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Reuben Saltzman

Walk-through consultations are still legit

The President of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), John Wessling, released a letter this month to discuss walk-through consultations. Many home inspectors are interpreting this letter to say home inspectors should not conduct walk-through consultations, but that’s not at all what the letter says, nor is it meant to say. To start, here’s a copy of the letter, which I have permission to share:  ASHI Letter May 2022

What the letter says

The first three paragraphs of this letter discuss ASHI, inspection standards, and the importance of home inspections. The next paragraph gets to the heart of the issue:

We believe that the economic circumstances in the real estate market do not excuse the full and complete performance of the required home inspection.

I agree with all of that except for the word “required.” I’m not aware of home inspections being required anywhere in the country.

We further believe that consumers should not be forced or pressured into compromising their economic and safety interests (including those of their minor children) because of current real estate market conditions; and that a seller’s market should not excuse a home buyer’s protection.

Amen, brother, I agree.

Inspectors are expected to follow the ASHI Standard of Practice and, of course, any required state standards and other pertinent requirements where they practice their profession.

Who could possibly argue with that? All true. But let me be very clear about this: a walk-through consultation is not a home inspection and has nothing to do with the ASHI Standard of Practice. There is absolutely no mention of walk-through consultations here.

That means a full inspection, an applicable signed inspection agreement, and written reports issued to the client.

Yep, all true. For a home inspection. But this has nothing to do with walk-through consultations.

The next paragraph says that home inspection insurance companies likely require a signed agreement before conducting a home inspection, which is also accurate. My insurance carrier requires a signed agreement for every service we conduct, including walk-through consultations.

The closing paragraph urges home inspectors to follow the ASHI Standard of Practice and to follow all local laws and regulations. Nothing to argue with there.

In Closing

There is no new information in this letter. ASHI is not taking a stand for or against walk-through consultations. I had a conversation with John Wessling to make sure I’m understanding this letter correctly, and it means exactly what I just said. John told me he wrote his letter to encourage home inspectors to follow their local requirements. If a home inspector works in a state where walk-through consultations are not allowed, then don’t do them. For anyone else, it’s game on.

I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: a walk-through consultation is not a substitute for a home inspection. But it’s a whole lot better than nothing. To hear about a recent gigantic win from a walk-through consultation, check out Whoever buys this house will be in for a nasty surprise.

4 responses to “Walk-through consultations are still legit”

  1. Anthony Kelly
    May 24, 2022, 2:11 pm

    You make the essential point that anything less than a home inspection conforming to ASHI and/or state SOP is not a home inspection.
    That said, there is a middle ground here that gives us home inspectors a path to a conforming home inspection. For example:
    Buyers are caught in a bind by pressure to waive the home inspection contingency. The way I’ve been approaching this is to offer a Pre Offer Review [or Consultation, or any name other than Inspection] for a fee appropriate for the time required.
    I brief the client & agent on any material findings from the review, and put ALL the pics from the Pre Offer online for them. I then give them a price for a fully documented conformal home inspection at a price reduced to account for the fact that I have most of the pics needed and my notes to write the report. Occasionally it takes a short session in the property to pick up things that were not covered in the Review.
    The uptake on this ‘convert to a fully documented report’ os running well over 60% for my 2022 calendar year to date. Its well worth considering this approach by framing the Review as ‘all we can do now’ and providing the step up to a full inspection if they win the property.
    Just a though that may be valuable for some of your inspector audience.
    Cheers,
    Tony K

  2. Reuben Saltzman
    May 24, 2022, 3:37 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Tony.

  3. Mitch Chiger
    May 24, 2022, 3:35 pm

    I think it still comes down to a question of liability. In the absence of Signed pre-inspection agreement or written home inspection report does your errors and omissions insurance Cover you if the buyer decides you missed something in your buyer consultation through? Tome this is the biggest issue.

  4. Reuben Saltzman
    May 24, 2022, 3:37 pm

    Hi Mitch,

    Yes, our E&O provider still covers us for these, and they require us to have our client sign an agreement.

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