One question you have to ask your estate agent today
South African home buyers who are ever more aware of their consumer rights are demanding increasing transparency regarding the pricing of the home, its condition and the legality of the structures and installations.
John Graham, CEO of HouseCheck, says both home inspection companies and estate agents need to find ways to embrace this new market reality and to find ways to work together without compromising the professionalism of either.
In South Africa the fledgling home inspection industry has been viewed with suspicion by many estate agents who often view home inspectors as “negative deal-killers” who are more interested in being hyper-critical, rather than adopting a pragmatic and realistic approach to home inspection.
Some home inspection outfits have not helped their cause by trumpeting property “horror stories” and implying that estate agents are out to collude with sellers in order to deceive buyers.
Setting the record straight
HouseCheck works actively to foster professional and respectful relationships with estate agents, while at the same time striving to present buyers with factual and detailed reports on the condition of a house.
HouseCheck has taken the following steps to achieve this goal:
- HouseCheck reports state upfront that “no house is perfect” and that all structures deteriorate and require on-going maintenance.
- HouseCheck reports distinguish clearly between “maintenance items” on the one hand, and “structural, safety and functional defects” on the other. Detailed cost estimate breakdowns for each category are provided by HouseCheck. This information enables buyers and sellers to take a realistic view on both immediate repairs required and to also get a handle on on-going maintenance issues.
- HouseCheck routinely makes its reports available to the estate agent involved in the deal – at the same time that the client receives the report. HouseCheck is able to do this because it retains ownership of the report at all times. HouseCheck takes the view that its reports are both factual and objective and therefore should be used in the interests of encouraging informed decision-making transparency between seller, buyer and estate agent.
- If serious problems are discovered during the inspection, HouseCheck inspectors will often phone the estate agent and advise the agent of the issues so that the agent can become involved in informed price counseling of seller and buyer.
- In order to retain objectivity, HouseCheck does not undertake repairs or receive kick-backs from contractors, estate agents or anyone else.
- HouseCheck reports, which are available within one working day of the inspection, are all thoroughly checked by quality control experts to ensure that HouseCheck reports achieve a uniform high standard of accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Embrace the transparency introduced by the home inspection process. Understand that a professional home inspection report at the time of offer virtually eliminates the possibility of post-sale comebacks and complaints from buyers.
Develop a relationship with a professional home inspector in your area who you can recommend with confidence. This relationship should be based on a professional foundation of mutual respect for the role that each party plays in the sales process.
Talk to sellers about the wisdom of a pre-listing home inspection. This enables the seller and agent to price the house realistically after taking into account the actual condition of the house and after the seller has completed any or all of the repairs as detailed in the inspection report.
Show the seller how the transparency created by a home inspection can create confidence with buyers and differentiate the inspected property.
Contrary to popular opinion that home inspection slows down or kills sales, because potential buyer objections are credibly addressed upfront, a seller’s home inspection report can actually facilitate and speed up the sales process as the buyer does not need to either make a “guesstimate” of repairs and a heavily discounted offer, or, alternatively, make an offer subject to a satisfactory home inspection.
Point out to the seller that buyers usually exaggerate the cost of fixing observed defects and a good home inspection report reduces the buyer’s power to demand unrealistic price discounts by introducing objectivity and reality into the sales negotiation.
Who is John Graham?
John Graham is a South African who has spent more than 30 years in the property industry. He has hands-on experience as a developer, investor, estate agent, home builder and property inspector. John is the founder and CEO of HouseCheck and the principal of the SA Home Inspection Training Academy. He is the author of a number of popular eBooks including: The South African Home Buyer’s Guide; Quality Control for South African Home Building and The Complete Guide to South African Home Inspection.