What I'm Seeing Now

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Dual Agency... And "I" Blew the Deal

I did an inspection.  I do them now and again.

This one involved a dual agent - she "represented" both sides of the deal, buyer and seller.

She did not tell me that prior to the inspection.

It would not have made a difference anyway, but she should have been upfront.

The house was a flip.  It was seriously remodeled.  The term "severely remodeled" could also apply.

There was much done to this house, and VERY unprofessionally.  During the inspection, I used the word "unprofessional" a lot.  There were electrical things done that were "unprofessional."  Plumbing "unprofessional." Drywall "unprofessional."  Siding "unprofessional."  Floor tiling "unprofessional."  It went on.  Who knows what multitude of sins were covered by unprofessional work.

Then I used another word, a four-letter word really, I said, "This work was almost certainly done without a permit."  That bodes other issues - legal, county, insurance, breakage, leakage, hidden unknowns, future fixes, etc. 

Mr. Rogers at this point would say, "Can you spell e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e, boys and girls?"

The whole time, and unknown to me, this agent was fuming.

Quick side note -->  All the inspectors reading this now are nodding their heads - they may even have a headache at this point from such nodding.  Take a teaspoon of honey - the headache goes away quick...

Back to the post -->  She called me the next day.  "YOU blew the deal up!  YOU have no right to proclaim work to be unprofessional!  YOU were way out of line!"   And on and on...  spitting, scratching, a bit of clawing, curved back, straight tail...  conjure your own image.

Here is the kicker, "And YOU offended the seller!"

I let her have her say.  Why not?  I have known her for years.  My turn, "C'mon Looloo Belle, I did not blow the deal, the house did.  I have been a general contractor, in addition to being a home inspector, for three decades, so I have every right, as a professional, to proclaim unprofessional work to be unprofessional.  And exactly why would a person who is NOT a professional be offended at being called such?  He could not qualify for a permit if he filed for one!  Would you buy that house for your kids knowing about it what you know now?"

No answer.

She has not called back since.

Her buyers did though!  They were very grateful for my frank assessment.  They were disgusted with that agent and had a different one for the next inspection, which they asked me to perform.  They referred me to two different friends, for two more inspections, who's realtors I picked up as clients as well.

What a happy ending!

Sigh...  I'm feeling so good right now I'm going to make some hot chocolate!  Maybe I'll check into the Bristow Bistro   http://bristowbistro.blogspot.com/

My recommendation:  Hire a freaking professional to do your remodeling!  BE a freaking professional no matter what you do!  Get a freaking permit!  And cover your freaking hind end with the Golden Rule! 

Wow, I feel so much better now!  Thanks for listening, Doc.  See you next week?

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 93 commentsJay Markanich • January 19 2009 07:51AM

Comments

I agree with everything in your post except the fact that the agent should have told youwho she represented. Since who she represented should make no difference to the qualityof the work it does not need to be disclosed. In fact if as you say you knew the agent if you knew the deal consciously or sub consciuosly you may have been swayed. So that one issue aside. Great post and thanks for sharing. Getting deals are tough but we cannot compromise quality. No matter how expensive it may become. You p[ost points this out very well

Posted by Charlie Ragonesi, Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros (AllMountainRealty.com) over 9 years ago

DIsclose, DIsclose, DIsclose.  You were absloutely right.  C-Y-A is always the best policy.  And your right the HOUSE blew the deal.

Posted by Ella Glover (Lubbock Homes) over 9 years ago

Whether we are dual agents or not....we always check to see if permits have been pulled and codes met for whatever is necessary...the best surprise is no surprise...tell LuLu that little tidbit is part of realtor 101.....

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) over 9 years ago

Lubbock - Thanks!  I just learned your name is Ella - thanks Ella!

Charlie - I don't know.  I have known this agent for many years, and had many inspections with her.  Had she told be she was dual in the process, it would not have swayed my assessment, but it would have given me the opportunity to say that I would be frank anyway.

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

Hi Jay, you did your job. You did what you were hired to do. And you did it to the satisfaction of those who hired you.. the buyers.  It really didn't matter whether this agent represented one or both sides, you did not work for her.

Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) over 9 years ago

great post - I see it all the time but usually warn the buyers before we write a contract - you can usually tell when someone did the remodel themselves with out  a permit or at least with out a final inspection!

Posted by Richard Shuman, Real Estate Broker - Orlando Area - Love Referrals (The Only B.S. I Have is from the University of Massachusetts) over 9 years ago

Sally and David - methinks that the best policy.  The Meme, I know, I know...

Thanks Silvia - we try, we try...

Richard - that would sure skip a lot of bull, wouldn't it!

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

Jay, good for you for sticking to whats right.  If the agent had any brains she would be thanking you for keeping her can out of court.  Imagine the lawsuit 6 months after that deal closed? Another reason that dual agency represents no one but the agent.

Posted by South Austin Real Estate Blog (Sky Realty South Austin) over 9 years ago

Good for you for being an unwavering professional...it's probably better anyway that you didn't know she represented both sides, as it might have made it a little "personal" and tempted you to wobble on your ethics. I agree, THE HOUSE blew the deal and you did excellent work for the Buyers who hired you.

Posted by Mara Hawks, Inactive-2012 REALTOR - Homes for Sale Auburn Real Estate, AL (First Realty Auburn ) over 9 years ago

Gail - I agree.  If an agent is a "buyer's agent" how can both sides be represented?

Mara - you may be right.  You don't know what you don't know.  "The house blew the deal," is a phrase I have used for years.

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

Jay, as a professional you have to call them as you see them and you did the right thing. You probably lost any future referrals from the agent, but it looks like you will pick up quite a few from the buyer because you did the right thing. Good Job!

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

That's a crazy story!  I agree with the others here, you did the right thing. 

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 9 years ago

Michael - we have to think long run.  If one follows the Golden Rule the long run is taken care of.

Jared - I thas happened before, this is just the latest example.  It should not happen at all!

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

Just tell it like it is.  "A bad home is a bad home." I get sick and tired of agents blaming the inspector for killing a deal, when the fact of the matter is the home is a total loser.  If I noticed a homes is a loser, I tell my client let's move on to the next deal.  I would never try to stack the deal against a buyer.

Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 9 years ago

Jim - very good policy and one that demonstrates your professionalism.

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

Jay, great post.  "Prmt" has 6 letters though:)  I have a similiar story this reminds me of to post about.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles - "Prmt," as you write it, would be the ancient Hebrew of "Permit."  Ancient Hebrew had no vowels...

Four letters!!

Glad for the reminder.  So get on it!

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

Jay,

 

I think that the whole matter of realtors representing both sides is, for sure, one of the most risky of dealings. It is hard for anyone to be fair to both sides when significant money is at the end of the rainbow.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Steven - for sure.  I think there is a great deal of exposure when one does that.  As to the end of the rainbow, I understand there are a lot of cooked insects there too.

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

 

Jay, I love posts like this.  It gets the message across better than anything else that we at the National Association of Exclusiver Buyer Agents (www.naeba.org) are able to do.

 

Paul Howard

www.twitter.com/paulhoward

Posted by Paul Howard, Paul Howard Realty, 856-488-8444 (Paul Howard, Broker, Paul Howard Realty 856-488-8444) over 9 years ago

Thanks Paul.  I think this must happen a lot, but it really should not.

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

With all this new info presented to the agent and seller, I wonder if they will disclose or even sell the home.  You did good.

Posted by Angelia Garcia (Pure Realtors) over 9 years ago

 

Humm,  I think buyers that back out due to unacceptable conditions during a home inspection often wonder if disclosure of conditions found were made to future buyers.  I'm pretty sure that it is rare that they are. 

I had one buyer ask if I would keep track of when the house sold so they could forward a copy of their report to the future buyer.  I thought that was a great idea and tracked the house till it sold.  They told me they sent the report - don't know if anything came of it but I'd like to see that kind of thing catch on.

 

 

 

Posted by Paul Howard, Paul Howard Realty, 856-488-8444 (Paul Howard, Broker, Paul Howard Realty 856-488-8444) over 9 years ago

Angelia and Paul - I don't know about everywhere, but here agents and sellers are required to disclose what has happened on a previous home inspection.  I have to wonder about that.  One house that I did had a huge tree root growing under the house which was clogging the plumbing drain line and damaging the lower level slab.  I discovered it on a home inspection and the buyers backed out.  A week later I drove by and there was a Sold sign out front.  No way could that problem have been fixed and satisfied in time for another inspection that quickly.

