Basically abandoned home

I’m a new inspector and just reaching out to hear everybody’s opinion on something that is concerning me.
I was called last minute by a realtor that was about an hour away from where I live. She signed the inspection agreement as an authorized agent And said the client lived about four hours away. The house has sat empty for at least a year and had squatters living in it at one point. She called In Another realtor to let me in and he proceeded to make sure the house was clear with a gun drawn.

The house was old but didn’t look bad structurally. There was lots of mold and lead paint and other issues. The electricity, water and gas were all shut off and the house was full of trash. I guess the big question is do I just do the report as is or do I need to worry about liability issues since I have never had any contact with the client?

You missed the opportunity to avoid that house, which is probably why they called you, because no one else would sign on to inspect it. I hope you have already been paid. Don’t release a report if you have not.

You have tons of liability, both because there is no way to properly inspect a home in that condition and because you have zero contact/relationship with the client. I would consider this no be an extremely high liability and would not have touched it for any price.

Good luck with it.

I’m curious, how did you make a positive lead paint determination?


The house was built In 1908 and it appeared to be all original so I just assumed there was the potential for lead paint. I have not been paid yet and I have also not written the report yet. Thank you for your quick reply

Don’t report anything more than the potential for lead paint


Treat it like any inspection.
“The electricity, water and gas were all shut off and the house was full of trash.”
Lots of limitation rule for the above.; a limiting rule or circumstance; a restriction.
Write a SoP inspection. Observation - Recommendation - Limitation.
Remember limitations and you will be fine.

Feel free to reach out to me when you write your report. Should be about 25 pager if done right.

Ya know Robert, you were doing ok for once with this post, right up until you opened your mouth and starting spewing crapola again! You have NO idea how many pages it should be. You have no clue the defects discovered, and no idea what software or parameters he has set for his report. STOP trying to sound smart, because it just makes you look more the WAFI than you already are!


Life is tough with no friends



NEVER let a realtor sign your agreement. Realtors are NOT your clients (unless they are also the buyer) and you will not be protected from a liability standpoint because the buyer didn’t sign anything. Never take payments from realtors either. The client should sign and pay every time. Get your agreement set up with Docusign or another electronic option and make clients sign them before the inspection or don’t do the inspection at all.

You should use strong language that explains that many of the mechanical items could not be tested due to the utilities being shut off, etc. Disclaim as much as you can and have someone with more experience review it before you release it to the client. Make sure the client understands that the home is “in a significant state of disrepair and requires major repairs and improvements” or something to that effect. Disclaim the electrical, plumbing, and gas SYSTEMS and components entirely. You could not test any of them. It’s not the end of the world and you can still redirect this with the right language and comments.

Hope this helps.

Wade, the others have given you good advice. In addition, always research the address/area/etc. before agreeing to do an inspection or quoting a price. This is very easy to do on the internet and even if the address is not in the MLS you can get still use google maps street view and use other address that are close to give you an idea of the area. You can get back to the client usually within 1 hour.

The big flag was not dealing direct with the client and doing the inspection before payment. Sometimes you have to walk away.
Good luck in the future!

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The first issue for me would be, no water and electric.
“Until those items are turned on and the house is in a condition where I can perform a proper, complete inspection, I won’t be doing the inspection”. I have said that on numerous occasions.

Next, I would have emailed the Client the pre-inspection agreement/contract, and if they didn’t sign it, especially if they were not going to be at the inspection, again, not doing the inspection.

She called In Another realtor to let me in and he proceeded to make sure the house was clear with a gun drawn.<

Not doing the inspection!

I have had a few of these requests over the years, and turned them all down. If someone else wants to take on the liability, fine. I don’t need the aggravation, and of course, the request to “finish” the inspection once the water and electric are turned back on, which I am sure will be forthcoming.

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I would like to thank everyone for the great advice. I have learned a lot in the last few days. I ended up not doing the report. I called the agent and explained to her that it was just to much of a liability and I really could not inspect anything properly. She totally understood and agreed. I was not paid for anything and that is fine with me. It was a great learning experience and I will grow from it.


That’s a win, not a loss. Congrats!


Sorry for the edit.

Yes, I know, Jeffrey. When anyone post such as you did its meaningless.

1: As for the realtor.
She got the home listing. That’s what realtors do.
She wanted the home inspected so it could be listed with basic disclosure. A pre-listng inspection likely asked for by the owner.
I did one yesterday for a home owner. Nothing unusual.

2: As for the home.
A one hour drive means nothing to me. I have driven 3.5 hours 1 way, 7 return and 3 hours to inspect the property that was not lived in for many more years than one. Yes squatted in. Welcome to rural property at times.
Monday a 1.5 hour drive one way.
Someone suspected mold and lead paint. Home inspectors can run into this regularly in homes.

C: As for this home. The electricity, water and gas were all shut off. OK.
That should be enough to limit ones report to be condense.
That’s what I know from the OP.s post.

As for liability. Just another home. Nothing extra I can deduce but that me. It’s an inspection.
Hope my reply satisfies you inquiry for it should. anything else would be conjecture.

In my world, unless you have a power of attorney granting the agent power to sign the agreement from the buyer in advance, the agent is your client and not the buyer. The report is made out to the agent and no reference to the buyer as your client.

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Don’t feel bad, when I was new I got a job from a very busy agent. I jumped at it as I figured that this is a stroke of luck and I could make a big impression and get a ton of business. Everything was signed and paid for prior to the inspection and I had learned that the sellers had been out of the country for the last 10 days.
When I arrived at the property the first thing I noticed was that all of the operable skylights were open. Open? Why would someone leave skylights open on a 1.4m home while they were out of the country? The home had 3 levels and the lower level was partially subterranean, unusual for Southern California. The lower level had been painted recently while the upper two floors had not - even though it could have used it. The cabined drawers in the lower level had an inordinate number of candles and there were plug in style deodorizers in several receptacles. Everything seems okay but at the last minute before leaving the lower floor I noticed some mold-like substance on the edge of the bathroom vanity - not on the cabinet floor but just along the edge of the reveal. It appeared that someone had wiped down, painted, opened the skylights and used air fresheners in order to try to hide a mold problem but they missed just one little edge of the vanity.
I reported that I suspected a possible moisture intrusion problem and strongly recommended that they have the home inspected for mold by a mold specialist. You should have seen the agent’s face.
As it turns out, the client did have a mold inspection and the estimated remediation topped 100k. He sent me a very kind thank you and hired me again to inspect the home he eventually purchased, through a different agent BTW.
This super busy agent must have chosen me because he thought that being new, I would either miss this defect or be reluctant to report on my suspicions. He was wrong on both counts. Anyway, when your new and the agents know it, they might try to take advantage of you. I’m not saying turn down the work, I’m saying be on your guard.

Wishing You Continued Success,
Jake Holmes

For me, I do not do inspections for 3rd parties. If the realtor is signing the agreement, she is my client. As far as utilities off etc. No big deal. You just have to state all your limitations.