What I'm Seeing Now

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You Can Do It Cheap, Or You Can Do It Right

An entire inspection of a foreclosure recently was spent with my buyer client and her "contractor."  I use the quotes around the word contractor intentionally.

Not realizing I speak Spanish, in each room they were discussing the best way to hide this, or cheaply repair that, or cover this or clean the mold off of that.  I listened and understood.

I did my thing, they did theirs.

Please understand -- my thing is to provide the best service I can, no matter what the outcome.

Their thing was something entirely different.

Finally, in the master bathroom, there had been serious leaking through the extremely filty, rickety shower doors.  The water had gotten under the vinyl flooring, staining it purple and causing it to peel upward.  There was similar staining around the tub and toilet.  Typical.  There is only one way to fix it - replace the product and any damaged wood beneath.  They watched me press my weight all along the edge.  Nothing seemed to buckle, so perhaps it isn't terribly rotten.  But who knows what is under that vinyl.

They discussed tacking the vinyl back down with small nails, hiding them with caulking.  She asked my opinion, in English.  Being sure both would understand, I answered in Spanish.  You should have seen their eyes widen!  I said:

"You can do it cheap, or you can do it right."

"That would be much more expensive than fixing and caulking the flooring.  I'd have to replace the flooring, and fix the floor, and remove the toilet, and replace the shower door.  It would cost."

"Yes."

"There is a lot to do here in this house.  I have to watch my pennies."

"Would you want to buy a flipped house from someone who had done substantial repairs, all cheaply?  You have discussed hiding things, covering things up and I for one would not want to buy that.  Have you ever heard of the Golden Rule?"

Long pause.  "The Golden Rule depends on one's budget."  That is a direct quote.  Big smiles from both.

"No.  It doesn't."  Smiles gone.  "Would you fix things this way if your children were going to buy this house?  Of course not!  Why would you do less for someone else?  Why did you hire me?  Because your realtor told you I would do a very good job.  You expect me to do that for you.  Would you have hired someone to do less?"

The conversation ended at that point.  She got it.  She didn't care.  Buy it, flip it, get out of Dodge.

What happens after my inspection really isn't my purview.  But it coooouuuuld be...

Oh, as I was leaving, the "contractor" happily offered me his card.  All smiles!  "You are a very good inspector.  Please refer me to your other clients!" 

"No thanks.  I have a very small group of people I refer.  I have known them all for many years.  My experiences with them have proved to me that they do very careful work, with pride and professionalism.  I care about my clients and would not refer less."  Smiles gone.

My recommendation:  You can do it cheap, or you can do it right.  Do it right!

 

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 70 commentsJay Markanich • February 12 2009 06:58AM

Comments

Good for you, I am glad that you do the right thing.

Posted by Steven Wright, CRS - Home Real Estate - 720-989-5283 (Home Real Estate) over 10 years ago

I, too am grateful that there is honor left in some people. You are too be applauded. At the end of the day, what do you have left but your integrity.

Posted by Janice Roosevelt, OICP ABR, ePRO,Ecobroker ( Keller Williams Brandywine Valley ) over 10 years ago

Steven - We try!  We Try!

Janice - I agree.  It is the harder path, but the one less traveled.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Hopefully the buyer of that "flipped" house will happen to contact you for an inspection and as more and more contracts fail, the price will be such that the flipper will lose her shirt.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 10 years ago

I would have loved to have seen their eyes widen when they realized you understood everything that they had been discussing.  That would have been priceless!

Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) over 10 years ago

You are so right.  And good for you for standing up and making a difference.  They may not agree, but you stood your ground.

Posted by Cindy Edwards, CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677 (RE/MAX Checkmate) over 10 years ago

Bi-lingual...came in handy huh Jay ?  Do it right or don't do it at all....first class or no class at all !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 10 years ago

Jay,

Nordstrom was wrong..."the customer is not always right." Good for you and for taking the right position.

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 10 years ago

Jay -

Most inspectors, and many Realtors, I would assume, would simply keep their mouths shut!  "It's not my business," many might say.

But, indeed, that attitude by others, over the years, has tarnished the image of Realtors and other Real Estate Practitioners, as well as flippers like the ones you met.

To what end?  I think, in many ways, we're living that now!

My two cents, anyway!

DEAN & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted by Dean Moss, Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team (Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL) over 10 years ago

Wow Lenn!  I have to admit, that little bit of Schadenfreude would not bother me a bit...

Brian - 'twas!  'Twas!

Cindy - it was easy ground to take, easier than Pork Chop Hill...

Sally and David - it comes in handy more often than you would imagine!

