Deal Killers: The Best Kept Secret in Real Estate

Office life

The best kept secret in today’s Real Estate industry is that of the “Deal Killer”. The deal killer essentially refers to a home inspector who is widely known in his or her area as being extremely thorough and critical with their home inspections. The deal killers are the home inspectors that find and actually report on as many issues with a home that they can find. You will very rarely find a deal killer on your Realtors “list of preferred home inspectors” that they hand to you after you sign a purchase agreement.

To some in this industry, the deal killer is an adversary, just another bump in the road, another obstacle to overcome on the way to the closing table. Many Realtors will try to dismiss the actual true meaning behind the deal killer epitaph and sugarcoat it with another description. The most common description you will hear is that a deal killer is a home inspector who “makes mountains out of molehills”. If you think about it from a common sense standpoint, home inspectors have absolutely no vested interest in the home you are purchasing, however your Realtor does. So why on earth would any home inspector make mountains out of molehills? The answer is simple…they don’t. If a home inspector is calling it a mountain, you can rest assured it most likely is.

So why do the good home inspectors get tagged as deal killers for identifying the home’s issues? We don’t just make up issues found during the home inspection process, we are specifically trained to find and report on these issues. This is what our clients are paying us for in the first place. As home inspectors, we get paid to identify and document the actual and true condition of the home we are inspecting. Any way you look at it, that is our job. Some in this industry claim that the deal killer is too critical. How is it possible to be too critical when you are a home inspector? The very nature of this profession is to identify what is right and what is wrong with a home.

The vast majority of home inspections reveal that most homes are in relatively good condition, however some homes do have several issues that are never disclosed until inspection day. Moisture issues, structural issues, rot, mold and termite infestations are often very hard issues to deal with during the negotiation process and unfortunately some of these deals die an agonizing death. It truly amazes me that homes with these and other issues don’t get the blame for killing their own deal. I suppose it is just easier to blame the home inspector rather than the home itself or better yet, the seller who has neglected the home in the first place.

I have often stated that some Realtors seem to prefer the one eyed, one legged home inspector that can’t see everything and can’t get to everything. Home buyers on the other hand want to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the property that they are buying and they want their home inspector to be as critical as possible.

Some Realtors will hand you a list of three home inspectors who have been carefully screened not to be deal killers. The reason the list contains at least three inspectors is so that it is long enough to protect the Realtor from any referral liability should the client want to blame the Realtor for any mistakes made by the inspector during the home inspection. This gives the Realtor the perfect combination of: 1) no liability for the referral; 2) the buyer ultimately “chooses” an inspector; and 3) the buyer’s choice is still confined to a dependent home inspector who will not hurt or kill a sale. It truly is a vicious cycle that has been going on in this industry since Moses was a kid and unfortunately will continue until legislation is put in place to stop it.

It may sound like I am condemning all Realtors and that is not my intention whatsoever. There are many Realtors who refer deal killers by name and are completely sold on open disclosure and thorough home inspection reporting. These are Realtors who have built their businesses on good work ethics, morals and the philosophy that if there is going to be an issue to deal with, then it is much better to deal with it before closing rather than after the deal closes and their clients move into their home. The problem is, how do you as a home buyer know whether or not you are working with one of these Realtors? The answer is, you don’t.

It has been my experience as well as many others in this industry that most, if not all prospective home buyers want a deal killer to inspect their new home. So how do you find the deal killers when choosing a home inspector? Most home inspectors do not advertise the fact that they are a deal killer because they fear that it may hurt their business. You will need to practice your due diligence and choose your home inspector wisely. 

First and foremost, throw the “preferred list of home inspectors” you receive from your Realtor in the trash. Ask friends, family and co-workers about their home inspection experiences. Anyone who has had a positive experience with a home inspector will be quick to tell you about it and it is a great place to start. 

Get online. Over 87% of home buyers use the Internet when in need of a product or service. Another well kept secret is that the deal killers will always have a website. Since many Realtors do not and will not refer the deal killers to their clients, the deal killer has to get his or her business from somewhere. In most cases, the deal killers website is their main source of work. 

Check with Angie’s List, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. These are sites where you will find the deal killers shine because of their rave reviews from clients who bypassed the Realtors recommendation and went out on their own to find a home inspector.

Call around and talk to home inspectors in your area. You can usually tell the good inspectors from the bad just by talking to them. Ask them about their experience, how many inspections they have performed, where the bulk of their referrals come from and last but not least, come right out and ask them if they are considered a deal killer. The real ones will tell you straight up. If a home inspector comes out and actually admits to you that they are a deal killer, book your home inspection right then and there, and then relax, you will be in good hands.