california home inspector

The Problems With California Home Inspector Inspections in Sacramento

california home inspector

We can raise the bar for a California home inspector through licensing or certification.

Part of the difficulty with California home inspector inspections can be traced to why in the world are home inspectors not licensed in California? Yesterday, I wrote a blog about Why There is No Such Thing as a Licensed Home Inspector in California, and in researching this crazy phenomenon, I stumbled across a bill that never reached a vote in the California Legislature. I’m talking about AB 1118, introduced to the 2009-2010 California Legislature by Assembly Member Mary Hayashi. Yes, the same Hayashi whose embarrassing 2012 shopping trip to Neiman Marcus was all over the news for a while.

But don’t hold that incident against her. Representative Hayashi helped to develop a great piece of legislation that never saw the light of day. She wasn’t asking for licensing requirements for a California home inspector, or to set up a new state division to oversee home inspectors. She drafted a proposed bill that would have required home inspectors to be certified by a trade association. Which meant they would have had to achieve some level of competency, through training, field work supervision and testing. Bit the dust!

So the horrific fact that a California home inspector does not need a license nor any type of certification to prepare home inspections in Sacramento continues to this day.

The problem with California home inspector inspections is multi-fold, though. It’s not just incompetent home inspectors who are the culprits causing a crisis. It’s more nuanced than that. For starters, in Sacramento, we typically do not provide inspection reports to the buyer prior to contract acceptance, like real estate is conducted in other parts of the state. Bad home inspections paid for by the buyer are a disclosure once received by the seller, and as such, must be delivered to the new buyer after the existing buyer freaks out and cancels.

That’s a major drawback. Even if the report is bogus, incomplete, and incorrect, it must be handed over to the next buyer. If the seller pays for her own inspection in advance, the buyer will still obtain another, and both reports could showcase different defects. On top of that, we have about 5,000 agents with membership in our Sacramento Board of Realtors. Approximately 90% of those agents sell a house every 3 or 4 months, on average, according to my past research of member records. That’s not very many houses. Agents learn the business through experience.

As a top producer listing agent representing many, many sellers, I warn my clients in advance that the odds of us going into escrow with one of those inexperienced buyer’s agents in that 90 percentile is extremely high. If the home is likely to attract a first-time home buyer, that’s even worse. Because now we face the very real possibility of fighting against what I call the trio of death:

  1. An inexperienced buyer’s agent who doesn’t sell very many homes
  2. A first-time home buyer who knows nothing about home construction
  3. An incompetent California home inspector who could prepare a bad home inspection

You might ask what are those odds? I’m saying they are more likely to happen than not. That’s been my experience, and just over the past 5 years, I’ve been selling on average about 2 homes a week. It means I deal with this crap over and over.

Even though the California Residential Purchase Agreement verbiage says the sale is AS IS and the seller is not required to make repairs, offer a concession or a price reduction, it doesn’t mean buyers won’t jump all over that bad home inspection like tots in a bouncy house. It’s often a mess. The buyer flounders and flails, the buyer’s agent can’t help because she doesn’t know the difference between a polarized receptacle and a doorknob, and the home inspector is out to lunch, pushing his own agenda and bad opinions.

In conclusion, I urge you to write to your state legislature and ask why are home inspectors in California unlicensed? How is this still a thing? You can contact your California State Assembly Members or California State Senators.

This is a relatively new phenomenon in Sacramento real estate. Prior to the late 1990s, home buyers, for the most part, never obtained a home inspection. Now, a real estate agent’s liability is far too great NOT to suggest a home inspection. Almost every home buyer over the past 15 to 20 years now obtains a home inspection. Why doesn’t the state of California see to it that home inspectors are competent?

I help my sellers bypass and / or successfully navigate this travesty in almost every single transaction. My 40+years in the real estate business is a tremendous asset to my sellers. I also seem to represent a lot of lawyers. If you want professional representation from a veteran Realtor who will put your interests first, call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.

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