4 Items Home Inspectors Can’t Evaluate

February 5, 2019

When a home inspector examines the property your buyer is under contract to purchase, you should know that there are some items the inspector legally can’t determine about its condition. Inspectors are bound by a set of rules that limit what they can share with a buyer. HouseLogic.com, the National Association of REALTORS®’ consumer-facing website, recently highlighted several points that home inspectors can’t tell a buyer about.

  1. Doctor's stethoscope on model of house

    © Peter Dazeley – DigitalVision/Getty Images

    Termites, rats, or mold. Most inspectors aren’t licensed to determine whether these types of infestations exist. Instead, they may note evidence such as sagging floors (which could imply a termite problem), shredded insulation (an indication of rats), or black discoloration on the walls (which could mean fungal growth). If an inspector notices these items, your client should follow up with a specialist who can better evaluate the issues.

  2. Hidden flaws. Inspectors check for what they can physically see without having to move anything. Therefore, they may not be able to say whether the foundation is cracked behind the wood paneling or an electrical plug behind a sofa isn’t working. Inspectors should note if they are unable to evaluate a critical component of the home. In some situations, the seller could be asked to move an item in order to give the inspector a better view.
  3. Evaluations of pools or septic systems. Specialists may be required to come in to take a closer look at certain aspects of the home. Inspectors are not certified to inspect everything. “We’re general practitioners,” says Larry Fowler, a home inspector in Knoxville, Tenn. A pool inspector and an expert on septic systems or wells may need to conduct a more thorough inspection of some units in the home.
  4. Unnecessary repairs. Inspectors may take note of every little flaw in a home, from chipped paint to window scratches. That could leave your buyer with an overwhelming list of defects. “Some inspectors like to show they know more than somebody else,” Fowler says. Buyers shouldn’t necessarily freak out if their inspection report contains pages of items. A real estate professional can talk them through what could affect their offer and what is just normal wear and tear.