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Firsttimebuy…, Home Buyer in Seattle, WA

As the buyer, is there any danger in using a home inspector your agent recommends?

Asked by Firsttimebuyer, Seattle, WA Fri Mar 5, 2010

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Mack et. al.,

I don't think most agents are shady or out to get anybody. And yes, Leanne, most agents are "decent people." However, I'm on the grievance committe and I know what goes on. I also have a honest view of human nature. But even people who are basically descent can do indecent things.

Redux: there is a conflict of interest if the seller's agent is your agent and you're asking them for a recomendation for a services in which the outcome may benefit them and they have a direct relationship w/that service provider. Sorry, it's just human nature to try and straddle the fence when you have conflicting interests.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Mack,

I disagree with you pretty much entirely, but what else is new :) One of my clients just called me and I corrected their "wrong" thinking. He thanked me and said, "That's why I call you before I do anything, Ardell."

I don't "make the big bucks" as they say so that the seller or buyer can be handed a bunch of "facts" and then they get to call all of the shots. They absolutely value my opinion more than their own. Why wouldn't they value mine more after 20 years of real estate experience? If they don't, then they are wasting the money they are paying me.

That has nothing to do with my thinking "I'm a party to the transaction", that has to do with my thinking I am the AGENT...and a pretty darned good one. If I just handed people facts and waited for their answer, then I would charge them 30% of my normal fee for service. I have done that, and I have had clients who hire me on that basis, but the cost for THAT service is substantially less.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Leanne: "If you bring an offer to my seller for a buyer client, you and I have different roles. Those roles do not mean either one of us is out to get anyone."

Exactly, you make my point. thank you for that. Only stupid people only look at things from one rigid perspective. A buyer's agent would never look at the inspection the same way a seller's agent would. To even suggest that they would is just ridiculous. That's like saying the attorney for the wife and the attorney for the husband will always agree and see everything exactly the same way. Just isn't so.

Your choice of "out to get" someone is just tilting the conversation the way you want it to go. When I represent the seller I absolutely want things to tilt the sellers way. When I represent the buyer I absolutely want things to tilt the buyers way. Any agent who does not see it that way is just a paper pusher.

Same goes for Mack. It isn't a "deal" at all Mack, it's a process, and that process requires representation and advocacy.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Leanne,

But it is also not true that NO ONE is out there just to "sell them a house". It's not about being "out to get them", that's just silly. It's about wanting "the deal to close" more than they should. Come on...come clean on that. The majority are out there to make money, and a cancelled escrow is no fun for anyone. To pretend otherwise is just not credible, and I know you run into agents like that every day. Time to get off the pink pony on that one.

EVERY agent, even the very best of them, would think it inappropriate for a buyer to cancel over a small inspection item. So there really is no purely unbiased agent. We all apply our own lens to the process of real estate.

Sure, not many would overlook a sinking foundation problem, but how often do we run into that? I can count on one hand the times we had to cancel on foundation problems in 20 years. And if you don't have a different standard when representing the seller than when you are representing the buyer, then you are not representing your client well.

How much should Earnest Money be? (as example) Lower if you represent the buyer and higher if you represent the seller. Sure, there are exceptions. But the agents who have only one pat answer to every question, and not a different one if you represent the buyer than if you represent the seller...just isn't "representing".
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
An inspector who has a long standing relationship with the agent is about one thing...doing the inspection well for you. An inspector who does NOT have a long standing relationship has a lot more to gain by making that agent happy than you happy. He needs HER business more than yours, don't you think? So as far as "hidden agenda" goes, an inspector who sees a big business source in the room...an agent...has more bias than an inspector who already knows he has all of that agent's business.

When one of my clients brings in an inspector I don't know, often he spends a lot of time trying to impress ME for future business to him. In fact often I have to bring in my regular inspector behind him to catch things he missed while trying to "get my business" in the future.

