One way to tell whether an issue is important to home inspectors is to count how many threads and posts it generates on home inspector message boards.

There was a recent dust-up on one board that I monitor fairly regularly that centered around an inspector’s having found black air-conditioning coils on an inspection in an area of the country where Chinese Dry Wall (“CDW”) is known to exist. That tell-tale sign raised the inspector’s suspicions and he duly reported them, noting that the condition was associated with the presence of CDW and recommending further evaluation by a qualified professional. He posted a photograph of his discovery to give colleagues a heads-up and noted that his client had walked as a consequence of this discovery.

Well, before long, another inspector noticed that the coils appeared to have been painted black and, thus, the CDW reference was very likely unduly alarmist, after which, following well-established industry message board protocol, much piling on of the original poster ensued.

As it happened, there was a parallel thread running concurrently that contained a torrent of misinformed inspector opinion, whose provenance apparently was an internet ask-a-lawyer site on which two (2) [count ‘em] New York lawyers gave the exact same wrong answer on the question of whether or not a seller has any legal recourse against a home inspector whose error causes his buyer to rescind the agreement of sale.

So the inspector who had first noted that the AC coils had been painted posed the question on the second thread as to whether the seller in that case, whose buyer had walked as a result of the false CDW alarm, could take legal action against the inspector.

The answer is that, yes, of course he could. But why in the world would he? He does not have any damages. Yes, his buyer walked but only because of the erroneously-suspected CDW alert. The house does not have CDW, so there is no need to disclose its non-existence. And the fact that the house was already under a contract of sale suggests that it was properly priced.

The best strategy for this seller to follow is to forget about legal recourse and put the house back on the market as soon as possible. If it sells for anything close to the original sales price, he will either have no damages at all or none worth pursuing. This is a valuable piece of home inspector training.

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