What I'm Seeing Now

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"I Guess It Wasn't Broken After All..."

The past few days have been an exercise in fun and games.  I had been accused of breaking a dishwasher.  It was my opinion that this was said to provide a negotiating position on the seller's side because of the multiplicity of things wrong with the house and their apparent unwillingness to address them.

The selling agent had been receiving numerous emails from the listing agent and was overwhelmed with the barrage.  The other agent and the sellers "were very upset!"  She had been forwarding them to me because it seemed that other things that weren't right with the house were becoming MY FAULT too.

AGAIN, THE PEOPLE SHADOWING ME THE WHOLE TIME KNEW WHAT I HAD DONE AND NOT DONE AT THE INSPECTION.  I SAW THOSE THINGS MENTIONED ABOUT ME AS A NEGOTIATING TACTIC.

Fed up I decided to do something probably beyond my purview, but I was becoming the negotiating issue.  I INSERTED MYSELF.  So I called the listing agent.  Flustered, but short, she shot off a list of things that I obviously broke, which I wrote down, and she told me to call the seller.  IT TURNS OUT THE SELLER IS HER BROTHER!

I called him immediately before she could warn him!

When he heard my name he became immediately polite, even humble.  I read people very well.  It seemed the little negotiating cabal was falling apart.

I asked him specifically what was wrong with the dishwasher and how my simply turning it on could have caused that.

He mumbled something about a funny noise "for a minute" after they turned it on that night, but the sound went away and they had run it twice since and, "I guess it wasn't broken after all."

<----------  That got my ire up, but I was calm.  Now I was not only speaking with him but battling this little guy on my shoulder.  He had changed the Pat Benatar song a bit and was singing "Hit Him With Your Best Shot!"  I resisted.

Among other things, apparently I had also broken the sump pump and one of the kitchen circuits.  (the sump was unplugged and made no sound when I plugged it in;  the remodeled kitchen was apparently wired by a stone mason and was a total joke).  Asking about each of them he admitted:

  • He unplugged the sump pump years ago because he had heard that if the pit was empty it shouldn't be plugged in (WHAT!?).  When he looked at it after the inspection it looked really rusty.  It "probably doesn't work now."
  • The pantry light doesn't come on and he thought it was the circuit breaker, and that I had done something.  "Is the breaker on now? (yes)  You do realize that breaker on or off shouldn't have anything to do with the pantry light, don't you?  (yes)  Look at the GFI receptacle beside the sink.  Is it tripped?  (yes)  Then push the button now.  (he did and the light came on)  You do realize that the GFI should not control the pantry light, right?  (yes)  So I didn't break it?  (no, you didn't)

We went through a couple of other things, and they were fine too.  My thinking this was a negotiating ploy was correct and that the brother had folded!  I politely thanked him for his time and told him to call me anytime he has a question about his house.  (A Scout is helpful, friendly, courteous and kind) 

The Little Devil left my shoulder in disgust.  I think he bit my ear.

I emailed the selling agent and my clients and told them that the problems were no more, and in fact never existed, and to have very good luck dealing with that other agent.

In reply, I got a simple email back from the agent.

"Thank you Jay.  You are a little angel."

Aw, shucks. 

My recommendation:  when you think the "other party" is taking an irrational negotiating position, politely get to the bottom of it and tackle it head on because they may be hiding something!  But be nice!  Flies are more easily caught with honey...

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 60 commentsJay Markanich • August 10 2011 07:23AM

Comments

The truth always comes out.  Pretty sleazy to use the home inspector as a negotiating tool. Is sleazy too strong?

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Jay-it is so much easier to blame the home inspector than it is to admit your house might not be as perfect as you led yourself to believe.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 9 years ago

Not strong at all Gary.  I think you are right.  We are easy targets, but they better be really, really ready to prove their case.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

And this house was a mess Cindy.  Remodeling at different times and none of it professionally.  I would be scared too to try to sell it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Wow Jay.  What a story!  Yes, you are an angel (and soft cuddly teddy bear).  Good for you.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 9 years ago

Not good enough for me. 

As the buyer's agent, I'd have asked for written verification and witnesses to the events wherein the home inspector BROKE anything.

You are still at risk and risk isn't comforting. 

This was an attempted fraud.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Wow, thanks Debbie.  Aw shucks again.

Lenn - I agree.  That's where I was going to go with this.  I am certain they will provide nothing in writing.  Another thing - get this - the radon came back zero!  Neither of my devices (calibrated) registered anything.  Both were zero.  And in three days!  They wouldn't let me back in day 2.  What's that say to you?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

I and clients were once accused of muddying a newly cleaned carpet in a home on a dry clear day.   I remembered the carpet as lightly soiled when we walked through. We asked for the recent carpet cleaning invoices and the supra box records, but never recieved them - of course.  Fortunately, these events are rare.  Agree with Lenn that while under contract, this could rise to the level of fraud and should be reported to the licensing agencies.

Posted by Daniel H. Fisher, MCRP - Charlotte Real Estate, NC or SC (www.FisherHermanRealty.com (704) 617-3544) about 9 years ago

That is up to the agent Daniel.  If it was up to me, there are so many things about this house I think I would move on.  But they needed to clear up these "broken" things first.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Great advice!  Boy some of these people that like to make up stuff...crazy.

Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) about 9 years ago

I think the sellers were mad about the report Chuck, and then heard the dishwasher sound and in their minds the problems grew and grew.

There may have been some egging on by a certain sister too...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Congratulations for ignoring that little devil.  Not everyone does and then the heated exchange only does more harm.  It just doesn't make sense why a Home Inspector would go in and cause harm.  Doesn't sound like a very good strategy to me...

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Like so many times before, I completely agree with Lenn. I am so fortunate to be a part of such a great website where I can learn just how sneaky people in this industry can be. I'm still fairly new at this and came in with the assumption that everyone was watching out for everyone else. I have quickly realized in my first seven months that people are out for themselves and will go to great extremes to do the wrong thing. Thanks for sharing this "unpleasant" experience you had because it helps so many of us learn what to watch out for! Have a great day Jay!

Posted by Margie Kopp Sorrell, Lake Oconee Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Lake Oconee Realty and Lake Country) about 9 years ago

Wow Jay, that's an awful story - sorry you had to go through that.  But it sounds like you handled it perfectly well, with grace and authority.  Well done!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) about 9 years ago

You are a better man than me, I'm certain I would have succumbed to the little red guys whisperings.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, looks like the Brother's Sister (agent) was behind this. Good thing she wasn't the seller or you would have had to take drastic measures.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 9 years ago

Clearly says to me that they tampered with it.

There is no thing as ZERO Radon.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 9 years ago

I think you handled it in a very professional manner.  The Truth always comes out!  Good for you.

 

Posted by Graziella Bruner, Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County (NCS Premier Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Evelyn - while mistakes and accidents happen, not very often.  The last time I had an accident on an inspection was at least 10 years ago and the clients did it!

Thanks Margie.  That's why I posted it.  It's probably not special or even rare.  And too bad too.

Jim - I'm not perfect for sure!  But in this case I thought it better to feign calm and cool.  And I really think he bit my ear...

Michael - methinks she is a starving agent.

Lenn - I agree.  Radon devices can be defeated and there's this thing out there called the Internet to let people know how.  It's unfortunate.  I didn't accuse them (to my clients), but suggested that this is VERY, VERY unusual.  I think there was tampering.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Graziella - thank goodness it came out in time on this one!  And thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay - You are a good man for getting to the bottom of this. The radon thing is interesting. I have accompanied inspectors back to a house to pick up the radon to find the basement window open.... back we go again when we clearly told them not to do this....

Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Christie's International Real Estate ) about 9 years ago

Sometimes sellers already have an agenda in place and it surfaces during the home inspection process. Sometimes the home inspector will find a blatant defect only to have it denied/or obsecured by the sellers so called "professional". Let it be known that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. And getting to the bottom line may take just a little more effort. No need to get upset. All in a days work.

Posted by Stephen Robert Sliwka, Realtor, Somerset County New Jersey (Goden Key Realty) about 9 years ago

L&R - thanks.  I expect those sellers forgot to close the window before you all arrived!

Stephen - this was a bit unusual in terms of my typical routine.  But it was necessary, I think.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay you guys walk into harm’s way on every inspection. I’m surprised that this type of “baloney” doesn’t happen more often. Good job on how you resolved it.

Posted by David Gibson CNE, 719-304-4684 ~ Colorado Springs Relocation, Relocation, Luxury & Lifestyle residential (Colorado Real Estate Advisers LLC ) about 9 years ago

David - and with my policy in force, it happens less often than it used to!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

"The selling agent had been receiving numerous emails from the listing agent..."

I think you got a typo here, unless the listing agent is the one listing to one side. Shouldn't it be Buyers agent? For me listing agent and selling agent are both members of the same tag team.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 9 years ago

Robert - my client's agent is the "selling" agent and the listing agent represents the sellers.  I could say buyer's agent for my clients agent also.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Sad state of affairs that professionals are operating on this level. Can you imagine potential clients reading about things like this and shaking their head? No dispersion on you Jay. The light of realty needs to go to work. If I gave a dishwasher to all involved, they would still have their poverty...good post Jay and thank you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 9 years ago

good job hanging in there and getting to the bottom of it!

Posted by Tim Tanz, St Louis Real Estate (Platinum Realty) about 9 years ago

Richie - I have wondered if they thought I would just send a check to cover the "repairs."  Thank you.

Thanks Tim.  I got fed up is all.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

One word..."Fraud" Had you not done what you did, not only could the deal have been compromised, but your reputation as well.  Based on that fact, you handled this with a ton of restraint.  That little guy on your shoulder would have been going WILD with most other people.  Good lesson.  

Posted by Mike Reyman, Delaware County Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors) about 9 years ago

Mike - hey, sometimes I go wild with him on my shoulder!  My reputation is so important to me I could not begin to explain.  I am my business!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay,

Not only do inspectors need to know the "systems" in a home, they also need to know the "systems" involved in good business practices. I have never had an inspector want to be shadowed during an inspection. It's always "a tour of the problem areas at the end of the inspection" kind of process. In your opinion, does this speak to the business practices of inspectors?

