Home inspector ethics put to the test

Is it ever OK to omit disclosures to close a home sale?

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DEAR BARRY: I’ve been a home inspector for more than 10 years and have had some ethical challenges. On a few occasions, agents have asked me to "omit" information from a report to help secure a loan and close the deal. The very idea of this offends me. By omitting disclosures from a report, I would compromise my integrity and the credibility of my profession, all for the sake of future referrals.

My job is to provide genuine disclosure to homebuyers. If I actually miss something during an inspection and learn about it later, I hire a licensed professional to repair the problem. Because of this policy, I have never been sued or even threatened with a lawsuit. Besides that, I sleep well at night. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated. –Larry

DEAR LARRY: The agents who ask you to compromise your reports are more transparent in their dishonesty than the few "bad apples" I’ve worked with. I recall suggestive comments such as, "Hey Barry, this deal is really important to me, so I need a ‘really good’ report." Taking them at their word, I gave them the best (i.e., most complete) report that I could. Before long, I became known as the "deal killer" and received no more referrals from those "bottom-feeders."

The good agents who routinely recommend me — the ones with integrity, who believe in total disclosure — tell me of the unhappy reactions of listing agents who learn that I am scheduled to do the inspection. "Oh no! Not Barry! He’ll kill the deal!"