The real estate market in Seattle has become so heated there often aren’t enough inspectors and appraisers to keep up with the growing demand, a dilemma that’s creating more risk and extra costs for homebuyers, according to an article in The Seattle Times.

A mild result of the shortage is delayed home sales and buyers paying enormous “rush” fees to expedite the process. At worst, according to the article, skipping the inspection — which could result in buyers finding major damage after the purchase — and mistakes in or inaccurate appraisals could jeopardize the sale entirely.

“You get a lot of panicked phone calls (for inspectors): ‘Do you know anybody? We’ll take anybody with a pulse,’” Dylan Chalk, owner of Orca Inspection Services, said in the article. “It worries me — whenever we get these bull markets, there’s a huge pressure to lower the quality of a home inspection to make it quicker and cheaper.”

According to the article, Seattle is among the most competitive markets in the nation with approximately three-quarters of homes listed selling within two weeks and sparking bidding wars. The result is buyers are skipping inspections altogether or paying up to $1,000 for rushed inspections and appraisals.

“Houses can be in filthy condition — rot infested with mold — and the buyer’s response, is, ‘Yeah, but can I buy it?’ ”Richard Hagar, a real estate agent and owner of American Home Appraisals, said in the article. “So there are people who will not have inspections. Or (after buying), they will discover things — cracked foundations and things like that.”

Windemere broker Mark Corcoran reported seeing an average delay of about two weeks because of the shortage. Even if buyers can find an available inspector, the stress level may not decrease. Corcoran said some interested buyers will pay for a pre-inspection, be outbid and then go through the  same process again and again “until they’re out thousands of dollars,” according to the article.

Another reason for the shortage: in a hot market, sellers may receive multiple offers from buyers, each one using their own inspector.

“There might be 10 home inspections on a single house, which is crazy,” Chalk said.

Source: “Seattle home prices slow their climb, but shortage of inspectors raises anxiety,” (Sept. 7, 2016)