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

The house blew the deal is absolutely correct. Bad work is bad work no matter who the agent represents.

Posted by Cameron Wilson, The Short Guy - Murrieta,Temecula,Menifee Californ (Labrum Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Jay - great story !  Love how it turned out.  The funny part was "you insulted the seller too"... LOL.  It is what it is !

Posted by Christopher and Stephanie Somers - Realtors - Philadelphia Real Estate (Realtor / Owner - RE/MAX Access) over 9 years ago

Again agents need to disclose, disclose, disclose.  She may have done that anyway.  I am surprised, however, that the purchasers went through with it anyway.  Either the price was way too good or the house was really nice.  Either way recipie for disaster.

I use Jay all the time on my inspections.  He is always very good at what he does.  Brings things into light in a way so everyone can understand the good, the bad, and the ugly.  In the end you did not comprimise you standards "to save a deal".  Good For YOU!

 

 

Posted by Erin Kavanagh Keller Williams Realty over 9 years ago

Just a note, very few people get permits here for work unless its a major remodel. Just so you say it like it is and point out to the person who hired you what they wanted to know. Good and Bad.

A lot of agents get upset on how inspectors say things.  I know of some who tend to get out of hand and do not put things in perspective.  A hundred year old home is not going to be perfect.  You did the correct thing. Rarely do dual agency but see nothing wrong with in a lot of cases. 

Posted by Eric Bouler, Listening to your Needs ( Gardner Realtors, Licensed in La.) over 9 years ago

Can you spell lawsuit?

If the real estate agent was a professional she would have been grateful that you saved her needing an attorney, when the buyers realized what a mess she got them into.  I am sure the next time you need to buy or sell a home that agent would not be on your short list.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 9 years ago

Ditto to all the great comments already!  I LOOK for issues when showing a buyer.  I'd rather have as few surprises at the inspection as possible.  Granted, I can't find nearly half the problems a Home Inspector can, but we can sure tell if it's going to have issues, usually.  Alabama is a Buyers Beware state and Sellers DO NOT have to disclose anything...scary, right?

You did the right thing.  This agent will find herself in hot water one of these days!

Posted by Elizabeth Cooper-Golden, Huntsville AL MLS (Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group)) over 9 years ago

Evening Jay,  I liked your post and the way you handled the inspection.  One question, "...but she should have been upfront."  Why should she have told you her status ?

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

Your post made my day. All's well that ends well, right? Good for you!

Posted by Kelsey Barklow, 423/948-9154, Marne Drinnon 423/202-2277 (Evans & Evans Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Great post! I would definitely hire you... keep your head up and keep doing your job! :)

Posted by Maryann Lawler over 9 years ago

Thank you Cameron!

Christopher and Stephanie - I try not to insult, but...  Did you miss a previous post, "The House Is The House"?  Sounds like what you said, it is what it is...

Thanks Erin!  Where you been boy?  Lost in outer Purcellville?  Easy to do...

Eric - I agree.  But when things are unprofessional in a big way, how should it be said?  I do not try to say things in an alarmist fashion, but I do not sugar coat either.  Thanks for the comment!

Randy - you are right!

Elizabeth - I sincerely hope she does not.  Virginia has a disclose or not disclose policy - you pick...

Bill - good question.  It would have given me the opportunity to tell her that I would be frank BEFORE the inspection, so she could either be ready or sequester herself and not listen.  The report indicated the issues.

Kelsey - I like making people's day!

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

Thanks Maryann - I try to do that at every opportunity!

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

Glad it turned out well for you as it's nice confirmation that doing the right thing, almost always pays off in the end.l Keep up the good work as there really is too little integrity out there these days.

Posted by Tina Gleisner, Home Tips for Women (Home Tips for Women) over 9 years ago

You were in total integrity with your job.  The buyers paid you for your professionalism.  I have walked away from Realtors this past year and they were replaced by others, not by my doing, but by my INTEGITY.  Also we sleep better at night when we do a good job!