Rich - that's Walmart's thing too.  Their pledge says something about approaching any customer within 10' of you, looking them in the eye, walking them to find their product, how right they are etc.   Well, NOT always!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

D & D - but it is our business!  What should we think got us into this mess!?  Thanks - your comment was worth more than two cents...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay,

Great post - and a very hot topic in today's market. ON a recent post I showed photos from a really bad crawlspace. The house looked great form the outside, it looked even better on the inside. But down below, it was really bad. 

I would have almost given them the benefit of the doubt that maybe, no one went under. EXCEPT, there was a bunch of new plywood subflooring, and a couple patched on floor joists. Someone knew what was going on, and decided to ignore the problems at the expense of the new unsuspecting buyers.

Shame on them.

Posted by Jack Feldmann (Clayton Inspection Service, Inc.) over 10 years ago

I flipped houses in a former life and I made sure they were done the right way and with pride.  Not only was my name attached to those houses but if I knew I tried to hide something or do it cheaply I couldn't sleep at night.  I looked for inexpensive ways to do things of course, but inexpensive is one thing and ripping somebody off is another.  Thanks for your great story! 

As far as that investor and contractor goes... karma baby.  LOL

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 10 years ago

Jack - you da man!  That's why we have coveralls!  We be betting you be right...  I had a similar one the other day - great house, with an attic that glowed green with "evidence of mold."  It really got me too, started wheezing and tearing.  There were many boxes there apparently from the new appliances put in the attic.  No one noticed?

Jared - inexpensive is smart.  It might not be exactly what you would buy for yourself, but you are, in reality, flipping something.  Inexpensive is not second or third hand!  Or trash!  Sometimes karma can smack you behind the head!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Great story.  Nice to see that some people still have some integrity.  It seems to me the amature eye does miss some things, but in some homes, you can tell an awful job was done.

Posted by Brien Berard, Maryland Real Estate Agents - Laurel Real Estate (Remax Professionals Laurel MD) over 10 years ago

Great story... I need to learn Spanish!  It's nice when folks realize that they should do it the "right way"...

Posted by Debbie Summers (Charles Rutenberg Realty ) over 10 years ago

Jay, thank you for taking a stand and sharing it with the rest of us.  You never know when the seed you planted within them to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do will bloom. At least now as a result of working with you they have that option.

Posted by Kelly Young, Colorado Springs Real Estate ~ 719-226-0126 (The Platinum Group Realtors) over 10 years ago

Wouldn't hiding rot with caulk and vinyl be illegal? I wonder how they would have reacted to your indicating the possibility of  jail time. As far as I am concerned thats where a contractor who would do work like that belongs!

Posted by Kay Murray (Summer House Style) over 10 years ago

EXCELLENT! Great that you spoke Spanish, and that you came up with the best responses to them.  Also a great post for buyers to beware when they are looking at houses that are being sold by "investors".

Posted by Linda Jandura, Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist (Raleigh Cary Realty) over 10 years ago

Jay, let's be honest. If the world was made up of people like you, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now. Thank you for not taking his card. Whether he got it or not, you sent the message. I, too, surround myself with people I can trust to do the right thing. Congrats on your star!!

Posted by Connie Harvey, Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate (Pilkerton Realtors) over 10 years ago

Brien - I think you are right.  I have missed many things, however, artfully concealed.

Debbie - do you think they did not already know that?  And you don't need to learn Spanish - we speak English here.

Kelly - hope the seed landed in the right soil...

Kay - YES!  Oh, and YES!

Linda - I get accused at times of being Argentine or Chilean because of my good Spanish, blond hair and blue eyes.  South Americans are somewhat used to German influence...

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Connie - thank you very much.  I think there are more of us than we all realize...  My brother lives in Old Hickory.  Say hi to him!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

This is the sort of thiing that will come back to haunt you in the future, if you don't deal with it corrcetly from the outset.

Brian Madigan

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 10 years ago

What a great post, Jay. I commend you for your high work ethic and attention to quality and professionalism. Let me know if you ever move to southeastern Wisconsin. I would definitely refer you to my buyers!

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 10 years ago

Thanks Jay for the great story and reality check. Yup, there are many unscrupulous types out there trying to "peddle" real estate. These people fit the model perfectly. You, on the otherhand, are a consummate professional, and I would not hesitate to refer you to my clients!! THANK YOU!!

 

Posted by Kathy Baker, GRI Tennessee Realtor (Realty 1) over 10 years ago

Brian - often people don't understand that end of things!

Peggy - thank you!  And thanks for the offer.  Actually we are looking to move further south...

Kathy - wow, I hope I am typical professional, as opposed to the "consummate" your wonderful compliment implies!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

I purchased a property from an investor that had some hidden flaws. I am certain that the seller knew and covered it up anyway. Karma has a way of getting you back. It is always best to do the right thing even when no one else is looking. do unto others... it what i say.

