A friend forwarded to me an article, entitled Why home inspections have become more important, that ran May 10, 2012 in the Washington Post’s Real Estate section. The author is a Washington area attorney specializing in real estate law who wrote the article for the benefit of potential home buyers.
You can read the article for yourself but what struck me square in the eyes was its closing sentence: “Virtually all inspection reports limit the inspector’s liability to the return of his inspection fee.”
If I were an enterprising home inspector practicing my profession in the D. C. Metro Area, I would be contacting this attorney and advising him that, “Unlike ‘virtually all inspectors’, I do not limit my liability. I stand behind my findings and report. So Mr. Jacobs, if that’s what your clients are looking for in a home inspector, here’s my contact information.”
Do you think that he might be receptive to that information? Do you think that other real estate attorneys might also be? Do you think that they might counsel their clients accordingly? Those rhetorical questions answer themselves.
I have been admonishing home inspectors for years that they are placing far too much reliance on the Limitation of Liability clauses in their pre-inspection contracts to the detriment of their professional status and their ability to command a premium price for their work product that is commensurate with their training, skill and experience.
If “virtually all” inspectors “limit [their] liability to the return of the inspection fee” and you don’t limit your liability, doesn’t that make your inspection services vastly more desirable? And valuable? And marketable? To ask those questions is to answer them.
Foregoing the “protection” of a limitation of liability clause is a no-brainer, if doing so allows you to charge two or three hundred dollars more for your inspection services. It’s a no-brainer even if it merely increases your market share.
I placed “protection” in quotation marks deliberately to drive home the point that a Limitation of Liability clause provides very little protection.
One, it only “protects” you against your client. Nobody else. If you’re sued, you’ll merely be one of many. Your co-defendants – the seller, the seller’s agent, the seller’s broker, the buyer’s agent, the buyer’s broker – will file cross-claims against you and they are not bound by the Limitation of Liability clause in your contract with your client.
Two, you don’t need it. Ninety-nine percent of claims against home inspectors lack merit. I’ve squashed over 500 such claims with a letter.
Three, your SOP provides more protection than every clause in your Inspection Agreement. Believe it.
Four, of the over 500 claims that I have defeated, none – not a single one – relied on the inspector’s Limitation of Liability clause for surcease.
So jump in. The water’s fine.Already a ClaimsAcademy Member? Log In Register for Joe’s FREE ClaimsAcademy Video Tips Protect Yourself with ClaimIntercept Joe’s Law and Disorder Seminar is Available Online! Receive a Perfected Pre-Inspection Agreement