You even got another inspection out of the buyers. WOW, now you double dipped!

 

Blessings,

"The Mortgage Magician"

Livonia, MI

 

Posted by Debra Ananda over 9 years ago

And now you know why I don't double end deals!  It is legal in my state but I just don't see how ethically you can represent both sides at the same time...I have never seen I lawyer represent both sides- have you? 

Great job and anyone should be happy to have you as an inspector.!

Posted by Tracy Saunders over 9 years ago

Tina - confirmation is a nice integrity demonstrator.  Thanks!

Debra - the root of integrity is "whole" or "harmony."  I like to be in harmony and yes, I sleep great!  Double dipping is also very cool too, well, except perhaps with chips and dip.  Well, maybe among friends...

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

Wow Jay!  What a refreshing post!  Wish you were in my area so I could refer my buyer clients to you!  You are EXACTLY what is needed in a home inspector.  Thanks for the post!

Posted by Deb Casper, REALTOR, CRS, e-PRO, White Bear Lake, MN over 9 years ago

Tracy - thank you for your kind words.  You are right, lawyers don't do that.  Arbitrators maybe, but that happens with teams on both sides I think!

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

Thank you Deb!  To go to White Bear Lake MN I would probably need a white bear coat...  We got down to zero here a couple of nights ago (had a post about it) and that is probably t-shirt weather for you guys!

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

Jay~ You are "The Man" always do your job to the best of your ability.  Who really cares what anyone else thinks?  Those that don't like or want the truth need to get out of the business!

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) over 9 years ago

Nice post Jay.

I sure don't understand why our REALTOR associations promote dual agency (under whatever name the give it) and then try and promote REALTORS as professional.

Hopefully some home buyers will read your post and see the light.

Posted by Jon Boyd, Ann Arbor Real Estate Buyers Agent (Home Buyer's Agent of Ann Arbor) over 9 years ago

Bravo Jay ! - and how satisfying for you that the buyers called you and thanked you like they did ! (oh and their referrals werent too shabby either !)  ... great job, with the post, and with your inspection :o)

Cheers !

Sheldon

Posted by Sheldon Neal, That British Agent Bergen County NJ (Bergen County, NJ - RE/MAX Real Estate Limited) over 9 years ago

Dear Jay,

Very good post! I am constantly amazed by agents who think they will get a "better" home inspection because of the business they have given the inspector. I have had inspector friends tell me "anonymous" stories about agents trying to bias the inspector.

I want an unbiased inspection to cover everybody's assets in a transaction, including my own!

Barbara

Posted by Barbara Delaney (Park Place REALTORS, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I "freakin" loved that one!

Posted by Kelly Evans over 9 years ago

Jay, Thanks for sharing your story. No agent likes to lose a deal, especially both sides, but it does happen and usually it is for the best.  I suspect she was "extra" upset because it was her own deal, but all the more reason to try to remain objective.

Posted by Barb Szabo, CRS, E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes (RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio) over 9 years ago

Wow a great post with a happy ending.  You did the right thing and were rewarded with great karma and got a couple of clients.

Posted by Mike Henderson, HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848 (Your complete source for buying HUD homes) over 9 years ago

Great story!  It is sad that there are agents who put their pocketbook ahead of their clients' interests.  Sigh.

Posted by Chris Rooker (Kline May Realty) over 9 years ago

Good for you! Any reputable agent will want an honest and unbiased inspection no matter who they are representing. Buyer, Seller, or both. And any reputable inspector should always be thorough and honest with whatever outcome no matter how much the possibility of future business an agent might potentially send his way. If a transaction dies because of an inspection so be it.

Posted by Joan Lorberbaum Moore (Lang Realty) over 9 years ago

Nice job .... as usual Jay! ;)

There is no substitute for Honesty and Integrity.

Posted by Chris Duphily, Stroudsburg PA Home Inspector (A2Z Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

This is a prime example of why I don't do dual agency.  It sounds as if that agent was not able to remain objective.

Posted by Pam Dent, REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse (Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Oh what a mess, at least you can sleep at night. I wish that agents like this were the exception to the rule but all too often we hear about things like these. Tisk Tisk.

