the new tile, new floors, and new paint, these Top 10 Things Missed on a Home Renovation still need to be addressed. Often these overlooked issues are expensive and kill the deal.
The Listing Has Oversold the Property’s Conditions
Another somewhat common issue is sellers have a strong emotional attachment to their home, and how they think of their home may be different than what others think of their home. A common occurrence is the seller’s claims they recently replaced the HVAC system. But the home inspector finds the HVAC system is 18 years old. Well, if you have lived in your home for 50 years, 18 years may feel recent. What is “like new” to one person may not seem “like new” to others.
Another home had listed that there was enough space in the yard to install a swimming pool. What the listing failed to mention is the land was on a hillside, making a pool very difficult to install. The buyer didn’t even let us finish the inspection before they killed the deal.
Buyers Have Personal Feelings About An Issue
We once had a buyer hire us to inspect 4 homes in a row. It really didn’t matter what the condition of the home was or wasn’t, if he found any evidence of possible rodent droppings, he would kill the deal. He didn’t care what we said about the foundation, the roof, or anything most people find important, he focused solely on rodent droppings.
A retired inspector once told me a story about how clients backed out of a deal simply because the home did not have window screens. For most home buyers, replacing window screens is relatively inexpensive compared to the price of a home, and this could have easily been fixed. But for these people, they had such a strong feeling about window screens, it was a deal killer to them.
Buyers Notice Aspects About The Home They Don’t Like
A common occurrence is the buyers blame the home inspection, not for what is in the report, but for other things about the house that are only noticed during the inspection process. Most people when viewing homes for sale, will visit numerous homes, and usually only have 15-20 minutes to view a house before it’s off to the next one.
Then during the inspection, they suddenly have 2 or 3 hours or more to sit in the house. That’s when they start noticing aspects about the neighborhood, the layout, or just how the crown molding was cut that they don’t like. These issues have nothing to do with the inspection but will cause the buyers to want to kill the deal. And blaming what the home inspector found is much easier than admitting they made an offer on a house that they just don’t like.
One example is the buyers had visited the property twice, both on a Saturday. When we arrived for the inspection, it was a Wednesday. The machine shop next door that had been closed on Saturdays was now going full blast during the week. The buyers lost all interest in the property well before the inspection was complete.
On another home, the buyer realized during the inspection he was buying a much bigger home than he really needed. He kept talking to me about how cleaning and maintaining such a large home was more than he could handle. It became clear he just didn’t want the home anymore. However, he told his agent he was backing out due to an electrical issue we found. Did the home inspection kill a deal? No, but the process made the buyer kill the deal.
Some Deals Simply Commit Suicide
Despite the many instances where the buyer may back out of a deal that has little to nothing about the inspection itself, some houses simply have way more issues than most buyers are willing to deal with. If a home has serious foundation damage, significant electrical problems, a worn roof, roots in the sewer, etc, all these problems can add up. Unless the buyer has a serious budget for renovations, some houses may just not be right for the buyer. Can a home inspection kill a deal? If it’s not the right house for the buyer, some deals kill themselves.
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