What I'm Seeing Now

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"Your Inspector Is Wrong. I Was In The House And Saw No Termites."

All along the only two exterior rim joists we could see in an unfinished basement room I saw termite tunnels.  Many of them.  The lot is dark and wooded and the basement is completely subterranean.

When my client's Realtor called the other agent, just to give a head's up, she said, "Your inspector is wrong.  I was in the house and saw no termites."

All I could do was smile.

That is a PERFECTLY irrelevant statement.

Did she see the poison ivy in the yard?  She was in the yard.

Or the 1000 pound limb broken off and ready to fall onto the roof?  She was in the yard.

How about the missing shingles near the chimney and the wet roof sheathing inside the attic right underneath?  She was in the yard.

And because she was there and did not see it that means it does not exist?  And/or the home inspector must be wrong?

Does she hear the tree falling in the woods when nobody is present?

I realize I am not the termite inspector.  And I have NO juice as regards termites.  I realize that I could see a 40 pound termite and it would mean nothing.  I am not the termite inspector! 

But I did see many tunnels!  We all did!  Are they active?  I don't know.  I am reporting that I saw termite tunnels.  And they can go from there!  I am simply employing my Best Practices.  I don't invent stuff!

But to say I am wrong is a bit silly.  There have been many times I have found active termites in houses recently proclaimed "termite free" by termite inspectors.  Here is one of them.  And I wasn't wrong...

My recommendation:  facts are facts.  It is not smart to confuse issues with irrelevant statements.  The house is the house and when a home inspector sees something, reports it and has photos to back it up, it's best to go with the flow.  And deal with it from that point on.

 

 

 

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 62 commentsJay Markanich • November 21 2013 01:31AM

Comments

Your last statement about the home being looked at by a termite inspector and found to be free of infestation is interesting.  I would like to have listened to the phone conversation when the sellers called the termite company

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 5 years ago

Good morning, Jay.... those who make a few bucks gain confidence and many feel they know it all....they don't know squat.... some I'd like to strangle.... that one didn't know what a mud tunnel was....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 5 years ago

That has many time happened James, and on houses that had "termite contracts."  On that particular house the termite company was called back and said there were no termites!  So my clients called their own guy who said that of course there were termites and active ones!  So they had dueling termites.  The sellers were so adamant that my clients got out of the deal and bought another house!  Termite free...

Barbara - she didn't see the tunnels so they didn't exist!  However, I happen to know that if there is a tree falling in the forest and nobody is there to hear, the man is still wrong.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Seems to me that any agent that would protest a termite inspection report of present or past infestation is simply taking a huge risk.

This is simple.  If there is a hint of a present or past infestation, a complete inspection by a licensed pest inspector means inspect, inspect, inspect.

What's the matter with people??

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Right.  This is why people hire inspectors - they know what to look for!  Geez.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 5 years ago

That's what I thought Lenn.  What's the big deal here?  We see tunnels.  Get them investigated.

Debbie Cuz - and I'm looking!  I see what I see.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

We don't have termites...guess they aren't brave enough for the cold...BUT ...we soooo love the defensive agents who don't know what they don't know..hmmmm ?

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 5 years ago

And the agents who know everything S&D?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I use licensed exterminators on every job. Even then I have had people argue about the presence or termites or better yet, having someone more qualified look at the house. Um, yeah, ok. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

I have been in homes and found the same thing. Break the capillaries and find live termites scurrying about.

This is after the termite inspector had been there. This might be because they spend twenty to thirty minites at a home but charge a full inspection fee.

Have a great day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 5 years ago

I was in the house Jay, there was no framing. :)

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) almost 5 years ago

That, too, is a best practice Jim.  People get their hackles up at the weirdest stuff.

I watched a termite inspector once flip his flashlight around for about 2 minutes and proclaimed the house termite free, Clint.  Okay!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Tom - in the 70s there was a lawyer around (don't remember his name) who said that he always began with the big lie.  Then he moved from there to the next biggest, etc., until he finally had to give up on the case.

"Your dog bit me."  "I don't have a dog..."  And so forth!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Some things are blatantly obvious even if you aren't a termite inspector!  I'm glad the other agent is. 

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) almost 5 years ago

Termites?  Where is the chocolate--its snack time!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Jay, I had a similar occurrence, and when I asked the the Pest control guy if he looked at the evidence he replied well my guys were the ones down there. So you did not look at the evidence then claim they were not there..hmm.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

She solved the problem Marc!  Pay no attention to the termites behind the curtain.

They are best sauteed in butter and dipped in that chocolate that gets hard Charlie.

Don - that guy would work out real well in the current administration! 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

M&M-ites

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Deelicious! 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay, I'm sorry but that agent was an idiot (can I get in trouble for saying that?). I'm guessing that you are not offering up to the agents your thoughts on the comparables. C'mon folks, stay with what you actually know.

