Active Rain November 28, 2010

Can you trust your Realtor or your Inspector?

I very seldom re blog another author, but this was, in my view, a very timely message. All too often, it is suggested to me that that those I refer my clients to, such as lawyers, mortgage officers or home inspectors, are somehow in my pocket. Nothing could be further from the truth. No transaction is worth my reputation or license. One of my favorite inspectors, Frank Hope, had a fantastic “bedside manner” to be sure, but he played it straight and accurately, and there were times that deals died because of his findings. Yet there were those who thought he was conspiring with me to smooth deals over. 

It seldom came up, but I never heard a peep again from anyone when Frank inspected the home I bought for my family back in 2007. He was good enough for me. Frank has retired, and I sure miss him. 

The bottom line is that if I recommended an inspector or other professional for that matter, it is because they’ll do right by you, the client. That is paramount. Deal come and go, but you only get one reputation. And one license. 

Via Joseph Michalski – PA Home Inspector (Sherlock Homes Inspections):

It’s been bothering me for weeks now. 

I got into an online exchange (or maybe it was a spirited debate, no – I think this qualified as an argument) with another inspector about a very basic concept. 

Specifically, it was his core belief that Realtors are all money hungry bastards whom buyers shouldn’t trust, and any inspector referred by a Realtor is a corrupt puppet who also isn’t to be trusted. (Ok, I am paraphrasing there, but that is the gist of it).

Needless to say, since my wife is a Realtor and I am a Home Inspector, I got pretty hot.  That was almost 6 weeks ago, and I am STILL fired up about it.  You are actually telling buyers not to trust the person with whom they have shared personal details, financial information, and countless hours looking for the right home?

The logical flaws in the basic premise are stunning:  essentially, that no one should ever trust anyone who is making money based on their purchase of a product or service.  Don’t trust the butcher – he will give you bad meat just to make a buck.  Don’t trust that doctor – they just want to run up your bill and don’t actually care about helping you get well.  And for God’s sake, whatever you do – don’t trust your Realtor – they want to sell you the house that you told them you want to buy!!!

And they actually use language like that on their websites!!!  Here’s a sample:

Real estate agents aren’t your friends; they earn their commission only if your deal closes and the higher the price you pay for the house, the more money they make.”

Apparently, there is an entire association of like-minded, self-titled “Independent Inspectors.”  Their premise is simple: your agent can’t be trusted and neither can any inspector referred by an agent.

The more I debated with this guy, the more I understood how he came to this opinion.  It seems most (or maybe even all) of the Realtors in his area won’t refer him.

I suppose that should have been obvious to me from the start.  I have met dozens of inspectors and know they come in all types – many of whom are poor communicators, or quite simply scare the hell out of buyers over minor/common stuff. 

I’ve witnessed an inspector describing, in gory detail, electrocution to buyers (in relation to ungrounded, two prong outlets in a home built in 1910).  I’ve watched an inspector don safety goggles, and step on a special mat while removing the electrical panel cover (do you think that buyer EVER went near a breaker panel again?).  And I’ve seen countless inspectors refer simple issues out for “evaluation by a licensed professional” just to cover their own hindquarters.

In each case, the inspector unnecessarily created tension or angst in an already nervous buyer (isn’t every buyer nervous at an inspection?)  Simple common sense and the ability to understand how to communicate make all the difference.

I have inspected thousands of homes and met all kinds of Realtors.  Some love me, some – well – not so much, but one thing I think nearly all will agree on is that I provide a thorough, detailed and honest inspection regardless of how my client found me.

And one thing I have come to know of most Realtors is that they work hard for their clients, and that they also rely on referrals and reputation to build their businesses.

And one final thing I have come to know about ALL Realtors AND Home Inspectors is that no one ever wants unhappy clients or to have to deal with a potential lawsuit!!!

One of the best Realtors I ever met lost 3 straight deals after my inspections.  I joked with him as we entered the fourth inspection “Are you worried?” and he simply replied: “Not even a little”. 

He continued, “You are going to do the best inspection they can get, and tell them what they need to hear.  These people will use me to buy a home – even if it isn’t this one.  I need them to be happy and I need to know that I’m putting them into a good house.”

I realized then, that this is what most agents believe and that their referral is the highest form of compliment they can pay me.  So, while others can stick their head in the sand and refuse to take a critical look at themselves, I will continue to work on honing my skills – both technical and interpersonal.

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Sherlock Homes Inspections 

Philadelphia’s Top Rated Inspector