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) about 9 years ago

Brad - I don't know, but it certainly is my practice.  See my answer to Reuben on my post yesterday.  It's linked in this post.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, very professional and restrained! I think sometimes folks don't think you will address the issue, and will just let them run roughshod over the other party. Good for you for calmly and clearly going after each point. And MAJOR kudos for handling that l'il guy on your shoulder.

Posted by Barbara Charlton (inactive - license is on ice with State of MN) about 9 years ago

It's pretty bad Jay when they accuse you of breaking their dishwasher.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) about 9 years ago

If I were the buyer, I would rethink this house. Hope it's a good deal.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) about 9 years ago

Barbara - taking each point on one by one was important to me.  I wanted to hear it all.

Gary - it's possible I guess, but I don't know how turning on a unit could possibly break it!

Hella - there were a lot of things with this house.  It's not up to me though!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

I've been watching the series of posts.  Crazy situation but it started to make more sense (in a negative way) that the Realtor is also the sister.  I love how you tackled the accusations head-on without letting the devil on your shoulder have his way.  That must have been tough.

Posted by Wendy Cutrufelli, Contra Costa Realtor (Alain Pinel Realtors) about 9 years ago

David,

I would not have bitten by the shoulder guy.  I lack your patience for fradulent games.  You are the angel.

Posted by Marge Piwowarski, Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC (Phoenix AZ Horse Property) about 9 years ago

Wendy - I think she is the more difficult part of this equation.

Marge - this thing needed to get to the bottom and then move on.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Wasn't it disclosed that the listing agent was related to the seller? In Texas, that must be disclosed.

Good job putting his tail between his legs!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) about 9 years ago

Hi Jay,  This is perhaps the funniest post I've read in some time - and so very true !  Loved the line "...  (A Scout is helpful, friendly, courteous and kind) "  !!!    I'll just assume his voice is an octave or two higher after your chat !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) about 9 years ago

All I can say is, TOO BAD you're not in Arizona, you are terrific!! You did a great service for the agent and I bet they really appreciated your help.

That was a fun blog to read too, maybe writing is in your future???

Posted by Diana Purcell, Delivering Dreams One Home at a Time (HomeSmart) about 9 years ago

Wow, Jay, thanks for posting this one.  Great read and good job of squashing a potentially out-of-hand situation.

Posted by Lanette Branch, Bel Air, MD Real Estate Agent (RE/MAX Components) about 9 years ago

Jay, you little angel, handled that beautifully.  My little Devil seems to get me going all too often.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) about 9 years ago

Jay,  If their list was anywhere near what it looks like your list was, it was obviously a ploy to deny any corrections for the buyers.  At that same time, it looks like most of their issues were very minor, (though pointing to other issues-pantry light on wrong circuit) while I am sure your list was of much more significant items.   Hope they can resolve things now - if they are still interestd in the house.

 

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 9 years ago

I agree with your proactive approach to this situation.  Confronting them in a direct way tackling each problem they said you created was the right thing to do and most efficient way to get to the bottom of what the owner's and their agent were trying to do.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Amazing how people jump to conclusions. It's a good thing you were able to clarify all of the "non issues" he had.

Posted by Victor Zuniga (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties) about 9 years ago

I had a seller claim that a home inspector broke a sump-pump. This pump was NOT located in a low point of the house, and served no purpose. This was just a seller complaining for the sake of complaining.

Posted by Donald Reich (Prudential Centennial) about 9 years ago

Gee...never thought of blaming the inspector...that's rich....or make that sounds like the sister didn't want the brother tobe any poorer with repair bills.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 9 years ago

Donna - it probably was, but I did not know until my phone call!

I'm glad you liked it Bill!  And I have to be those things, I'm a Scoutmaster.

Thanks Diana.  I enjoy writing very much.  And I try to provide a good service to my clients.

Lanette - today's post succeeded the previous post when the problem started.  And thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Mine does too Jack!  Just not this time.

It wasn't Steven.  The report was very long.  But the list of "broken" things seemed to grow.

Thanks Eileen, it seemed so to me too.  I don't usually get involved like that.

Victor - I'm glad they got handled too as things like that have a tendency to grow and become worse.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Donald - wow, then what was the purpose of the pump?

S&D - I think they were trying to be "tough" negotiators and thought this would give them a stronger position.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Sound advice Jay. Looks like this turned into a win-win event!

Posted by Mike Mayer (Mike Mayer, Broker/Owner - i List For Less Realty, LLC) about 9 years ago

I think so Mike.  I hope so anyway!  The deal still has to go through.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Great job on the confrontation.  At least the seller understand nothing was really your fault.

Posted by Rodney Mason, VP of Mortgage Lending - AL, FL, GA, SC, & TN (Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611) about 9 years ago

I think they understood that early on Rodney.  This probably was a negotiating ploy.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

JA  Well done!    I cannot believe you had to go to those lengths to protect yourself, but glad you did.   

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) about 9 years ago

It's too bad Dagny.  Those things I had thought about them were probably true!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

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