Posted by Blowing Rock Real Estate Boone Real Estate (Blowing Rock Investment Properties) over 9 years ago

Vickie - what you say reminds me of that movie and not being able to handle the truth!  Wow, I'm the man...!

Jon - I see lots of circumstances with double agency.  I don't understand it either, but it goes on a lot!  By the way, Jay is my nickname - my legal name is Jon.  I see you spell it correctly too!

Sheldon - it was the subsequent referrals that put the cherry on top!

Barbara - I had an agent once write me a letter after an inspection that he wanted me to sign.  It reworded my report on a particular item that the buyer was concerned about.  I didn't need to do anything but sign it!  Well, he went onto our "do not contact or accept inspections from" list...  There aren't many on that list.  Quite an honor!

Kelly - it was freaking fun!

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

Barb - she was extra upset!  I bet they sold that house soon thereafter anyway.  Without an inspector a lot of that would not have been discovered.

Mike - isn't karma good?  It should be an AC/DC thing.

Chris R. - I think that is not uncommon in any profession.  Unfortunately.

Joan - thank you!  I really don't consider future business while I am doing an inspection.  I figure, do right and it will come.  Most agents understand that.  The house is the house - didn't I see a post about that sometime before?

Chris D. - thanks, Chris, but you, my friend, would have done exactly the same.  At least there weren't any 22" doors in the house!  He did kind of leave a little trap door to the plumbing clean out, but any plumber larger than 130 pounds could not get to it with any hopes of snaking the line...

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

Pam - you are now among an elite group I know who does not do dual agency!  Too often it becomes DUEL agency!

Meris - it might be often, perhaps more so than most would like to think.  This post may spur others with similar stories...

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

Good for you.  It's the inspector's job to protect the buyer by pointing out reasonable problems (yes, some inspectors ARE unreasonable).  You did this.  The buyers were impressed enough to buy another home and use your services again.  That says something!

Posted by Stanton Homes, Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina (Stanton Homes - New Home Builder) over 9 years ago

Thanks Stanton.  We try to do our best always.  Dig out today!

Or is it Penny...?

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

Our firm NEVER practices dual agency.  We recommend inspectors like yourself, however, our client can chose any inspector they want.  (however 99.9% of the time they choose an inspector on our recommended list)!  I hate to say that many sellers' agents act the same way as you described.  I really don't understand the attitude.  In finding all those things that were "hidden" the seller and seller's agents are protected.  As for lack of permits, I always go with my clients to the town file to talk with the building department to find out about permits -- so it would have been discovered without the home inspection.  As you said -- the house (and in my opinion the seller) blew the deal.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 9 years ago

Good going, Jay. It's great to know that inspectors have ethic, too. I would have told you, however that I was representing both parties.

Posted by Pat Aponte, ERA The Polo Group, Tampa, FL over 9 years ago

I had an experience that is related to this story.I had first time home buyers that found a home and wanted me to help them buy it.It was also an amateur flip.I did not like the house and advised the buyers to forget it.They did not listen and we went on with a purchase agreement contract .During the inspection (I used the most thorough inspector I knew) , a lot of very serious things came up and the buyers finally gave up.They ended up staying  renters and I was fine with that.

I much rather loose a deal than have my clients buy a bad house. I also will not list an obvious problem home,unless the sellers agree to have it repaired the right way. 

Posted by Everard Korthals,Castellum Realty,LLC. over 9 years ago

Jay,
From a fellow inspector you did what you needed to do and did it correctly.

Posted by M Patton over 9 years ago

Good job Jay. In Oregon the Seller's Disclosure addresses the issue of remodeling and/or additions. It specifically asks if permits were obtained. Additionally, the Buyer's Agent should have either obtained copies of the permits or directed the buyers to the govt. office where they could do it themselves. I'd say that your actions saved this agent a lawsuit and a complaint to the licensing agency.

Posted by George Bennett, Inactive Principal Broker, GRI (Inactive) over 9 years ago

Jay! Great Story. I love a story with a lesson! I have been there too-I appreciated what the inspector had to say-we moved on and found the buyers a house that suited them even better. Keep your integrity and it will all work out for the best in the end. Thanks.

Posted by Margaret Barnes-DelColle over 9 years ago

Great job, and great story, Jay. Integrity will win the day every time.