A bad agent may have a bad inspector. But if you did your homework before choosing an agent, then you should be able to rely on that agent's advice both generally and specifically.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
I have an arsenal of inspectors at hand that I prefer to work because I trust them. I know that they are there to inspect the home with diligence, thoroughly and honestly. I know this because I have first-hand experience working with them. A buyer typically only buys a few homes in their lifetime, agents sell many homes every year. Thus, I believe recommending/referring inspectors is a service to my clients. If there is no time crunch, I will often send my clients three inspectors and let them choose. I know that all three are good choices so I will be happy with whoever they pick. If we need a quick inspection, sometimes it is more about who is available. Sometimes I consider the personalities of my clients when sending referrals to assure they will be at ease with the inspectors I recommend. Sometimes my buyers ask me to choose for them. And sometimes my buyers have someone they are adamant about using (referred to them or friend or family member). Every situation is different but as Mark said, if you trust your realtor, then you should trust their recommendation. They would need to disclose to you if they were going to benefit/profit from the referral.
Web Reference: http://www.LiveGreenNW.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 5, 2010
I thought it helpful to give everyone an update. We had the inspection yesterday.. and it seemed to have gone great! My agent is not the seller's agent. I did use "her guy". He seemed good, he seemed thorough and in the end it all seemed to have worked out fine.

Am I still skeptical? Hell yeah. And I imagine I probably will be throughout the remainder of this process. You see, just because I hired an agent does not mean I leave common sense at the door. I didn't hire her because when we met the stars were all in alignment and I suddenly felt like she was "the one." (I reserved that feeling for choosing the house!) While I absolutely value her opinion and acknowledge she will be navigating this ship through all of the muddy waters of home buying, I hope to never be blind to the realities of the business. It is after all, business and we are all in it trying to save a buck or make one.

Thank you to all who have commented! I have very much enjoyed and learned a great deal from your feedback.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Firsttime, like most other professionals, Realtors develop a network of trusted associates whose services the agent knows to be of value. The last thing an agent wants is for a contract to become void due to delays or poor service that could have been prevented. Ultimately, you are free to choose any inspector that you would like, hopefully after careful consideration and due diligence.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
@ James, I've sat on agent arbitrations several times, and have found the biggest issues seem to boil down to lack of communication. Too many times, agents assume things that they shouldn't. Paying attention to details is important. Yes, I have to agree, there are some agents that I just don't trust, and steer clear of. We all have to find our own radar on that; at the same time, I wouldn't want the standard for buyers to be 'don't trust anyone'.

@ Ardell, I don't know how you manage to turn every conversation into sparring.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
- And if there was only a chance that this could happen that's enough reason NOT to use the seller's agent's inspector.

I don't think that's enough reason at all. In theory, everybody could be scamming. In practice, James, the overwhelming majority of residential real estate transactions are honest and above board. People want to buy at a reasonable price, a seller is willing to sell at a reasonable price, the brokers do their job competently and professionally, the inspector does her or his job in the same way, the lender has reasonable fees, the escrow company does the numbers correctly and the title issues are cleared before closing.

To protect yourself from the possibility of scam, the best defense is a good bee ess detector. Another good defense is to not be the person looking for that borderline "edge" - these people make the best marks for a con artist.

Here in Washington State, with the new licensing and education requirements, I don't think FTB has a thing to worry about. Because, as I said, there's a strong disincentive for an inspector to "do her crooked real estate agent buddy a favor" over a piddling three or five hundred dollars.

The alternative, of course, is to disregard the advice of the most knowledgeable person a buyer knows - their real estate agent - and go looking on their own and asking friends for referrals.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Hey FTB, how do you like all this arguing? :-)

The point is, if you trust your agent, use their inspector.

Happy inspecting, and enjoy your new home!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Mack said:

>>There are two bogus arguments. One is from inspectors claiming that agents want them to "go soft" on the house.

Like I said, I've seen things. I'm tight with the inspectors I know. I can tell you that on more than one occasion the seller's agent has called the inspector to "chew him out" for killing the deal. It happens, and it happens more than you think.

>>The other, along the same lines, is that agents will bring in a shill of an inspector to gloss over the defects in order to get the deal done. This presupposes that the agent has an inspector who will sell their integrity for four hundred dollars.