Posted by Benita Gottfried (New Vision Interiors LLC) over 10 years ago

Man, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversation! My in-laws are bi-lingual (bu they don't look like they are) and they have some great stories like this as well, where people were talking about them thinking they didn't speak Spanish.  I'm sure you meet all kinds of people in your line.

Posted by Susan Gonzalez Faux painting murals atlanta (Marietta Mural & Decorative Design) over 10 years ago

I love getting the deer in the headlights look when I break into fluent Spanish when people trying to get away with something illegal don't realize their private conversations aren't so private. Way to go for playing that card when you did.

Posted by Lanna Broyles (constructionclaims.com) over 10 years ago

Jay, what a guy!!! Wish I could have been there when you spoke to them in Spanish.  Kudos for you for stating the obvious and living up to your moral character.  Character and morals are hard to come by these days!!

Posted by Gena Riede, Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699 (Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792) over 10 years ago

Wouldn't it be fun for you to be called to inspect the house on behalf of a buyer? 

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 10 years ago

Jay, People like that get my Irish up. You did what you could and told them what needed to be said.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay,

That is a good point and a common occurance with seller's I think. Since we usually work for buyers, at least they usually have a bit different slant on it since they have to live there.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 10 years ago

I totally agree. Why do something half ass and then have to fix it later.  People do notice when things are done right or wrong. My Dad is a contractor and he has always done things the right way and always told others that he wouldn't do the job unless he did it the right way.

Posted by Marcie Purcell, Realtor, Bucks & Montgomery Co PA (Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 10 years ago

I agree.  Rarely does the shortcut to an 'end' prove to be the best way!  If you do something right the first time, you won't have to deal with it again!

Posted by Bruce & Mary Smith, REALTORS, Savannah Lakes Village McCormick SC (Savannah Lakes Homes) over 10 years ago

Jay,

Measure twice...cut once.

Great post!

Posted by Shuki Haiminis (Lofts.com) over 10 years ago

I've seen this "contractors" work, I'm sure of it.  Okay, not this guy, but you know ones like him where they try to hide the defects.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 10 years ago

Benita - I hope karma heard you! 

Susan - flies speak Spanish?  I guess they have to if they live where Spanish is spoken.

Lanna - I find the roaches really scatter when the lights are turned on.

Gena - blushing now...

Lane - that would be fun!  It was suggested earlier.  Do I have a disclosure issue if that happens?!

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

James - thank you me bye!  I get some Irish up too, along with the Scot in me...  now there's a combo!

Steven - yeah, and this lady is both buyer and seller.  Each angle with its own slant!

Marcie - I think people should do things full ass too!  Well, that could be size dependent...  that's one reason I don't like to go to discount stores.  Your Dad sounds like my kind of guy.

Bruce and Mary - how come there isn't enough time for builders to do it right the first time, but time enough to come back time and time again to try to fix it?

Shuki - sometimes carpenters try to measure once and cut twice to try to fix it.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Tammy - you have seen this guy all over the place.  OK, not THIS guy - wait, maybe it was him!  Unfortunately I see this sort of thing every day.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

I find this an interesting story on several levels.  One, it truly goes to show 'buyer beware' and reinforces the value of a good home inpector. 

 

But also it brings up another point that bothers me.  I think that it's rude to speak another language to exclude people.  I've seen it done many times, and even if it's done innocently, the excluded party will always feel uneasy and/or suspicious.  What is everyone else's thoughts on this?

Posted by Brian Opperud (Hot Realty Leads) over 10 years ago

Brian - you are exactly right.  It is impolite.  In this case it was intentional, trying to say things that would not be understood.  We had dinner with a family last Sunday who speaks broken English, but they were very kind to try to speak it during dinner so as not to exclude my wife and daughter.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Glad you refused the pirate's card. These crooked investors and contractors are most of the reson our business is so ridiculously overregulated...

Posted by Robin Turner, Robin Turner (Happy House Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Robin - rather than being embarrassed and thinking it might be time to change, his face said something different, like he was offended or angry.  So, go ahead, take your toys and go home!  (Actually I wish he would...)  Thanks for the comment!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay,

What a great story!!  I like Brian would have loved to see thier eyes widen when you answered them in Spanish!!  When I have Spanish-speaking clients, I usually let them know up front that I speak Spanish, too.  ....Maybe silence is golden!

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) over 10 years ago

We need more people in this world to not let their greed get ahead of their willingness to not care about others....  It is a slippery slope to little by little become complacent and start to accept things that in the beginning didn't feel right.  Before long people are corrupt.

Posted by Anonymous over 10 years ago

We need more people in this world to not let their greed get ahead of their willingness to not care about others.... It is a slippery slope to little by little become complacent and start to accept things that in the beginning didn't feel right. Before long people are corrupt.