Posted by Tim Bradley, Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY (Contour Investment Properties) over 9 years ago

Jay,

Great post. As to whether there is or isn't a permit can be a moot point if the work was done unprofessionally (I know some were done CHEAPLY to save money ie caulk & paint over gaps made by settling foundation). I have an inspector who like you is very explicit in things he sees that may or may not be a future problem & recommends further inspection by a licensed professional or repair.

As for disclosure, I believe in disclosing all inspections so the buyer can't say they didn't know after signing the contract and tying up the property only to use an inspection to back out of the deal. I even disclose inspections/reports on vacant land I sell so buyers are forewarn about possible problems in the future.

Posted by George Wilson (Lincolnton, NC) over 9 years ago

Well said, Jay.

Why should you compromise yourself and your professional standards? You should not have to... Period. Thanks for sharing!

The Stage Coach Austin Home Stager

 

Posted by Michael Fontana, @ The Stage Coach (Round Rock Home Stager Austin Home Staging) over 9 years ago

I'm sure you are a great inspector, but do you think you weren't happy she didn't tell you about her agency relationship is because you know you went overboard on your comments? and wouldn't have said the word "unprofessional" , and perhaps with emotion, sooo many times if you knew.?  Not that you were wrong, but sometimes the way inspectors say things can be extreme.  Would it have made a difference to the whole report overall if you did your inspection and made your point at the end instead of throughout the whole inspection?  Just wondering.

 

Posted by Rosemary over 9 years ago

Interesting comment Rosemary.  On the other hand I am often amazed at how level headed inspectors are in the face of the extremes of non professional work.  You are guessing at the 'emotion' part but I'd say he probably said 'unprofessional' every time it applied. I wish all inspectors would do that. 

I had an inspector once that didn't note the electrical service head was pulled away from the house at the roof line. He included it in the report only when I asked him to even though I pointed it out to him.  That was an inspector my client knew from her church.  Needless to say, he is never on my list of recommended inspectors.  

 

 

 

Posted by Paul Howard, Paul Howard Realty, 856-488-8444 (Paul Howard, Broker, Paul Howard Realty 856-488-8444) over 9 years ago

Joan - I think permits are essential - there are so many reasons.  Insurance is a biggie as regards permits.  I often wonder about dual agency - I know realtors who will not do it.

Pat - thank you.  A business relationship is a relationship!

Everard - sometimes buyers have to learn the hard way.  The experience of realtors should be relied on, when professional,like you have demonstrated!

Thanks M. P!

George B. - there is no disclosure in Virginia, unless the seller chooses to.

 

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

Margaret - thank you.  Sometimes it is best to move on...

Tim - thank you.

George W. - great point.  I think disclosure was the problem all around.  You probably have noticed that home inspectors disclose everything in writing?!

Michael - Margaret Thatcher said that compromise is the absence of leadership.

Rosemary - first of all this is an agent I have known and worked with for many years.  She knew me very well.  Why do you think she would not tell me of her dual relationship?  And I only used the word "unprofessional" when it was necessary.  Frankly, any other word would have been impolite.  I also used the word "professional" many times - when it was warranted!  But, when vinyl siding is nailed all along the top with interior nails that have already rusted and dripped rust down the siding, what would be a more polite word than "unprofessional?"  Or ceramic floor tiles cut differently on each side of the door frame so one side has 1" of mortar and the other about 1.5"?  I could go on - there was so very much that was unprofessional, there really was no other word.

My thesaurus suggests these synonyms for "unprofessional" -->  unethical, unprincipled, unscrupulous, dishonorable, disreputable, unseemly, unbecoming, indecorous, shady and crooked.  Any of those would have been impolite at best, and I try to never be impolite.  I am a Scoutmaster, and while "impolite" is not in the Scout Law, "courteous" is and in those cases, "unprofessional" would have been the courteous, not emotional, choice.

I agree with you that home inspectors can sometimes say things that make small problems into big ones.  That was not the case here.

Paul - sometimes four eyes are better than two!

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

My attorneys advised me not to use the term "unprofessional." Instead, we settled on "non-standard." Don't ask me, ask my attorneys. They are the ones who following all the lawsuits and claims.