Unfortunately, this happens, too. There are inspectors who will soft-sell in inspection and plenty who will do so for $400. Many of the inspectors like to be in good with the listing agents who also recommend them when they have buyers. Is this the norm? Probably not, but it does still happen. And not all of them are selling their integrity, they are just not good inspectors and miss stuff.

May not be the way it is somewhere else but I'll bet it happens like this all over. And if there was only a chance that this could happen that's enough reason NOT to use the seller's agent's inspector.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Not entirely true there, Mack. If sellers hired inspectors and handed the buyer the inspection, it would not be the same as the buyer hiring the inspector. I've seen it too many times over the years. I once hired a termite inspector and the seller hired one too by accident. Seller's report said no termites and the buyers report had a hollow main header beam from termite activity.

Who hires the inspector sometimes does control what he does and does not find. Just is. The seller and or agent for the seller should stay out of the buyer's inspection phase.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
No time to read all of the lengthy responses, I'll keep it short:

If your agent is the seller's agent, DANGER. If your agent is "your" agent (buyer's agent, exclusive buyer's agent) using someone they recommend should be o.k.

There is an inherent conflict in recomending any services to the buyer if you are the seller's agent, IMO. I'm sure I'll get some blowback on that one but really don't have time to argue. Seen too many bad things happen.

Find an inspector who isn't afraid to "kill the deal' and doesn't play footsies with the seller's agent. A good inspector know's he's working for you, not the agent, the seller, the bank, or anybody else.

Good luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
Ardell raises a good point. I've gone to inspector web forums, and many of them view agents as the enemy. They think we don't want items pointed out. Whether it's an inspector that you're dealing with a lot, or one for the first time, it's probably not a bad idea to take them aside and let them know that you want the buyer to know all the issues with the house, especially those that might kill the deal. If they are that serious, the buyer should know.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
There's another element here that hasn't been mentioned. The agent is the one that needs to understand the inspector's findings when negotiating for repairs or other remedies. If you leave your agent in the dark to even the slightest degree, you might know everything that could possibly be wrong with the house, but hinder your ability to get them repaired or addressed adequately.

After years of hearing the same inspector, you build a communication level that is often important to the negotiation process.

There are a few inspectors who try to impress buyers by whispering to them as if the agent shouldn't hear anything. They treat the buyer as if they are the only one who is allowed to know what he is saying. They whisper and mumble and take the buyer away from the agent to explain things. Those are truly the worst as it is the agent who needs to understand what exactly is wrong with the house so they can negotiate successfully with the seller and seller's agent. Often they are making something out to be worse than it is and telling the buyer privately that it's a small thing, but let's make it out to be horrible so you can get more than you need to fix it. Those companies often have names that reveal their true intent like "Let's Chop Them Off at the Knees Home Inspector".

Often inspector's like that market directly to buyers vs agents and frankly spread the mis-perception that the agent recommending inspector's is a bad thing. They do that because they never seem to make it to the "good inspector" list, so they view that list as "evil".
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
@ Kary, I learn something new from inspections frequently. It's always interesting.

@ FTB, sometimes I see that my buyer client isn't quite understanding what the inspector is talking about, so I step in to get the conversation directed to better answering the puzzled look on a buyers face. Don't hesitate to speak up if you don't quite understand what the inspector is talking about -- as a first time buyer, you will have many questions, and sometimes not quite know how to ask some of them!

If your property has a crawl space, you might want to go down there with your inspector - they aren't as gross as you think (well ... most of the time!). Take a flashlight.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
FTB - several agents before me have said it best. If you trust your agent, you should be able to trust their recommendation.

Most agents, myself included, have a list of inspectors who they have seen working at other inspections, and have admired their skills. Not because they went "easy on the house" so that the deal could go through, but because they watched out for the interests of their clients (the buyer).

Good agents don't want an inspector to skim over important defects in a home... some years down the road, you're going to call us, and want us to LIST that home for you, and we don't want to try to sell a home with a defective foundation, or structural issues. So we actually "want" the inspector to find all of the problems, so that you can make an educated decision!

