Home Buying in Hillsdale>Question Details

LoveItInOren…, Home Buyer in 97124

Warning to buyers -- get a thorough inspection even on a beautiful magazine-like remodeled house marketed as updated in and out.

Asked by LoveItInOrenco, 97124 Sun Nov 8, 2009

Their disclosure was full of unknowns, they said an inspection wouldn't find much. The three hour inspection saved our bacon. Plumbing, electrical, HVAC, updates were poorly done, no evident permits or inspections, with serious safety hazards. Realtor admitted they knew of the oil tank after we found evidence, it was marked unknown in the disclosure. The water pipes were insulated with asbestos, someone had broken the seal spilling asbestos all over the crawlspace. The furnace duct wasn't attached to the house, but lay on the dirt and the seals were broken, potentially sucking up the asbestos. On and on. When informed of the issues the realtor told us they had a back up offer if we insisted on 'following through with the inspection'. We asked for fixes by contractors w/ excellent references of their choice, permits and they balked. We were so uncomfortable with the realtor and seller's attitude, we moved on. We're worried about the buyers behind us though. How is this stuff monitored?

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi all, I'm the one that posted the question. Just wanted to respond and say the seller's realtor *is* the Principal Broker of his office and so he has even great liability. Made his seemingly cavalier attitude that much more surprising.

Also for buyers looking for a good inspector I found mine on Angie's List where there are grades and reports from previous customers. I chose my inspector based on the amount of time he was noted to spend on customer's property, the level of detail customers said he provided and his past experience. I found him to take his job seriously and did a good job. If you want to find him, I did talk about the asbestos in my report and you could do a search.

Also, wanted to respond to the realtor who said: "You can not "monitor" another buyers deal with this seller. Nor can anyone else for that matter. I want to be clear on that." I'm disappointed you see it that way. This is about health & safety, as a community there is actually a significant responsibility to monitor.

Great idea on contacting news outlets. Most houses today are bought by first timers who are more vulnerable.

I think all inspector's reports should be placed in the disclosure by a neutral third party, and that third party should own the disclosure. Realtors should not own that responsibility as sadly there are some who aren't up to it, and it's an important document.

Happily we found a house the next week...after a year of looking we thought it would take a lot longer. The inspector said it was a much better house in about every way, if not updated as fancy. But we'll take care of that! :)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 28, 2009
This "stuff" is not officially monitored, but you did the right thing. Inspections are essential on all houses. They are not required by law, but you are a fool if you do not get one. If you had an agent, they were protecting you and had your best interests in mind. He/she did their job and you should stick with them. A buyer without a competent agent is just asking for trouble. An agent's services to a Buyer are almost always paid for out of the Seller's proceeds, not by the Buyer. So essentially, the Buyer is getting free representation. If you need an explanation of this, give me a call.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 8, 2009
- Would also reporting the agent to the Real Estate board and to the State of Oregon Licensing board be appropriate?

Sure. Why is that, again?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010

Yes, the original buyer would be very wise to contact the Oregon Real Estate Agency, as well as any principal brokers involved. As for ways to further protect future buyers, it's tough. Posting on Trulia, Zillow and other forums is a great start, but I noticed that the "buyer" was careful to not list the address or name of the agent and seller. That's probably smart, as we all know how people are sue happy nowadays.

I can't think of anything to do other than report the agent to the Real Estate Agency and, perhaps, to the RMLS. She/he can also call OAR (Oregon Assoc of Realtors) and/or PMAR (Portland Metro Assoc of Realtors). Maybe they can point him/her in the right direction.

Beyond that it will be the seller's responsibility to disclose all the material facts he now knows. If he doesn't, he could potentially get sued by an unhappy buyer in the future.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
As a home buyer I'm interested in loveitinoren statement "we are worried about other home buyers" lastatement . Would also reporting the agent to the Real Estate board and to the State of Oregon Licensing board be appropriate? Where else should this buyer go to try and protect other buyers? I think his question is excellent given the market of short sales and forclosures. Maybe there are others out there that have an idea on this?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
I think part of the misunderstanding here (not in the original question and transaction, but in some subsequent comments) is that real estate brokerages do not OWN the homes they "sell". In fact, they don't truly "sell" any homes. Real estage agents are essentially hired to do a service. As a listing agent that service is to market the property (honestly and with full disclosure of the facts!) and then negotiate the sales contract on the seller's behalf. The buyer's agent's role is to negotiate on the buyer's behalf and to consult that buyer as to everything that he/she should know about buying a home. In Oregon, that includes the right to have a home inspection and to terminate a sale based on the findings of that home inspection and/or the disclosures.

Unfortuantely, a listing agent is only as good as their sellers. If a seller does not disclose knowledge of an underground tank, for example, to the listing agent, there's no way for the agent to know that. If she DOES know about the tank, if it SHOULD have been known by any reasonable person, then she is REQUIRED to disclose those facts

At the end of the day, though, it doesn't sound like any of the current laws or regulations were the problem. The problem in this transaction was a shady seller and, possibly, a shady listing agent. If either wilfully misled the buyer or hid material facts, then the broke various laws and regulations.

