Home inspectors need to operate with more independence and under stiffer regulations, according to one real estate expert who says some inspectors work too closely with realtors.
Bruce McClure says some realtors recommend certain inspectors to their clients in hope of quickly closing the sale, rather than protecting the buyer.
McClure, author of the book Buy or Run: I'm a Real Home Inspector Not a TV Celebrity!, has been inspecting homes since 1998.
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He's among those calling for government regulation of the business, and says there needs to be more distance between inspectors and realtors.
'We had to brace the house so the second floor wouldn't fall.' — Homeowner Glenda Halliwell
"In my case it's not uncommon for my phone to ring and the client to say, 'I'm sorry Bruce I have to cancel. The realtor won't allow you," he said.
Glenda Halliwell bought her home in 2006 after it was checked out by an inspector who was recommended by her real estate agent.
"My agent told me that it was a great house, great price. He said if I didn't buy it, he would," she said.
Halliwell later found mould, leaks and other problems that added up to nearly $100,000 in repairs.
"We had to brace the house so the second floor wouldn't fall," she said. "I was furious."
Halliwell took the inspector and real estate agent to court and won.
The inspector "was found 100 per cent liable for failure to adequately warn and explain his visual findings. and to make sure his client understood," said her lawyer, David Morin.
Home inspectors are not regulated by governments, though a growing number of real estate professionals says that needs to change.
In the meantime, Mark McLean, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, says realtors should give the buyer "three or four names of home inspectors."
But he concedes it is still up to buyers to determine if the inspector is biased.
"They, at that point, are going to have to do their own due diligence," he said.