I understand your mother's concern... (and that of her, clearly not-disinterested inspector)... but if you trust the agent... trust the recommendation.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
MVP'08
Contact
The only reason I asked was because when mom found out that I decided to go with an inspector my agent knew and "trusted" she freaked and reacted as if I hadnt thought this through well enough. She said an agent has an agenda and now she is sharing that with her inspector who is now biased as well and just wants to make the sale for her. Although I feel a sense of trust with my agent, she's not my elementary school friend by any means... one never really knows, you know? And I just want to be sure I am not acting naively (sp?) :)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
Yeah, the danger is your agent is a creep and really knows inspectors that don't care about their professional ethics, either.

Good agents like good inspectors, because good agents don't like phone calls a year later about how such-and-such a problem wasn't found and what are we going to do about it.

We'd much rather deal today with the problems we can find that have them surprise us later. And so would you.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 5, 2010
A tip. If you call the inspector for an appointment and he has lots of options most any day, that is not a good sign. Most good inspectors are very busy right now. My inspector will make time for my clients no matter how busy he is, even if he has to work 7 days a week from early to very late, he will do that, but only for his "regular" agent's clients. So sometimes the value in using "an agent's" trusted inspector, is you can get a best and busy inspector by using the agent's name. If that same inspector didn't know your agent, they might say "sorry, I have no appointments in your timeframe" and you would have to settle for the one who is less and least busy for good reason. That's not good.

Never, ever choose an inspector by cost. The cheapest are usually the worst from what I have seen.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 5, 2010
Firsttime,
You are free to choose whomever you want to do your inspection. If you have an experienced agent, they have been on lots of inspections and know good ones from bad. A good inspector is more than just licensed and affiliated with ASHI. They have experience and know when to panic and when to inform. They write a useful report with detailed information that becomes a home owner’s manual for you in the future.
You can interview the inspector, check out their website and sample reports and decide for yourself. If you are looking for a recommendation I like Inspection Services Northwest. In addition to all the standard checks, they use Infrared Technology to see things invisible without it.
Check out their website at http://www.inspectionservicesnorthwest.com/
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 5, 2010
As an agent I offer out three names in any category when asked for referrals. I'm always happy to provide them but always remind my clients that they shoud - and need - to do their own due diligence. Agents provide recommendation as a courtesy. And so I do not think that there is an inherent risk to you - likely the agent's past clients have had positive experiences with the provider or she/he would likely not have suggested them.

But you should do your homework, check out the inspectors website, ask to see the type of report they produce, ask for references and talk to them.

Good luck and best,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Find sucess at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 5, 2010
sorry Kary, just got out of the hospital, arm is sore, will watch that, not yelling at anyone, again sorry,,,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 12, 2010
Melody, please quit using all caps. It's annoying and hard to read.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 12, 2010
HELLO, aGENTS ARE REQUIRED TO BE AN ARMS LENGTH AWAY FROM OTHERS IN THE INDUSTRY, THAT IS WHY WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ADVISE YOU WHOM TO HIRE. THAT AVOIDS KICK BACKS AND CROOKED REPORS OR SIMILIAR FRAUD. LIKE THE OTHER AGENT STATED YOU SHOULD BE GIVEN A LIST OF INSPECTORS, THAT YOU CALL AND SPEAK WITH, ASKING HOW DO THEY DO THEIR INSPECTIONS, WHAT DO THEY CHARGE ETC, WHEN CAN THEY DO IT, ETC.

