By now we all know that new rules make getting a mortgage as challenging as finding your way blindfolded through a cornfield labyrinth. Then there are the TV shows that feature fabulous, million dollar homes … all the while, unintentionally building buyer expectations that the more average-priced home they’re looking for will have those same high-end features. And then there are the things that used to be positive: I give you, The Pre-Listing Inspection. That thoughtful idea is not the solution it once was – at least, not lately. Intended to find items that need to be repaired before the listing goes on the market, the sellers’ pre-listing inspection won’t match up to a buyers’ inspection. Inevitably, the buyers’ inspection will be different, and will provide a laundry list of problems not even hinted at in the previous inspection.

Which inspection is right? Which can be relied on as correct when there are different opinions? Assuredly, doubt results in the minds of the buyers and the sellers, and with doubt all hell breaks lose.

I received a report after a buyers’ inspection that a house had structural issues. The report indicated that an exterior wall was bowing, yet nothing even close to that serious came up in the pre-listing inspection. The seller immediately agreed to bring in a licensed structural engineer who reported back no structural problem. The only good the engineer’s report did was to fan the sellers when they fainted as the buyers ran screaming from the property, sure the house would cave in. They were left scratching their heads, unsure how to come back from a problem that didn’t exist.

Intuition tells me that home inspectors are well-intended, yet concerned they’ll be sued if they don’t list every detail. But sometimes the list of items goes overboard – take for example another buyers’ inspection that noted a “dented door knob” and that it “should be evaluated.” Really?

Caveat emptor not withstanding, perhaps there needs to be a reality check – that all homes have issues, that inspection reports are not sacrosanct, and that if a home is pre-inspected, you may not get all the answers you hoped for.

Your thoughts and comments?