TIPS FOR DELIVERING A BAD INSPECTION REPORT October 10, 2023 | Inspection Tips , Business Tips | client satisfaction , inspection industry By Jon McCreath, NPI, Inc.'s Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator There’s a reason why “don’t kill the messenger” is such a commonly repeated phrase. Delivering bad news is a tough position to be in, especially when someone is caught blind-sided by the message. Even though you may have not been the cause of the situation, you were the one that disrupted the status quo. Whether fair or not, the one that delivers bad news often becomes the villain, and no one wants to be the villain. Home inspectors are frequently caught in the awkward position of needing to deliver information that clients probably don’t want to hear. The truth of the matter is that issues and defects in homes would exist whether the inspector discovered them or not. It’s only through a thorough home inspection that buyers can make their biggest investment with confidence. For property inspectors, delivering bad news in a calm and courteous manner is a skill worth building. Start by setting the right expectations. Don’t Hide from the Report Many negative reactions from clients can be curbed through establishing a proper understanding before the inspection even begins. Inspectors know very well that no home is perfect, but sellers and buyers (especially first-time homeowners) need to be reminded of this early on. Tell your clients that your job is to discover every major item that could use a repair or update so that they avoid surprises later. Agents and sellers appreciate inspectors who aren’t “alarmist,” but that doesn’t mean hiding points of concern. A good inspector is able to accurately explain any issues or defects without falling into spaces of speculation or hypotheticals, which aren’t ultimately helpful. Context is important, but some inspectors can get caught in the weeds of over-explaining. Clients will have questions, so a good inspector focuses first on providing the information that they need, then expanding upon any areas of confusion or unease. Note: Some phrases and explanations - although they come from a good place - can relay an unintended message! For example: “I’ve got some bad news…” - Leading with this suggests that a home’s issues are beyond salvaging before they’ve even heard about the defect. Present each home’s features as they are, and offer recommendations for how to resolve any issues. Come with Answers and Solutions During an inspection, it can be valuable to take additional notes and pictures when things are discovered that you know will be a topic of discussion. Most buyers will have a limited knowledge on home maintenance and the price range connected to big ticket home features. Perhaps the most important part of a home inspector’s job is to walk their clients through these important features, and discuss processes moving forward. The best way to put a client’s mind at ease after discovering something unfavorable about a house is by providing a solution. Resources for trusted repairs (including their names and numbers), as well as DIY solutions should help put clients at ease as they learn about these issues. With that said, inspectors should be careful about providing referrals since any mistakes or errors caused by these professionals could place blame back on the inspector. When making referrals, offer three or more names, and then point them back to their agent for advice. It may be valuable to point out to clients that they can use any professional they prefer to resolve the issue. The referral options are there mostly to prompt them into their next action and to reassure them that they aren’t trapped in an impossible situation. A client’s imagination can run wild. Good inspectors are able to manage this speculation and lay out a realistic, doable course of action. Be Compassionate and Show Support Remaining calm and sticking to the facts can seem like a nice strategy on paper, but the emotions attached to home ownership can be heightened. A home purchase is likely the largest financial investment a person will make in their lives, so although a home inspector may become comfortable in the routine of their job, it is important to realize the stress and anxiety that is natural in every residential transaction. Act with empathy and kindness while explaining the details of your report, and remind clients that you are their advocate–you’re on their side! Delivering sour news after an inspection takes plenty of tact and sensitivity. Reassure your clients that they don’t have to manage these issues on their own, and follow up with them sometime after wrapping up your report. An additional check-in to answer remaining questions will reinforce this idea and help solidify their decisions. An inexperienced inspector might deliver their report without adequate elaboration and leave their client with what they perceive to be an insurmountable problem on their hands. It is through bringing these concerns into a realistic, navigable perspective that inspectors can keep sales safe while building trust with their clients and agents. For more information on communicating with clients, see what our marketing coach recommends about building those interpersonal skills! Questions about franchising with NPI? Learn more here ! About the Author Jon McCreath, Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator A former NPI franchise owner and real estate agent, Jon joined the NPI corporate team in 2019. With his inspection expertise and foundation in classroom instruction, Jon teaches and mentors new franchisees during their two-week training course in Omaha. He also handles technical support calls during and after office hours and guides franchisees through the state licensing process.