As a home inspector in Southern California, it is in the nature of our profession to encounter difficult realtors, the ones that do not believe in full disclosure when it comes to discovering defects on a property. It is important to educate realtors on the ethical and legal requirements to disclose defects when we are inspecting and reporting them to our clients. Many realtors do not understand the legal ramifications for not reporting defects when observed, and real estate is a very litigous business. There are constructive methods with handling difficult realtors, here are some examples and actual conversations with some realtors....
Realtor's question: "The Sellers House was constructed in the 1950's and GFCI outlets were not a code requirement then, why are you stating in your report they should be installed?"
My answer: My clients' safety is my number one priority, and although a home inspection is not a code-compliance inspection, I always recommend the latest new construction code safety requirements including GFCI's on every property and year of construction. It is my duty to inform my client of these safety features, so they can make their own decisions.
Realtor's question: Why are you reporting on moisture stains on the garage ceiling that appear to old and are dry and this is going to cause problems for my deal?
My answer: It is my duty to my client and the buyer to report moisture stains that could imply a previous roof or plumbing leak, and they should have any suspicious stains further evaluated by a licensed specialist or obtain information from the sellers regarding any previous repairs, etc. It is my job as a home inspector to observe and report. Stains on drywall may also require destructive testing, meaning removing the drywall to determine the cause of the leak and additional moisture intrustion damage or mold could be present.
Realtor's question: You stated in your report, that all the Asbestos ducts confirmed tested and present should be removed from the home and be replaced with newer ducts, this is going to kill my deal!
My answer: My clients safety is my priority, and because asbestos is such a litigous issue, I always recommend that they be futher evaluated by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. The Environmental Protection Agency states that if asbestos is not damaged or duct material is not friable then it (may) be safe. Since I am not a licensed asbestos contractor, I am unable to make this determination and it is my opinion as a home inspector to recommend the replacement of asbestos ducts for obvious safety reasons. It is my clients discretion and choice to decide what should be done.
In summary, always advise realtors that the buyer is also your client and you have a duty to protect them and protect "everyone" in the transaction. Failure to disclose defects plagues the real estate industry with lawsuits that will result in costly damages that can far surpass any commission. Choose to do business with ethical realtors, ones that prefer full disclosure and whenever in doubt... Just remember these magic words... Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!