The Report Is Totally Confidential
There is an important point to remember about the contents of the written report, as well as any water or radon test results. That is that the report and test results are the property of the person who commissioned the inspection and paid the fee, which is your client. Your client is the one who owns the contents of that report once he has received it and paid you for your services. Therefore, the contents of the report is confidential information for the client only!!! When I say that your client "owns" the contents of the report, it doesn't mean that they own the copyrights to the report text. It means that the information and data in the report is the property of the client for their use in evaluating the subject property.
Many times a Realtor or seller will ask you for a copy of the inspection report or the lab test results for water and/or radon. Don't give it to them without the client's consent!!!
Many times a Realtor or seller to the transaction will ask you for a copy of the inspection report or the lab test results for water and/or radon, or for other details about the report. Don't give the report nor any information about the report to them without the client's consent!!! That's a very important point that I will repeat to make sure you don't forget it: Don't give the report nor any information about the report to them without the client's consent!!! It's none of their business to see what's in the written report unless the client wants them to see it. The client may want to negotiate with the seller on items you noted during your inspection and report. If the report gets into anyone else's hands, then it can diminish the client's negotiating position. It's similar to playing poker. You wouldn't show your hand to other players of the game, would you?
If you send a copy of the written report to a Realtor or seller, then you can weaken your client's position. Your client's position is weakened because the third party will know what's in the report. You should also make your client aware of this when you book the job over the phone and at the job site. Tell your client about the poker game analogy so that you dump it back into their lap. This way the client makes the decision as to who gets any additional copies of the written report.
I recommend to my clients that they don't give a copy of the written report to anyone but their own attorney. I've hardly ever seen a copy of the written inspection report benefit my client when it was given to a Realtor, seller, or any other third parties. The reason for this is simple. Let's say the seller doesn't agree with me when I tell my client about a problem condition at the house. The seller is not going to change his mind just because he sees that I wrote the statement on paper. On top of that, I've often seen copies of the report hurt my clients position when it was given to a third party. Let's say you told the client that the roof is very old but it's not leaking at this time. The Realtors and sellers will use this statement against he client. They'll say, "As long as the roof isn't leaking, the seller isn't obligated to replace it." This totally disregards the fact that the roof will leak and need replacing in the near future.
Tell your client there's a better approach to negotiate rather than giving the seller a copy of your report. A written estimate from a licensed contractor can be much more helpful and convincing. Your client gets two benefits from this. First the client can show the seller and Realtor a second opinion in writing that confirms what you're telling them. Second, the client will have a repair estimate prior to closing. This way they'll know what the costs will be whether they do the work now or later.
There's another reason why you don't want to send a copy of the written report to any dishonest Realtors. The reason is that the written reports have a very nasty habit of floating around when they're not in your client's hands. You don't want your report ending up in someone else's hands, especially not another inspection company. If you're an "A to Z Home Inspector" then you have to worry about your competitors trying to steal your ideas and information they find in your written reports.
I actually had a local Realtor threaten me once with legal action about this topic. Along with my home inspection and appraisal reports I send out a letter to the client. This Realtor threatened me because the letter states some benefits and reasons why the client shouldn't give out copies of the written report to anyone else. This Realtor not only threatened me with legal action, but even went a step further. The Realtor told all of the other people in that real estate office to tell their client's not to use me on their home inspections. (Fine, don't recommend me to your clients because I'm not interested in referrals from dishonest Realtors who only refer inspectors that "move the deal along" to benefit a greedy, immoral, and ignorant Realtor! My concern and fiduciary responsibility is to MY CLIENTS, not to any Realtors or other third parties.) This Realtor was getting a commission on the sale and represented the seller in the transaction, as is almost always the case. Realtors who represent the seller know that they have no legal right to see the written report nor any of the test results, such as radon and water tests. That's okay. I get enough work from satisfied clients so I don't need any work from any greedy and dishonest Realtors. As an "A to Z Home Inspector," you won't either.