It’s All About Perception

I speak with a lot of real estate agents on a daily basis and they all seem to be talking about how many deals are falling apart over inspection items. If you are not familiar with what I am talking about, it is when a buyer puts a home under contract and then terminates the contract after the home inspection. The question is, why is this a growing trend now? To answer that question, let’s take a look at two different time periods.

It’s 2005 and it’s a hot real estate market. Bill Smith has a home for sale and Tom Jones puts it under contract. Jones has an inspection done, items come up on the inspection, some minor and some more serious in nature. Jones doesn’t object to the inspection items, he doesn’t even bat an eyelash and moves on with the purchase of the home asking for nothing to be fixed.

Fast forward to 2010 and Bill Smith is selling his home, Tom Jones put it under contract and orders his inspection. Items come up on the inspection, some minor and some more serious in nature. Buyer and seller argue, haggle, and fight over who is going to fix what and how much. Jones is not happy and terminates the contract shortly thereafter.

What’s the difference between these two scenarios? What happened between 2005 and 2010? Did all of the homes in America all of a sudden fall into serious disrepair? I think not! The answer is, “It’s all about perception.” In 2005, buyers looked the other way on inspection items or thought “No problem, I’ll fix them myself.” Buyers did not want anything to get in the way of them getting the home they wanted, not even inspection items. Today the buyer perception is, “I have the seller’s over a barrel, I am going get what I want, when I want it, and if I don’t win, I’ll take my money and go home or elsewhere.”

In most cases, deals should not be falling apart over inspection items. This can and should be a give-and-take compromise with both parties winning. I understand what the market is right now and buyers have an advantage, but I think that we can make even more progress in the recovery of the real estate market if we can get to a more equitable “perception.”

Dan Polimino is a Realtor with Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty. He can be reached at and

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