How to Prepare Your Buyers for Inspection
The home-buying process is extensive, and whether you’re dealing with a first-time buyer or someone who is more experienced at it, it never really seems to get easier. Because their are so many steps to buying a home, this means there are many instances in which a buyer can essentially back out of the deal. More often than not, buyers tend to change their mind during the inspection phase, because they learn that there will be “too much work” that needs to go into the home. As this is one of the final steps before closing a deal, real estate agents need to do what they can to keep buyers interested, even if the inspection doesn’t come back the way they had hoped.
Here are some tips to prepare your buyers for inspection so that a deal doesn’t fall out at the last minute:
Fill Your Buyers in on the Process Beforehand
Especially if you’re working with new homebuyers, the best way to avoid having them drop out after a home inspection is to give them as much information about the homebuying process ahead of time. Put emphasis on the parts of the process that may not always run as smoothly as the others, for instance, the home inspection. (And, that no matter the home, the inspection will usually have some issues.)
Provide your clients with a breakdown of what the home inspection will look like, and how they can best prepare mentally, as it can be a rather stressful experience for all parties involved. Allowing clients to take a look at an inspector’s checklist beforehand can aid the process and answer any lingering questions on what to expect. This is mainly because home inspectors are only required to check certain aspects of the house, depending on the state and that inspector’s certifications.
For example, according to The Balance, most home inspectors focus on the structural or physical components of a home. Things like the roof, the walls, the exterior, the electrical systems, and plumbing are all things that are checked in a home inspection. But, things like whether or not the home has asbestos or a rodent issue, may not be a requirement of the inspector. If you are recommending an inspector to your client, make sure you are just as aware of what is and isn’t included, and encourage your homebuyers to do some research beforehand and come to the table with specific questions if necessary.
Explain What Can Be Used as a Bargaining Chip and What Can’t
According to Steve Buzogany, member of Lab Coat Agents, “Set expectations for the buyer. Let them know that the inspection report is going to look like your high school math test…errors everywhere!”
Your homebuyers should be 100% aware of the fact that the home will likely not be in perfect condition before they move in, as much as it may look seem that way. This is especially true if they are looking for a home in a specific area where in general, the homes are much older and will likely have features of it that are not up to today’s codes or living standards.
Therefore, explain to your clients what can and can’t be used as a bargaining chip against the seller. While major issues with the home that would make it unlivable are more likely to push the seller to negotiate, that’s not always the case (think of people who sell their homes “as is”).
Additionally, any minor issues that do not make the home unlivable in any way but just may not be the nicest to look at, are probably not even worth mentioning. Buying a home means preparing to take on the responsibilities of a homeowner, and the seller is not technically required to bring the home up to code if there’s an issue, but if they don’t have too many other buyers looking, then they may be willing to lower the price. It’s important for your buyers to understand how much leverage they have, if any, before making any requests.
Ask What Their Deal Breakers Are
Before going into the home inspection phase, get an idea of what your client’s deal breakers are. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t hurt to ask these questions when you begin house hunting together. Not to say that the real estate agent is expected to know everything that’s wrong with a home, but if your client seems extremely picky, it may be worth showing them newer, updated homes, including homes where the previous owners only lived for a short time.
Knowing what their deal breakers are can help lower the chance that they will back out during inspection, because you’ll have already made sure to find a home that meets most of their expectations.
Invite Your Buyers to Bring in Their Own Inspector
Every good real estate professional should have relationships with other people in the industry. Knowing who to call upon at certain steps in the home buying process can help establish your reputation and lead to tons of recommendations. Most real estate agents will have their own inspectors to refer to their homebuyers, but you should also always invite your buyers to bring in their own inspector if that’s something they feel more comfortable with. But, from your point of view, it’s okay to remind your clients that the longer they take with going through several inspectors, the chances are someone else could close a deal in the meantime.
Tell the Buyer to Accompany the Inspector
If your client wants to be sure the job is done right no matter who the inspector is, encourage them to join the inspector on the inspection. Of course, certain inspectors may have their own rules about this, but if it’s something that will make your buyer feel better, speed up the process, and ideally prevent them from dropping out of the deal post-inspection, then help them see what options may be available.
Remind Them That This is a Future “To-Do” List
Finally, if your homebuyers absolutely love the home, the location, and the price, but they are disappointed after the home inspection, remind them that this the home inspection report is essentially a future to-do list. As long as you’re being truthful with them, in most cases not everything from a home inspection needs to be dealt with right away (unless it does). If your client plans to make this place their forever home, then they have decades to get the work done that they want to do.
And, the good side of that is they can decide to put their money towards other thing in the meantime. When the time comes to start checking items off that to-do list, they will be able to take their time to choose the right person for the job and at the right price, and not when they are stressing about closing a deal getting into their home.
What are your home inspection horror stories, and what have you done to keep a buyer on board even when the inspection came back poor? Let us know in the comments below!