Home inspection red flags

Buyers correct to question advice on defects, structural integrity

DEAR BARRY: Is it better to find your own home inspector or to hire the one chosen by the real estate agent? We’re looking at an old home, and the agent’s inspector says there’s nothing wrong with the place. His report states that "it’s structurally sound," but we’re plagued with concerns. The electric outlets are the old two-prong kind, but the inspection report said nothing about this. Shouldn’t this have been mentioned in the inspection report? –Stephan

DEAR STEPHAN: Reliance on a real estate agent’s home inspector is not necessarily a right or wrong decision. Many agents endorse only the best inspectors, while others recommend those of lesser qualifications. Your job is to do some homework to guard your own financial interests.

Rather than reject an inspector outright, simply because the referral was made by an agent, you should review the credentials of several home inspectors, including the one advised by your agent. Then hire the person with the most experience and the best reputation for thoroughness.

In your situation, however, there are some items of concern. The first red flag was waved when the home inspector said "there’s nothing wrong with the place." No house is totally free of defects. Even the most well-constructed, brand-new home has conditions that warrant correction. In an old home, the suggestion that there is "nothing wrong" is a challenge to common sense.