I also pull the MLS listing sheet, so if my Clients' Realtor is the same as that on the MLS sheet, I know they are representing both sides of the transaction. I also pull the public records because they can often tell me by reading between the lines whether I will be faced with a foreclosure that probably has been damaged but is certainly vacant, or a property that was last sold in 1977 (deferred maintenance and/or non-standard homeowner improvements), or is a renovated flip (sold November 15, 2008, and now on the market again a mere two months later). It helps me budget my time appropriately since I'm one of those home inspectors who do as many inspections each day as daylight allows.

Posted by Not a real person over 9 years ago

Russell - "non-standard" is a very good word!  The standard around here is sinking somewhat, however, so that bar might be lowering over time!  Eventually it might just change to no standard, which probably brings us back to "unprofessional."   That seems too philosophical to consider at this point!

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

Sometimes these really egregious faux pas need to be deflected with humor in order to keep everyone involved with the deal from freaking out unnecessarilly.  I have seen properties with so many issues that the following statement might be appropriate, "the idiot that did this should be made to lay naked in the sun covered with honey for two days."  While most of the time I would be more likely to use, "the work is less than professionally done."

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay,

Although I absolutely agree that an inspector should help the buyer better understand property deficiencies and uncover mechanical and safety defects, it is often carried too far.  Frankly, in this difficult market, I expect that we will see sellers going after inspectors who might have "blown" up a deal - due to misrepresentation or stating opinion as fact.

Bare in mind.  As an agent, we can't even say "walk to parks" in our ads due to strict fair housing laws.  So, here's my thoughts:

- The agent has no duty or obligation to anyone other than his/ her clients.  Your client (the buyer) would be responsible to explain the deal if that an important factor to you performing your duty to your client.

- In MA, there is no such thing as "unprofessional" (although it's said all the time) with regard to plumbing, electric, etc.  It's either "to code" or not.  Anything else appears to be opinion of craftsmanship.  Be careful not to end up in a "trade war."

- Permits.  Oy!  I hate this part.  Obviously, it's the seller's responsibility.  But what if the current seller bought from someone who did not follow the proper process?  I would see great value in an inspector who would offer to help clear this type of issue ... or at least provide very clear instructions on how to do so.

Best regards,
Mike

Posted by Mike Hughes, Services Newton, Brookline, Lexington, Waltham & W (Mike Hughes Team - Hughes Residential) over 9 years ago

Charles - I had a "remodel" a few weeks ago with three additions (kind of, anyway) to an original structure and so scary the client did not even want a report.  She wisely walked away!  I jokingly thought, wow, a couple of hand grenades and about $150K would sure go a long way here!

I enjoyed the phone call!  I'll get back to you.  You're what, four hours ahead of me right?  My wife did not know prior to that call that I actually put the frog on the site!  I'll have to do something more with that frog.  Give it some notoriety...  Then, maybe THEN, she will find a place for it!

Your "appropriate" statement above - wasn't that some form of punishment in ancient Persia?  It's kind of a long phrase, but I think I can make it work instead of "unprofessional."

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

Hi Mike - good stuff!  I don't think inspectors get into "codes," as there are too many to keep track of.  I do inspections in 14 different jurisdictions, each with its own codes in addition to national ones.  They change all the time.  The National Electric Code has as many as 1,000 changes each year.

I am not sure that if someone buys unpermitted work from another and then turns around years later to sell it that it is not the seller's responsibility.  When you buy it, you take responsibility is my position.  Around here the county is reluctant to inspect things after the fact because it is not possible to see the skeletal.  They do, on occasion, force people to rip stuff out!

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

I think that frog could be your AQUAFIED home inspection assistant!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

It does make you feel better to just type the whole story out doesn't it?  But, I agree with you; the house blew the deal not you.  I am sure she was just frustrated that the deal was falling apart.  But, she needs to remember that she is not representing herself in this transaction and her commission is not what is most important here.

Posted by Sonya Loose, The Lake Girl,Selling Waterfront in Gladwin County (Modern Realty) over 9 years ago

Jay, there is another point on the permit issue.  If work is done without a permit the assessor for the town doesn't know about it. That means the property is under assessed  and the taxes lower than they should be. If someone buys such a property eventually it will get found out and they will end up with an unexpected higher tax bill.  