Posted by League City, TX - Worrell Team, REALTORS, GRI, CNE (RE/MAX 1st Class) over 10 years ago

Jay, you deserve many gold *stars* for this one----you are "Da Man!"

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 10 years ago

Sonja - sometimes it is better not to speak until you need to!

Brian - Ihave heard the little saying that as regards bad things, we first tolerate, then accept, and then embrace.  The slippery slope starts somewhere!

Charles - I hope that is the gold star I (infrequently) got in elementary school!  Thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay I wish more people in this business had your integrity!  Last year friends of mine bought a house from a couple who did sub-standard flip.  Many things were over looked by their inspectors and unfortunatley it ended up costing them a lot of money in the long run. 

Too bad they didn't listen to their Realtor!   :O)

Posted by Julie Ferenzi, Julie Ferenzi (john greene Realtor) over 10 years ago

Fantasitic, great job. I have fired clients because of their lack of integrity. I only do win-win-win deals.

Posted by Doug Aaserude, Broker (Inactive until May. 2009) over 10 years ago

Julie - some people are incredibly inventive and can conceal well enough to fool anybody!  They should have listened to their realtor!

Doug - wow!  Have to admit, those are the best deals!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Its like they say, "You get what you Pay for"

Posted by Fernando Ruvalcaba over 10 years ago

Fernando - yessir!  I see that every day!  And some of what I see is frightful.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Hey Jay, I already told you once, but again good job.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 10 years ago

Jack - it feels just as good each time!  Thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Hi Jay,  What a terrific post, and bi-lingual yet.  You kept your temper better than I would have !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 10 years ago

Bill - I hear this stuff all the time, or deal with it while talking to sub contractors for builders.  It seems to be common practice.  People simply don't get it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay! Stand TALL! Such an excellent and inspiring post. Honor...Integrity...and of course a wee helpin' o celtic ancestry, naturally!

Posted by Bill Saunders, Realtor®, www.BillSellsHotSprings.com (Meyers Realty) over 10 years ago

Thaks Bill!  As a Boy Scoutmaster, I have to do that kind of stuff...  and as a MacGregor I also have a wee helpin'!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Integrity at it's best.  Do it cheap or do it right.  the same could be said of do it easy or do it with integrity, no matter the outcome.  It wold have been easy to let these people patch and cover, but your integrity would not let you.  BRAVO!!!  If more people were like you, nationwide, we would not be facing the problems we are.  You are the standard.

Posted by Richard Overall, Your OVERALL Long-Term Real Estate Resource (United Country Premier Properties) over 10 years ago

Richard - thank you - that is quite a compliment!  Hopefully I am in the middle of the pack of people who are all trying to do a good job at whateve they do.  "Cheap" does not mean inexpensive!  You can do something well, yet spend smartly.  By cheap I really mean poor quality, but she got the message!  Don't think it will sway her though...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jay, what do your contracts say about that?  It could be a serious disclosure issue if you tell the "old buyer" that you won't disclose any known defects to future clients, and the contract for the "new buyers" says that you must disclose everything you know...

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 10 years ago

Lane - my agreement does not say anything about future disclosures to clients.  I work for the buyer.  The likelihood that I will get the inspection in minimal, should someone buy it and call me.  But it could happen!  If it did I could handle it a couple of ways - the best would be just to say what I see during the inspection.

For example, there was no intention by the buyer to want to replace that shower surround or the flooring.  That is an easy one.

Interestingly, I had a couple of realtors in the area want to know where this house was!  I told them the street and if they get a contract on any houses on that street to call me and I would let them know if it's address was this particular house!  At that point, then they could handle it a couple of ways!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Happy President's Day tomorrow Mr Jay.

Your friend Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Nutsy - Thanks, my little friend!  Great carving by the way!  Did you do that with your teeth?  Say hi to your cousin(s) and associates for me!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Hi Jay...If I were buying a house in Northern Virginia you would be hired to do the inspection.

I always suggest a couple of inspectors that do an extremely thorough job.  My criteria:  Would I want this inspector if my child (or me) was the buyer.  Then, that is the one for all my clients.

You must see things that  are very upsetting.  This is such a case as far as I am concerned.

Well deserved feature.

Kate

Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) over 10 years ago

Thank you Kate!  Actually that is my criteria too - what would I do if the buyer was my mother or daughter.  Or me!  Lake Anna is a hair far for me.  But please, you are welcome up here any time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

There is something to be said for doing the right thing and holding to a higher ethical standard.

Posted by Jeff Remas, Inspector Jeff (Advanced Code Group) over 10 years ago

Jeff - we can't be in business long run if we don't do it that way!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

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