What is a Home Inspection Contingency?

A home inspection is critical to home buyers with a home inspection contingency in a purchase agreement. Professional standards drive your business reputation and help clients.

The Buyer’s Ticking Clock

A home inspection contingency is a clause in the real estate agreement requiring a professional home inspection within a specific time frame if the buyer wishes to use your findings as part of their contract.

Buyers request the contingency because it ensures they receive vital information about the home’s current state that allows them to negotiate repairs and sale price or even walk away with their earnest money deposit. The contingent offer provides a buyer with protection and negotiating leverage. 

Before You Say Yes

Before you agree to a contingency inspection, know the deadline date. You’ll need to schedule the inspection within the timeframe. And, you’ll also need to give the client the inspection report before the deadline, so they have time to look over your findings and then, make a decision about negotiations.

You’re on the hot-seat deadline and under a time bind to provide critical information. 

Your Role in the Process 

You are right there in the middle between the buyer and the seller. There are real estate professionals and sometimes even an attorney. But, remember, you are there to serve your client. They are the only ones that matter. 

The real estate agent created the contractual requirement of the contingent home inspection. They created the timelines to make sure the overall process gets completed within the next five to 60 days. Yes, some areas with hot markets have a 5-day time limit. 

Even though the brokers put us in as part of the contractual requirements, we serve the client, not the real estate professional. You know that sellers want you to find nothing, and buyers want you to find every little flaw. 

Your role is to present an unbiased, objective report on the home’s condition on the day of the inspection. That’s it. 

How ASHI Helps

One of the best ways to assure your client they are receiving a professional home inspection is to talk about your ASHI affiliation. Explain how you use the ASHI Standard of Practice and that it is your guideline for performing an inspection.

Buyers want you to check every little thing, so be proactive. Explain how some areas of the home are not included: 

  • Concealed attic load-bearing components
  • Fences, boundary walls, and similar structures
  • Outbuildings other than garages and carports
  • Interiors of vent systems, flues, and chimneys that are not readily accessible
  • Wells, well pumps, and water storage-related equipment
  • Solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy water heating systems
  • Ancillary wiring systems and components not a part of the primary electrical power distribution system
  • Heat-recovery and similar whole-house mechanical ventilation systems
  • Cooling units that are not permanently installed or that are installed in windows
  • Paint, wallpaper, and other finish treatments
  • Central vacuum systems
  • Fuel-burning fireplaces and appliances located outside the inspected structures.
  • Concealed conditions, latent defects, consequential damages
  • Cosmetic imperfections that do not significantly affect a component’s performance of its intended function

At the same time, review the scope of the inspection and the detailed findings that will help them make a decision.

Put Aside Client Concerns

Buyers, especially first-time buyers, are nervous. They are making a huge decision in their personal life. To you, contingency or not, it’s another inspection. Help relieve their concerns by emphasizing your professionalism. 

As a professional, you have a Code of Ethics you apply to your business and each and every home inspection. Assure your client that you are not being paid by anyone else. You are doing this inspection for them. 

You will report on the safety and sound condition of the home as you find it today. Your findings will help them make a calculated decision about purchasing the home or negotiating for a better price. 

When it comes to repairs and remediation, if you make local suggestions, remind them that your Code of Ethics keeps you from receiving any payment for contractor referrals. Or, if their real estate professional recommended you, that was because of your professional reputation and not any financial rewards.

Why Contingency is a Smart Choice for Buyers

You are there to help them make important decisions before they finalize the contract. Your inspection helps them make sure they are making the right, best choice about moving forward or breaking away from a contractual agreement. 

Explain how the contingency clause protects them from a home that is unsafe or needs expensive repairs. If you discover any serious findings, they have the ability, and the right, to move away from the contract. 

Your findings and recommendations give your client talking points during negotiation. Your findings educate them on structural and safety issues they may not have considered when they loved the apple tree outside the kitchen window. 

How Contingency Inspections Help Your Business 

The game is tied 14-14, 4th quarter, 0:07 seconds left on the game clock, you trot in as the kicker after sitting on the bench for the past 59+ minutes, and split the uprights delivering truth for the win.

Your thorough professional inspection and detailed report are just what your client needs to make their buying decision. Your objective, unbiased approach to evaluating the home’s condition gives them the solid foundation to speak knowledgeably with real estate professionals and contractors. Your inspection many times is the fulcrum of the teeter-totter between buying or not buying.

Even if your client decides to back out of the contract, you’ve saved them from frustration and expensive repairs. Your professional standards and ethics reassure them that your inspection service is a wise choice. When they find another home choice, you will be their go-to resource to evaluate that home. 

And if they go forward with the purchase, they know they are making a choice based on solid information. When your professional service impacts your client’s life, they will remember you. And that’s how word-of-mouth referrals work. 

Your client wins because they have the information they need to make a wise decision. You win because your professional standards served them and your business reputation. Reach out to us at support@inspect.com if you’re looking to take command of your online presence.


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