IT IS THE SAME WITH ESCROW, TITLE, ETC.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 12, 2010
Ps: I see that you already had your inspection. Sorry for the late response.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 9, 2010
No, as a matter of fact since your realtor is working for YOU, and has your best interest in mind, you probably should trust him/her. Realtors do not get referral fees - it's against the law. We offer a list of 4 or 5 that we find to be the best inspectors and let our buyers decide which one to use. Inspectors are held to higher standards than most people realize too. They too are working for you - you hire them and you pay them - don't be afraid of their loyalty to you. So many people are afraid of being lied to by Realtors - please don't be! We have a strong code of ethics that we are bound to, with giant repercussions if we don't. And again, your Realtor really is working for you. In a business where we are in business to be sued, we are DILLIGENT about being on the up-and-up.
When the home you are buying is being inspected, you should be there, and your realtor has to be there. The inspector will inspect, and should give you a full walk-through of what he/she has found, and also a written report. It's a pretty thorough and educational process! Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 9, 2010
James, to an sports medicine physician, all sports are dangerous and should probably be outlawed, except for the revenue they provide!

The thing is, Ardell, we actually don't really disagree about the content, but in the way we describe the world, I think. Which leads me back to my "delicate touch" reference, because each of us, due to our personalities and other factors, needs a different communication style in order to get the same message across.

If we step back, I think you'd agree with me that we don't decide for our clients. We may differ on how we interpret "advise" and "counsel" and "inform," but I can't imagine that you'd just cross out the earnest money line and say, "We're going to ask for (whatever)." Or that you'd scratch out the offering price and say, "We're going to counter at (x+10%)."

I'm a big guy with a big personality, so, in person, I might do what Sir Laurence Olivier did for TV, which is, to play it small to fit the medium. Someone else might be more effective playing it large, or screaming, or whispering, or whatever.

Unless I'm wrong, and you feel that your responsibility is to rewrite the contract to your liking and tell your client where to initial.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 8, 2010
Firsttime - so glad all is working out well so far..............

Just so you know, I love having a buyer like you...........someone who is involved and educated as to the process........... Someone who is a partner in this, who adds input , and common sense (that's a good thing!).........but is still open to my advice and suggestions.
It sounds like you and your agent have a great working relationship!

Continued good luck with the process............enjoy your new home!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Glad to hear everything worked out for you. Buying can be stressful, whether it is your first time or your fifth time.

We thoroughly enjoyed answering your question, as you can see from the many comments. Most of us know one another, so we had a little party while you were away :)

Best of luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Thanks, Leanne!

- EVERY agent, even the very best of them, would think it inappropriate for a buyer to cancel over a small inspection item. So there really is no purely unbiased agent. We all apply our own lens to the process of real estate.

We have to remember that we are not a principal to the transaction. It really isn't "our" deal, but the client's deal. Our job to is to help our client reach THEIR goal, not OUR goal.

We all have varying degrees of touch and sensitivity in guiding the transaction toward this end, but we need to keep in mind that it isn't about us, and as we should not be ramming the sale down our client's throats, neither should we be impeding it, either.

- But the agents who have only one pat answer to every question

Are agents who don't really know very much about this business, doncha think?

- and not a different one if you represent the buyer than if you represent the seller...just isn't "representing".

Well, again, I think it comes down to what your client's objective is. Sure, if a buyer comes in with $1000 EM in Seattle, you'd tell your seller, gee, that's uncommonly small. However, if the offer is really good in other ways, and you push back on the EM, maybe they come back harder on the inspection. So, again, I think we have to remember that we are not the principal to the transaction, and a good touch is where the seller is informed and makes up their own mind.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Ardell, come clean? For believing in human decency? Your arguments simply cement the reasons why buyers need buyers agents and why sellers need sellers agents -- to best represent their individual goals, not necessarily to protect them from vultures.

If you bring an offer to my seller for a buyer client, you and I have different roles. Those roles do not mean either one of us is out to get anyone.

Simply put, buyers and sellers do well by interviewing agents, then choosing to work with the agent they feel they trust to represent them best.

Trust comes from many things - including not being overly suspicious of everyone and/or their motives.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
This is one option. To advocate for yourself, you should ask the agent what their relationship is with the inspector that they have recommended. We, as agents in our area, are required to fill out an MLS form if we recommend an inspector so the buyer has the agent/inspector info up front in writing. It doesn't hurt to do your own shopping to compare references. Usually, if the agent has done several transactions, and has seen several inspection reports, they often can get a sense of how detailed and helpful some reports can be in relation to others that may have missed some things that would be helpful to correct prior to a close. So their experience can be a valuable tool to help you possibly. Galen Hubert, CBBAIN Mercer Island, Previews & Exceptional Properties
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Mack, I gave you a thumbs up for your last comment.