Unlike a poster above, I think the word 'unprofessional' is used far too little.  Realtors that try to scare inspectors away or minimize their findings, for example, are unprofessional.  

 

Paul Howard, broker

NJHomeBuyer.com Realty

Cherry Hill NJ 08002

MEMBER: National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA)

Posted by Paul Howard, Paul Howard Realty, 856-488-8444 (Paul Howard, Broker, Paul Howard Realty 856-488-8444) over 9 years ago

Sonya - well, the story isn't exactly cathartic for me, but it is fun to have seen what people all over the country think!  I felt badly too, but I also made points during the inspection about some really well done stuff!  The finish carpentry was excellent.  The question in my mind - did it cover the lack of insulation around windows?  Wait until you see my post today about an old lady's roof...

Paul - for sure.  I mentioned the county as one of the problems in the post!  You are right, people try to avoid taxes for themselves but are willing to sell the potential future problem to someone else's pocketbook.

I have thought about the use of the word "unprofessional" and Rosemary's comment and really think it is the word to use.  "Not well done" is very subjective, "less than professional" is more objective and good, "non-standard" is good but kind of code related (and codes are the minimum standard anyway).  Unprofessional can also apply, as you suggest, to more than just work done to a house!

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

Charles - so you have Raven, Steve has Nutsy and you want me to weave the frog into my posts?  Or come at you and/or Steve, or anybody I guess, with frog comments?  Ventriloquists have dummies that can say things which are silly or jests or whatever and get away with it because it was the dummy saying it not the polite, upstanding comedian. 

So my "Aquafied Assistant" - should we call him "Amphibio" - can croak "the idiot that did this should be made to lay naked in the sun covered with honey for two days," and I can get away with it?

I don't know Charles.  That would require creativity, thought, clever wording and would reveal my juvenile, silly side that only special people, like, perhaps, my Boy Scouts or Sunday School class, get to witness on a regular basis.  And it is a truly SILLY side!

Steve is so good with Photoshop, and you with the emoticons - I am computer obtuse.  About the best I could come up with would be an inserted photo of Amphibio with some feeble croaked line.  It might be best to keep the club to Raven and Nutsy!  They are very good at what they do...

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

Jay good post.  It is good to have someplace to let it out.  Glad it worked out for you.

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

Jack - this has probably happened to all of us, in one way or another.  It was a little surprising that it was an agent I had know for so long.

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

With the way things are, agents and inspectors sometimes have a short fuse.  Sometimes from what I've seen lately it even carries over to their posts.  Difficult to hold them accoutable when their trying to feed the family.  Not an excuse, but true.

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

Jack -  You are right and I would give her that, but her husband is feeding the family very well.  My house could fit under their deck, or in the media room...

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

Then no reason.  I've run into that bi-polar thing with people I know and it is like a reflextion of the person you thought you knew. 

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

Another experience that proves how a dual agent really cannot remain neutral. Had she been the Buyer's agent and ONLY the Buyer's agent she would have been extremely glad that you found the problems you did, just like the Buyers were.

And I'm glad to hear that even though you were supposed to be neutral (Were you? Or were you hired to look out for the Buyer?) you remained true in your review of the home's condition.

I am glad when a home inspector "blows" a deal because it means my Buyer didn't just make a HUGE mistake.

Thank YOU, Jay, for being a PROFESSIONAL.

My Recommendation: Hire a professional to do your home inspection! (You left that part out!)

Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Paul,

Worse than paying a higher assessment, around here the city may force you to tear something down completely. (Garage. Addition. etc.)

Posted by Benjamin Clark, Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert (Homebuyer Representation, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Benjamin - they can force people to tear out things here too.  I work for the buyer, whom I represented there.  And I did imply to hire an inspector ("professional, no matter what you do..."). Thanks!

P.s.  Houses blow deals...

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

About the only thing that could have been worse was if the agent & seller were one and the same. Congrats on having a happy outcome.

Posted by Pat Starnes, Brandon, MS, Front Gate Realty ~ 601-991-2900 Office (Front Gate Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Pat - I don't think I have ever run into that!  One day, maybe, one day...

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

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