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) almost 5 years ago

I never go there Tom.  But this house was comparable to every other house that has been vacant for a year and a half and being sold by an estate - it was a mess ...      ;>)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I can see the lawsuit that that know it all agent will be facing in six months when the buyer finds out that yes they do have termites... very hungry and active termites. 

Posted by Jim Patton, Realtor - Stanislaus & Merced county Realtor. (Century 21 M&M - 209-404-0816) almost 5 years ago

They will find out quicker than that Jim!  The buyer scheduled a termite inspection for the next day!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Thank you for the post. I enjoyed reading your comment about the lawyer. #13

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 5 years ago

I would hope the listing agent would want a third opinion from a reputable termite inspector to determine who was right, especially if they are going to continue to sell the property.   Of course, maybe the listing agent won't mind once a new buyer takes possession of the property and in the spring calls to tell them about the swarming termites in the house and how they knew there was an issue, but failed to disclose it.   

 

Posted by Craig Alexander, Associate Broker in Virginia (Coldwell Banker Premier Properties) almost 5 years ago

Thanks Gita.  And that's a true story!

Craig - after hearing that the circumspect buyers called their own guy!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago
Jay, It's amazing how some agents want to overlook reality.
Posted by Bill and MaryAnn Wagner, Jersey Shore and South Jersey Real Estate (Wagner Real Estate Group) almost 5 years ago

Do you know how close you came to killing this deal Mister? Geez. Next thing you'll tell me is that the structure has been eaten in half by a termite! Deal Killer!!! How can you sleep at night?

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) almost 5 years ago

Bill - maybe she was jaded by all of the previous home inspectors she knows who invent stuff.  With photos.  Just to have something to report...

Scott - I blew the smoke off my six iron and had reholstered it just as they decided to get another termite opinion.  Bummer!  He's going to say he can solve the problem!  I always say, try, try again.

Oh, I have a Thermapedic mattress, that's how.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago
You've heard the saying, "Two eyes are better than one!" Those are definitely termite tunnels. That evidence should be enough to convince the agent that he is wrong.
Posted by Rosie Moore (Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City) almost 5 years ago

Oh my!  Why an agent would say something this stupid is beyond me.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) almost 5 years ago

Jay, how much more proof does the agent need. I seen these several times in properties. I once saw a property where the termites were so bad in the basement area it looked like stalactites growing out of the ceiling.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 5 years ago

Rosie - well, these two eyes saw about 30 tunnels, all over the house!  But, as you can see, I was wrong.

Gabe - I couldn't believe it!  The agent, AR's Justin Dibbs, smiled and said that this happens often.  Really?

Mike - do those eventually extend to the floor so they can eat the concrete?  Just asking.  Was that house near Luray?

;>)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I'm suprised that it was not asked what you were doing inspecting for termites if not termite qualified. Forget the importance that you do not select what to report, rather report what you view, as apart of your commitment to your trade and your quality as an inspector. Deal Killer, No, just reporting on your observations as a professional.

Posted by Steven Wessler, CMI, CCMI (SpyGlass Inspection Services) almost 5 years ago

I couldn't get past the visual in my head of a 40 pound termite.  UGH.

 

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) almost 5 years ago

Thanks for this blog. And thanks for including pictures in your reports.  Many times I have had sellers say, after I share the inspection report and discuss options, that the inspector is wrong.  Pictures and location help me explain and show sellers to what the inspector is referring.  And sometimes even on future listings to help me convince sellers to have pre-inspections done. 

Posted by Suzie Townley, Relaxed Professionalism (Diamond Partners, Inc) almost 5 years ago

The agent sounds like someone in a hurry to get a commission check (at any cost).  It was a really stupid thing to say.

Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) almost 5 years ago

I'm guessing that Real Estate Agent that said you were wrong is a licensed Pest Control person? YIKES!

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Just because an unqualified person looked at the house and didn't see termites, doesn't mean there are no termites. That's why we hire the professionals to look!

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) almost 5 years ago

scary when you hear a real estate agent give an opinion that they have should not ... taking on that kind of liability is crazy

Posted by Lehel Szucs, REALTOR of choice (All Seasons Real Estate, Inc.) almost 5 years ago
Jay, that agent may well have been in the house and it sounds like they chose to sweep the termites under the rug. What a foolish statement. As an agent you would think they would want any possibilty of termites investigated fully.
Posted by Frank Nolan, Jump and the net will appear (Nolan Realty Team / Pacific home Brokers) almost 5 years ago

I would expect a home owner to be emotionally attached to a house but would expect an agent to be more practical. Since you are paid for the inspection and not for the future work you have no incentive to make things up. 

