I recently had the privilege of sharing some time and information with a television news reporter who was doing a story on real estate brokers and agencies that refer only those home inspectors to their clients who pay a fee. Both of us were of the understanding that a real estate salesman had a fiduciary responsibility to act in their client’s best interest in regard to the activities leading to the purchase/sale of a house and both of us were shocked to find this to be untrue.
One agency was collecting a fee of over $9000 per year from a home inspection company for referrals. The reporter laughed as he put himself in the place of an inspector with that much money invested in getting leads from one source and asked himself, aloud, if he would ever write a report that put the house he inspected in a bad light. "I'd have to be crazy to write anything that might kill this deal," he said. Then, as we screened a list of names of "preferred" inspectors that one agency had published after collecting money from the inspectors on the list - we found an inspector who was graded "F" by the Better Business Bureau, yet appearing as a "preferred" inspector based upon nothing more than his willingness to pay for the referral. Some states have passed laws prohibiting this practice but, in one state with such a law, these lists were still found by the reporter. "They would go as far as to violate the law in order to collect these fees?" the reporter asked. "Why?" I had no answer for that, or for why so many home inspectors belonging to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors and the American Society of Home Inspectors would violate their own code of ethics to pay these bribes? While times are certainly hard, they are never that hard where we put the best interest of our clients second to something like this. Does your agency solicit bribes from home inspectors? Film at eleven.