Last week, Massachusetts regulators declined to clarify whether mini-home inspections are allowed under state rules, despite inspectors’ requests for guidance.

Traditionally, home inspectors spend hours meticulously inspecting key parts of a home, such as the foundation and electrical system, and provide written reports to potential home buyers. But many buyers are waiving their right to full inspection in order to win bids in competitive real estate markets like Greater Boston.

Instead, some buyers turn to inspectors who offer quick checks called “walks and talks” or consultations, as detailed in last month’s WBUR investigation. These mini-inspections are usually much shorter, include only a few areas of the home, and are not accompanied by a written report.

Some inspectors argue that negotiations can miss dangerous and costly issues, leaving buyers with little or no remedy. They also contend that these services do not comply with government regulations regarding home inspections, which require written reports. But some real estate agents and inspectors say advice is better than nothing when buyers forego traditional background checks.

The Housing Inspector Registration Board has so far refused to settle the dispute.

At its last meeting, the council’s legal adviser urged council members not to issue a general policy on mini-inspections, but instead to deal with any complaints on a case-by-case basis.

“If people have problems, they can file a complaint and the board will look into them through the normal process of investigation and litigation,” said Jenna Hentoff, legal counsel for the board.

“Things may or may not break rules and regulations, but it can depend heavily on the facts,” she added.

However, for now, The board has not received any consumer complaints about abbreviated inspections, according to board records obtained through public record requests.

One of the board members, Inspector Liz Martin, complained that the board’s position leaves the inspectors in limbo, not knowing if talking and talking is allowed.

“This is not the kind of final, absolutely clear and unambiguous statement that housing inspectors are looking for,” said Martin, who said she personally did some of the consultation. “I would like us as a board of directors to be able to advise both our colleagues and consumers.”

The Board did not open the discussion to public comment and declined the interview request.

“They want to wait until everything comes and hits the fan, basically.”

Lisa Aladjajian Giroud

Lisa Alajajian Giroux, owner of HomeQuest Consultants in Milford, said she is also disappointed that board members have not provided clearer guidance on the legality of public speaking.

“They want to wait until everything comes and hits the fan, basically,” she said. “I think they’re hoping that somehow disappears instead of being involved in writing new policies.”

Alajajian Giroux, president-elect of the American Society of Housing Inspectors, said she believes a frustrated buyer will end up filing a complaint or lawsuit in Massachusetts.

In the last month or so, she said, she met four buyers who quickly checked out the property and later discovered problems in their new homes. One buyer found an unknown underground filled with water, mold, dead rats and their droppings, she said, but was too embarrassed to file a complaint.

It was simply the most disgusting underground I have ever seen in my life,” said Alajajian to Giroux.

The problem arose in other states as well. Texas officials said last month that walking and talking violated their state’s rules. In contrast, in April, Ohio regulators released a policy saying that the service is legal if the inspector submits a written report and the buyer agrees in writing that certain parts of the home will be skipped.

Ohio regulators felt it was “absolutely important” to clarify that inspectors must still meet certain minimum standards when conducting reduced inspections, said Ann Petit, superintendent of the Ohio Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing, which oversees state inspectors.

“Our home inspector licensees are required to provide a written report whether they call it ‘walk and talk’, whether they call it limited services, whether they call it concierge – whatever,” she said.

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