There is a trend from some people in our business to try to persuade buyers or sellers that everyone is out to get them. I just don't believe that's true.

The far bigger problem I see out there, in all fields, is ineptitude. Choose wisely, and all will be far better than if you somehow choose a dummy. Ask for referrals.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
Hi FTB - congrats on finding a home:) Lot's of good viewpoints here. I would suggest you definitely get a recommendation form your agent and maybe ask a couple friends who have purchased recently for their recommendations. Interview them and find out who you are comfortable with and what their qualifications are. Definitely don't go by price, as so many do.

I always recommend an inspector to clients - as ARDELL said below the communication you build with someone over the years is pretty vital when it comes to negotiating out the inspection issues with the sellers.

Good luck and I am happy to give you my own recommendations if you like which would not be biased since you have an agent:)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and your new home:)
Web Reference: http://www.cooperjacobs.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
James,

I had a situation last year where the buyer hired an inspector on cost. He was $100 cheaper. he was a prime example of "soft sell". He would find something and turn to the buyer and say "Oh, you can just put a little duct tape on that". For the most part he wouldn't talk at all, which I later realized was because he didn't want to reveal just how much he didn't know. After a half hour of not talking at all, he finally called the buyer. I said to myself, yay, finally he is going to speak. What he wanted to "show" them was that the mirror in he bathroom was really cool, and you could see the back of your head in the right one if you tilt the left mirror just so.

When he left the buyer could tell by my face that I wasn't satisfied, so he hired my "regular" inspector who found a major thing wrong that the other inspector had missed entirely. This was a huge issue in that it was one that cost very little to repair, but in six months, if not found, would have been a many thousands of dollars repair job.

Recently I had a situation where I used two inspectors because it was a bank-owned new construction and I wanted to be extra thorough in case the builder had cut corners when he first realized he was going to let the property go into foreclosure. That's another reason to trust and rely on your Buyer's Agent. Sometimes it depends on the client and the house. Not even my tip top best of inspectors (or lenders) is right for every situation.

It really doesn't make sense to hire an agent, whom you are paying much more than an inspector, and then not trust their advice. Kind of a waste of money don't you think?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 7, 2010
I will agree there are times the buyer will "receive" such things from the seller. "Accept" is another story, and further due diligence upon receipt is more advisable.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
Yeah, but mostly. The difference, Ardell, is that a buyer can have an inspection authorized by the seller or one that is independently conducted on their own behalf. Inspections, like appraisals, are opinion-based evaluations, which can differ between professionals. And, for $500 or so, a cheap price to pay for an independent evaluation.

I think you'll agree with me that there are times where the buyer will accept the findings from the seller, such as building envelope studies obtained by an HOA.

I have no comment about the inspection that showed up after the Seller accidently ordered it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
Ask your agent for more than one recommendation. Generally your agent will know who the respected Home Inspectors are and will give you good advice.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
Now that inspector referrals need to be in writing, it would be very dangerous for a listing agent to give an unrepresented buyer a different list of inspectors than what they would give when they happen to be a buyer's agent. It would pretty well document what wrongdoing was being done.

One thing attorneys have learned is to dig into prior transactions with agents, and look at who the agent is dealing with on every transaction.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
There are two bogus arguments. One is from inspectors claiming that agents want them to "go soft" on the house. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but if the incentive is that this crooked agent may bean another $400 in your pocket somewhere down the road, I think that you as an inspector can afford to maintain your integrity.

The other, along the same lines, is that agents will bring in a shill of an inspector to gloss over the defects in order to get the deal done. This presupposes that the agent has an inspector who will sell their integrity for four hundred dollars.

