Creating the perfect report can be a real challenge. There are many stakeholders to please and risks to be aware of, not the least of which are killing the deal and protecting yourself from a lawsuit further down the road.

Things can get tricky whenever you serve multiple masters, including realtors, buyers, lawyers, and most importantly yourself. It can feel like a full-time balancing act to ride that line and still produce the best report possible.

As we researched the needs of all of your constituencies, we came to the conclusion that including an executive summary at the beginning of the report could be the best way to serve all audiences.

Moreover, we suggest that the summary should be ranked by significance to best guide the buyer, realtor and lawyer. Letting them see all the concerns allows them to  pick and choose the items that are potentially most important to them.

We know that many inspectors have differing opinions on this, which is why HomeHubZoneTM includes multiple summary options, including ordering the summary by system vs. significance and putting it at the back of the report.

If you are not a believer in summary pages, please hear us out on why we think it’s the best alternative, then share your opinion in the comments below. . .

A Summary Page Offers Protection

A summary page can be your best friend when it comes time to defend yourself against an unwarranted claim. A concern called out in the summary page is hard to miss for buyers, sellers, brokers and lawyers, making it more difficult to claim that you did not point out a significant finding.

In a 2012 blog post, Joe Ferry said, “The reports that I have the easiest time defending are ones that note the defect/concern in clear language, show a photograph of it with a red arrow pointing to it and repeat the observation in the Report Summary.”

Protecting and Satisfying the Homebuyer

Though you may have your reservations about putting a stake in the ground and prioritizing what goes into the summary, your homebuyers are relying on you to highlight the most important things they should be aware of to make a good decision.

Stressed about the deal, short on time, and lacking the knowledge to prioritize concerns for themselves, buyers are depending on you to let them know what’s critical now and what’s potentially important down the road.

Short of a conversation about significant issues, your buyers will be looking for a summary of what they should be most concerned about. Requiring them to read through the entire report at the time of the deal potentially puts them at risk.

A thorough report can have more than 50 pages. Without a summary page, buyers will most likely resort to scanning through a huge amount of information, potentially missing critical issues.

And, let’s face it, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter in the age of Facebook, Tivo, and Twitter. Like it or not, your report is competing for the homebuyers’ attention and they most likely will not read the entire report cover-to-cover on the first sit down, no matter how much important information it contains and even if it does not include a summary page.

By including concerns in the summary, you ensure that buyers see important issues for discussion with their brokers and lawyers. Going a step further to highlight potentially important issues gives buyers the information they need to complete their negotiating and purchasing decisions.

While it is possible that some buyers will never make it past the summary page, we believe that it’s a risk worth taking. After all, those buyers are the ones most likely to give your report the most cursory of scans.

Realtors Want Summary Pages

In the realtor survey we conducted earlier this year, 90% of respondents said a Summary Page was the number one thing they wanted to see in an inspection report.

Understanding what issues you think are most important and what the buyers may be most concerned about is critical to them playing their part in making the deal happen. In reality, they probably don’t even need to see the rest of the report.

Making Life Easier for the Lawyer

Number one on the lawyer’s list is protecting their real estate client. Providing an easy to read and understandable summary page helps them accomplish this with a minimum of time invested.Inspection Report Summary Pages Protect and Serve

Happy and Protected

Based on all the research we’ve done, we believe that the surest way to minimize risk all around and make buyers, realtors and lawyers happy is to include an initial summary page of all of the critical issues categorized by significance.

This shouldn’t be a reporting burden. Generating a useful summary page should be an easy option within your report writer, if you’ve already flagged the significance of the concerns as you recorded them.

Of course, we want to hear your opinion. What do you think about including summary pages? What should they include and where should they be placed? Is something holding you back from including them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.