The previous comments are correct that the buyer should provide the inspection report to the seller, listing agent and listing office knowing that the LAW says that they would then have to disclose all those material facts to the next buyer. In this case, though, it sounds like the sellers knew about the problems, but were hiding them. In this case, the best thing to do is to report the agent to the Oregon Real Estate Agency.

By the way, some of the comments intimate that since different buyers are willing to accept different problems with a house that, for some reason, the seller is not then obligated to disclose those facts!?! Huh? Yes, every buyer has different motivations and different comfort levels with repair issues, but material facts MUST be disclosed. It isn't up to the seller to decide what may or may not matter.

The best thing to do as a seller and agent is always DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE! Better to disclose "unimportant" facts than to not disclose important ones. Disclose everything all the time...every time.

...and ALWAYS have a home inspection!!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
Ms Mash, I am not frustrated, I was deliberately writing with an emphatic tone.

Certainly, many problems in real estate come from a failure to communicate, especially when one party or another have unreasonable expectations.

There is not gonna be any Central Repository of Inspections; it is well worth the $500 or whatever to have your own inspection done, and be able to talk to the Inspector IN PERSON to determine just how bad "bad" is. "Poorly done" is an opinion; "Not to current code" is a statement of fact. (I have a feeling the furnace duct was an inexpensive fix. So is having a service panel corrected.)

And, at the end of the story, houses are large complex systems of systems, and they cannot be SixSigma certified. They have problems, issues, potential problems, serious and minor defects, and have components which are in varying stages of their lifespan.

Most of the times, the problems can be solved with judicious application of money. And, yes, sometimes, there's somebody else waiting in the wings who's willing to take these problems on for themselves.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 29, 2009
Mr. McCoy,

Perhaps some of your frustration is that providing this information is not part of your role as a Real Estate Agent and that's okay. But the buyer needs to have clarity around what your role is and what you do not provide and what your responsibility and accountability is regarding a major investment for those of us that are buying a home. People earn trust when the role they serve and the boundaries are clear to the consumer.

Inter Nachi, provides a list of Oregon Certified home Inspectors, what they are certified to do and some good information on what they are able to do in their inspection.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 29, 2009
The reason that "we" don't want to" identify potential concerns for home buyers is that there are full time professionals who are licensed separately to do this, called Home Inspectors. Also, we don't think you would "take our word" for the condition of the house, any more than you "take the seller's word." - so you'd have a freaking inspection anyway!

Lookit. There is no perfect house in perfect condition. And what is a problem for one may not be a problem for another. It is the Seller's duty to disclose the defects THAT THEY ARE AWARE OF. It is not their duty to look for problems and have them fixed beforehand - that is why the Good Lord invented the Fixer Buyer.

Again: Agents failing to disclose known defects, bad. Seller failing to disclose known defects, bad. House having defects, that's life.

BTW: I wonder how much we're talking about in remediation here? Attaching the furnace duct, decommissioning the oil tank? How much asbestos would make its way through the furnace filter?

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 29, 2009

Thanks for the advice on where and what to be looking for in choosing a home inspector.

This is about health and safety issues and I too am disappointed in Real Estate firms and people. Don't understand why real estate firms don't want to identify potential concerns for all buyers, this as just good corporate and professional standards, that as a buyer, I think should be taken in to consideration in some form. Chinese drywall and some dry wall that has been manufactured in the U.S. is also a concern of mine as a home buyer but there is no assessment of this before a home is put on the market. So basically Real Estate firms sell houses and the onus is for the buyer to make sure there are no hidden dangers in the home they purchase and the next buyer is on his own to also determine if the home is safe.

I concur, a third party,with no conflict of interest that is available to all potential buyers sounds like a great idea. Who do we contact to get the ball rolling to put something like that in place?

Thanks again for your question, answers and concerns for other home buyers. Heather
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 29, 2009
The story doesn't sound quite right. An Oregon agent can speak to this better, but in Washington State, when an agent is aware of a disclosure item, they are obligated to disclose it, as in the oil tank. It's not a federal crime for a house to have asbestos and for homeowners and even agents to be unaware of it; things happen.

And - the fact MAY BE that they did have a backup offer, and that the backup buyer may have indicated that they were ultimately willing to be a better buyer than you were. Which doesn't make you bad in any way, just maybe not the best buyer for this property.

Absolutely, buyers should have inspections - on this, there really is no debate. More people agree with this than agree that ice cream is delicious.

