Back in 2002, there was a Realtor/Mortgage broker about 45 miles away who was giving me an inspection a week, sometimes more. The first ten or so he showed up on time. But as we got to know each other, he got later and later, sometimes not even showing up, and his Buyers never showed up. He’s the only Realtor here whose Buyers never came to an inspection. He attributed it to the fact that I don’t speak Spanish (sure wish I did) and that all his Clients were Spanish-speaking, not even ESL. After about six months of useless drives up to Escondido, I started increasing the price on his Clients because I knew there would be wasted time. Eventually I was adding a $200 “aggravation surcharge” whenever he called. All he had to do was say, “This is John Doe” and the starting price was $200. It went up from there. Eventually it got so frustrating that my aggravation surcharge got up to $400. He always paid, never blinking an eye. I just told him that I had to increase my price to cut down on business because I was soooooooooooo busy.
Well, a couple of years later he quit calling. I didn’t miss him at all, but eventually I found out that he was upcharging the cost of the inspection, so regardless of what I charged, he always added $250-$500 to it. Finally one of his Clients called him on the exorbitant fees on the closing statement, and an audit proved that he was upcharging for others’ services (illegal by both state and federal laws) and, sometimes, charging for services that were never even performed. He currently is serving time in the lock-up.
That gave me an idea on how to work with certain other Realtors, such as anyone claiming to be in the Top 10 for their brokerage. I don’t have a lot of respect for Top 10 Realtors because I find that their version of ethics don’t mesh with my version of ethics. Consequently, since July 1, 2007, if they call, or if their Clients call because they found me on the Internet, I tack on a minimum $500 aggravation surcharge. If it’s a Top 10 Realtor from Rancho Santa Fe or Heritage Golf Estates, where the minimum price for a property is a couple of million dollars, I tack on a $1,000 aggravation surcharge. They can take it or leave it, makes no difference to me. I’ve had a few take it, which then makes it worthwhile.
Also since July 1, 2007, for the occasional price shopper who wants to hassle for 30 minutes over $5, I’ll tell them that I have a “hassle” surcharge of $50, which they can take advantage of by keeping me on the phone for just five more minutes. They laugh. Sometimes they’ll book, sometimes they won’t. Makes no difference to me; right now I’m booked at two STANDARD or BASIC inspections a day through the end of the month, and I’ve got a lot of property investors looking for times to take me out for DRIVE inspections.