Posted by Gerard Gilbers, Your Marketing Master (Higher Authority Markeing) almost 5 years ago
Guess you should have said "appears" to be tubes. :) There are only two kinds of homes in my area. Those that have been treated for termites and those that will need to be treated.
Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) almost 5 years ago

Ok, so since when does our opinion matter or better yet the assumption of something that is or is not.  We leave it to the professionals.  Facts are Facts, there's no arguing that!  Now, step two: back to the negoitating table!!

Posted by Graziella Bruner, Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County (NCS Premier Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Apparently there is no longer any such thing as 'active' or 'inactive' termite evidence.  Any evidence at all is evidence of termites, past or present.  You can't see them.  Doesn't mean they aren't there.  You have to treat because guess what...if you're inspector is so wrong, then kill the deal, and then when you get your next offer, tell them their inspector is wrong too.  And the next, and the next, and the next.  If he is just sweeping it under the rug to get his commission faster, he's in for a big surprise when it never sells for the same reason.  

Posted by Edward Beck, Helping Buyers and Sellers Turn the Page. (William Lawrence Agency) almost 5 years ago

Yet is the other Realtor a pest inspector? Is the other Realtor holding a side job as a professional termite inspector? Aloha Jeff

Posted by Jeffery Griffin, Broker Owner (Jeff Griffin LLC ) almost 5 years ago

Right Steven.  I am not there for termites, but note them when found.  I leave the rest up to the other guys!

Kat - well, what an image!  No wonder!

Suzie - sometimes even the photos are disputed!  It is what it is.  The house is the house.

Charita - I was a little suprised too.  Again, the house is the house.

Evelyn - she is not.  Hence the sarcastic tone in my post!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Suzanne - with all the classes I have taken, I am probably qualified, but I'm not the termite company.  Here inspectors don't do the termite inspection as that has to be done within 30 days of settlement.  There may be certified termite home inspectors, but I don't know any.

Lehel - it's best to go with the flow and let the other professionals handle things like that.

Frank - the termite inspector likely will find everything I did, and maybe more! 

Right Gerard.  I never make things up.  The house is the house.  And this house has been vacant for 1.5 years and is being sold by "the estate."

Margaret - I am a little surprised by that comment.  This house is on a wooded lot and very shaded by older trees!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Well said Graziella.  The house is the house, is my favorite phrase.

That's true around here Edward.  If I was buying that house I would want it treated.  We just don't know.

Jeffrey - unknown, but probably not!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Have you seen the Realtor with the white cane around there anywhere?

Posted by Bob Marsh, Broker,480-529-2936, Warm Weather Real Estate (Warm Weather Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Bob - were there sunglasses and a cup involved?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

The information, or words of the home inspector are often miss-communicated as the word goes outward from the starting point.  As I am sure you have had this experience on multiple occasions, what you say to a real estate agent or to your client is sometimes very different when you hear it repeated back to you from a plumber or hvac repair man.  Just picture the agent you spoke to saying to the listing agent; "The home inspector said the home was eat-up with termites." and the story goes from there.

Happy Inspecting 

Posted by Paul A. Perry, Home Inspector - Crossville & Cookeville, TN (Certified Inspections, PC - Residential & Commercial Property Inspections ) almost 5 years ago

Yep. Looks like termite tubes.  Did the agent fill out the NPMA-33 when she said there were no termites? :)

Posted by Juan Jimenez, The Richmond Home Inspector (A House on a Rock Home Inspections LLC) almost 5 years ago

I dunno... a 40lb termite is pretty good evidence! I have seen termite inspectors walk around talking on their cell phone while they were "inspecting"... but that's a different story. Identifying past or present activity due to signs or damage should be enough for them to have it evaluated further. Or so one thinks!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 5 years ago


Jay - the termite tubes are a dead give away. Even though the mud tubes may be inactive, we still treat it as an infestation.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) almost 5 years ago

That's true Perry.  And interestingly my report hadn't gone out yet!  I simply say we saw evidence of termites on the report, and they go from there.

Don't know Juan!  Doubt it though!  These were only a couple of the couple of dozen tubes I saw there.

Fred - this house is an estate sale and has been vacant for a year and a half.  It will be evaluated further necessarily, but even more now as we found what we found.  I expect they will have dueling termite inspector opinions!

Eric - I don't think there's much choice there.  Who know what's going on.  And this is a wooded, dark lot, with large, established trees all over.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay, no it was a commercial property in Woodbridge.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 5 years ago

Since you mentioned stalactites, I was joking about it being near Luray...  my dry humor coming through.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Good evening Jay, stopped by to read your post and hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. 

Posted by Charles Stallions Real Estate Services, Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc) almost 5 years ago

Thanks Joyce.  You may stop by anytime!  I hope you had a great holiday.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Maybe their son was making mud sculptures and put them on the top of the foundation to dry ;)

Posted by Rafi Footerman, Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More! (Mid Jersey Inspections) almost 5 years ago

Certainly possible Rafi!  In this case the son would have had to be in his 60s...

;>)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

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