The thing is, people have different tolerances for different things. It doesn't make you or them right, it's just life in the modern world.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 29, 2009
Correction to my first post.. "INMAN REAL ESTATE NEWS" has some very helpful information. for home buyers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 28, 2009
Inspectors are only as good as there skill/level, some are learning as they go, there is no certification or accountability for those that are home inspections according to OREGON LIVE (OREGONIAN) look under Real Estate, IMAN reports. Iman Reports provides some information about home inspections and inspectors. What I'm going to do as a home buyer is ask a number of inspectors for their resume and talk to other home buyers that have used their services. IMAN (sp?) report on this subject says paying more for the inspector is a factor, but not sure that is a good guideline.
Regarding protecting other buyers, I would check Oregon state government website to see which office covers Real Estate to see which office regulates this type of consumer protection. Wouldn't hurt to email the Oregonian staff that deal with business and real estate and ask the question about protecting other vulnerable consumers. Trust is so important when dealing with any business or individual. Trust but validate, may be our only answer, seems there are very few people in business that are interested in the importance of trust in doing business. Don't understand why, it means referrals and repeat business?
The Real Estate Association and/or Board of Realtors that provide rules of business ethics may also be interested in your question about protection of buyers in this situation or what their role if any would come into play. As a buyer myself I appreciate your concern for other people, so many of us are vulnerable. Heather
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 28, 2009
If you are worried about the next buyers, they should have their own inspection too. And if the repairs are as obvious as your inspector found, they will see it as well. And this time, the new buyer may also ask for the same repairs as you did, but there might not be the back up competition, and they may get the work agreed to. It sounds like you were the unfortunate first buyer, and the second buyer will be the seller's wake up call.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 9, 2009
When a home is inspected and issues come up that affect the offer, the buyers agent can share the inspection report with the sellers; then they would be required to disclose.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 8, 2009
Realtors aren't supposed to be home inspectors, and our knowledge of "material defects" is limited. We rely on what our client tell us, or "someone with expertise in those areas."

If, while during a contractual listing rep agreement, a listing agent is told of "material defects" by the seller, and with that knowledge the listing agent DOES NOT disclose it, that may be a big BOZO no-no. Agents should disclose material defects (once they know of them).

That said . . . it is not uncommon for people to check "unknown." Those disclosures don't mean much, and I've always taken them with a grain of salt. What you did -- HAVE THE PROPERTY INSPECTED -- is your "caveat emptor." You did the right thing with getting the home inspected. And yes, it cost you money on a property that didn't make it to close. But if you were uncomfortable with the seller and their agent, then you did what you felt best.

The key to "how is this stuff monitored" is interesting. Here's why, another buyer could come along, and with the DISCLOSURE of all the things apparent in the home . . . they may want to buy it anyway. Just because you didn't want to buy it in its present condition, doesn't mean the next buyer won't. Make sense?

If I feel that the listing agent is not taking something seriously, then I go to the mananging broker, the broker in charge . . . Why? Because it simply is not the listing agents' listing. It's the BROKERAGE -ABCXYZ Realty Co.'s listing. Listing agents are merely the "agent of" said brokerage. If I were representing clients, and I thought that the home inspection would be pushed under a rug, I might take it upon myself to forward the inspection report to the managing broker. The listing agent has an obligation to the general public to present a clear picture of the property.

ALL houses have issues. Some are major, some minor. I tell my clients, as long as it's NOT structural, and can be corrected then we try to iron out those things and get the repairs done to my client's satisfaction. If the seller is unwilling, or unable to negotiate repairs, we might move on, too.

The National Association of Realtors, Code of Ethics Article 2 and Standards of Practice 2-1 "Agents shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to a property . . ."

You can not "monitor" another buyers deal with this seller. Nor can anyone else for that matter. I want to be clear on that. However, the listing agent and brokerage are obligated under the above NAR COE, IMHO.

BTW, your agent should be telling you this, IMHO -- GEEZ!

Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
EBA Portland, LLC
Exclusive Buyers' Agent
Assisting Buyers in Metro Portland since 1999
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 8, 2009
Really good post, and congratulations for insisting on the inspection. As Thesa says, this really isn't monitored. She's also absolutely correct that material facts must be disclosed, and that includes a lot of what you found during your inspection. Still, the one doing the disclosing is the listing agent, and you note that in at least one instance (the oil tanks) the agent was aware of the situation. So--although it would be absolutely unethical--it'd be possible for the agent to feign ignorance again with the next buyer. Depending on the listing agent's broker, it might or might not help to send a copy of your complete inspection report to the listing agent's broker. At least that would encourage him to make sure that the agent updated the listing appropriately, and might prompt some action on his/her behalf.

And, from another angle, maybe a copy of the inspection report to your city or county's permits office.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 8, 2009
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
It is not truly "monitored" however any material facts are to be disclosed. Good for you to have an inspection and do what is right for you - now that those items are "known" they should be disclosed. Sadly, people do lie and not always tell the whole story, thus an inspection is a good idea on ANY home. I applaud you and your agent for doing the inspection and protecting your interest.

Many times a listing agent will use the old - we have a back up offer to try and push the buyer through - the bottom line is - if the repairs exceed what you would want to do - or that they will do - then moving on may be the best thing for you! I hope if they have a back up offer the other buyers are informed - and regardless I hope they too do an inspection. Congrats on protecting yourself - the money spent on the inspection was the best investment you could make into your future home ownership - best of luck finding the perfect house
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 8, 2009
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