Here in Washington State, inspectors are now required to take weeks of classroom instruction. They don't like it. They are, as a class, men and women who want to be outside building, taking buildings apart, doing things with and to structures. They don't want to be in a classroom. And they're not spending time in a classroom so they can kneel under the mistletoe an agent wears around their ankles. They are going to be the most incorruptible profession because, frankly, they don't get paid enough to put up with any bullsnot.

To an auction house, a painting by Gustav Klimt represents maybe twenty-five million in commissions, based on a sale price of $125M or so. To a buyer's agent, yes, this deal is important - but if this house doesn't work for the buyer, the agent has a 90% chance of selling another house to the buyer.

The point being - the economic motivation to cheat the client is much less than is generally assumed.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
I don't think that's a good idea, Leanne. You need a little "arm's" length on that. When I represent the seller, I give the buyer the 3% to keep or go get an agent with, and I don't recommend "services". The only time I bring in my inspector is if I think the one they hired missed something, and then I pay my inspector to make sure everything is found and noted and hopefully fixed, prior to closing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
I dunno, Ardell and James. If I were a sellers agent, and a buyer was buying the listing and asked me for a referral to a building inspector -- I'd still recommend the same inspectors as I do for my own buyer clients.

Frankly, I think my knowing the inspector would be helpful even in a situation like that, since I would know that I trust the opinions of the home inspector, and could assure the seller that whatever the inspector has found, is valid.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
Excellent point, James. I never stopped to consider that the buyer's agent could in fact also be the seller's agent. I would doubt that to be the case, as that is worse than worrying about "agent's inspector". :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
I believe the words "Any Danger" can be dangerous in themselves. Like Doctors Lawyers, and Realtors, all inspectors are not equal. My clients ask me for inspector referrals, and after asking them more questions about their specific concerns, I make a recommendation, and I let them know to interview the inspector or others to their own satisfaction, because the choice is theirs. I also tell them that I think 3 things are critical. 1) Experience, 2) Able and willing to fit into small crawl and attic spaces, and 3) the proper licenses, certifications, and/or experience to address the buyers specific concerns. With current laws, most inspectors these days are acceptable or better. For Myself and My Clients, I want only the Best!!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
@ Ted, one of my favorite home inspectors is a licensed civil engineer. I have found that some engineers communicate better than others, and that's an issue for buyers and agents to understand.

I had an inspection come in from a buyer on one of my listings, written by a civil engineer. It was full of technical terms, and rigid descriptions, yet very little positive remarks or comments. The seller did not come to "terms" with that buyer at that time. Later, the buyer came back to the property with a new offer (same price), and had another inspection done by a different inspector. The buyer bought the house, and didn't ask the seller to correct a thing.

Knowlege isn't always the most important thing -- having the knowlege + being able to communicate is.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
@ Ardell -- you are so correct!

Another point for buyers to consider:
Make sure your agent, not your agents' clerical assistant, comes with you to your inspection. How else will your agent be able to help you make a good decision, or be able to help you negotiate with the seller?

Regarding those inspectors who try to circumvent the communications between buyer and agent,
I can't say that those inspectors last very long in the business. You reap what you sow ... communication is the key to success.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
@ Kary, I agree! It's awfully nice to see someone else climb the ladder to the roof, or crawl down into the crawl space, and come out all cob-webby!

It's never so fun to see your inspector head down into the crawl space, and pop back out in less than a minute -- one time there was a foot of water down there, and unless the inspector wanted to go swimming, there was no way to inspect. Another time, he simply popped back out for a minute -- with a rat in a cage/trap!

Finding solutions to the problems is part of the inspection process. Sometimes the solution means letting one house go, and finding a different one, sometimes it means negotiating with a seller to correct problems, and sometimes it means a buyer chooses to correct the problems after they close on the property. There are good reasons for all 3 choices.

By they way, both buyers chose to buy the houses mentioned above, and both the water and the rat problems were resolveable problems.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
Your best bet is to find a licensed professional engineer who specializes in home inspections. http://www.inspectamerica.com and http://www.nabie.org are excellent resources.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 6, 2010
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