So I am doing an inspection this Friday for a client who has made an offer on a property. After making the offer, the LA provided the BA with a copy of an inspection report from Nov 2020, which was a decent report and found several important issues. The LA provided repair receipts for some of the defects found. I also received a copy from the BA. What I found most interesting and concerning is that the LA also modified the previous report with written comments like “REPAIRED” or “OPERATOR ERROR” or “NO RADON” before providing it to the BA. No pictures of the repairs, only receipts. Of course I’m going to do my own inspection on Friday regardless, but hasn’t this LA crossed a line by modifying the previous inspectors report? Should I inform the other inspector that his reports are being modified without his knowledge? Seems totally unethical to me. Thoughts?
Are you positive the LA hand wrote over the report or did the seller?
I guess I don’t see how written comments on a report makes the report altered. If they had removed information or edited the report in PDF. That would be alternating the report. IMO
The BA told me the LA made the modifications. It’s not hand written, it’s done in red typed text, appears to have been edited in PDF form.
Alterring a contractural legal document?
I would speak to the LA’s broker and possibly the prosecuting attorney.
Another ball game. I would do as Larry just stated.
Larry, I think I at least should tell this inspector other right? I’m seeing so much unethical stuff on so many inspections lately because the sellers market is so strong here… This was HomeGauge software too, so something to be aware of for inspectors who use this. I don’t think anyone can do this to my reports because they are links not PDF’s, but now I’m going to try it and see. I’m curious if there is anything in the real estate law here that specifically prevents this.
Will the BA back you up on the altering? Need proof before spreading it around. IMHO
She said it was the LA but I don’t know that I can prove that… I do have the report with the modifications and email from LA, so it’s either the LA or the seller, but the LA is the one who provided it so would be complicate either way. It was also provided post offer, which is another issue.
Email from BA:
"The listing agent made the “repaired” notes on the report.
He stated that he does not have a copy of the radon report because it passed the inspection. "
I think for me, I sure would want to know if someone was doing this to my reports after the fact. I think an uneducated buyer could easily receive this and think everything is repaired and they don’t need to do another inspection. It could easily be misconstrued as a post repair inspection. Luckily my client is smarter than that.
Unless they removed the items from the report, I do not see a problem with it. They made notes to show that they have been addressed.
No good deed goes unpunished. Is the previous inspector “harmed” by these “notes”? mostly it’s the buyer that can be harmed by relying on outdated and or incorrect information. The buyer’s agent should explain this to the buyer and so should the hired home inspector.
InterNACHI’s standard PIA that many use says:
"You will be the sole owner of the report and all rights to it. "
What do you believe “all rights to it” means? with such PIA, the inspector releases any copyright rights. It’s similar to when a programmer writes code for employer. The employer will hold the copyright to the code and can do whatever they wish with it.
Simon - what’s the good deed here?
Yeah but: - InterNACHI’s standard PIA that many use says:
"You will be the sole owner of the report and all rights to it. "
The LA is NOT the “You” referenced above. The LA has no right to modify the report and has no ownership of it. That ownership belongs to the previous buyer and/or inspector depending on the agreement language.
I guess another bigger question arises - why would the LA provide this at all? If all of these defects have been repaired, then just let the new buyer get her inspection and it should be fine because everything is repaired, right? Why risk the liability of modifying this report?
I think the answer is that the “repairs” in this industry are often half-assed or never done in the first place and the LA is trying to avoid another inspection that will document this.
This buyer did another inspection with me a few months ago on a flipped house and there were no permits pulled for that property and it never had municipal inspections. My report identified several major issues including a completely ungrounded electrical panel, improperly vented water heater, active water intrusion, etc. She asked for 18 or the 35 defect items from the inspection. The sellers contractually agreed to make the repairs. I was called out for a re-inspection post repair, and only 3 of the 18 items were addressed (none of the safety hazard items). Buyer refused to accept the property without these repairs, rightfully. She countered with a cash reduction so she could get the repairs done herself, but the seller did not agree. The LA on that property re-listed the same property the day after the release without any other repairs being made and no disclosures or modifications to the listing.
You getting involved between the agents, who modified what, telling the other inspector, etc… is the “good” deed. I wouldn’t do that, I would keep it simple. Tell the client point blank any old report, especially one he or she did not pay for, must not be relied upon. Then let the client do whatever with it.
You are assuming this. Once the report is sold… the client (the owner of this report) can give it out to whomever for whatever reason. There is no law against making notes on someone else’s HI report that I know of. Do you know of such law? not in my state. The report is not a contract to buy a house. If the buyer is dumb enough to rely on it to make an offer, that’s on them. Always consult an attorney if you don’t know how to proceed with a legal document and or large purchase, such a house.
The client should have an attorney and you are not it. Yet whatever you are asking or wishing to do falls on the side of the attorney’s responsibility.
Is it ethical? probably not… but neither is the RE industry. Are you going to fix it? Okay, good luck
Ryan, I may have misunderstood this. I thought the LA changed the report from one result to another…my bad, if that is the case.
Gotta get out the door, now!
Maybe post a picture or scan it so we can see the edits.
I get your points, thanks. I had advised her accordingly, before this post.
This info was sent to the BA, AFTER the offer - which is also unethical.
How many buyers are actually represented by attorneys? Almost none I would bet.
Imo I don’t see any wrong doing by writing, in red letters, additional comments. The original reports information is still unmodified and the Buyer has an opportunity to verify the comments. If the info is incorrect, and the LA or Seller intentionally tried to mislead the Buyer that might warrant seeking legal counsel. Proving it would be the challenge. But to paraphrase the saying - Don’t ascribe evil when often ignorance is the cause.
“The LA on that property re-listed the same property the day after the release without any other repairs being made and no disclosures or modifications to the listing.”
In New Mexico there would need to be disclosure. It is best practice to do so before an offer, but definitely, at a minimum, needs to be provided to the Buyer during the inspection contingency.
FWIW I have a RE license. Your state RE laws will differ. One thing I have learned is that people think they know the law, and they do not. As a REA we are not supposed to practice law. The preceding opinions are taken from Broker Duties.
Here you go, screenshots:
I think the one that is most concerning is the sump pump one, because the LA/seller is trying to bypass the clear defect of the missing sump pump, etc. “Builder design - basement has never flooded.”
Hope you were joking.
IMO… Definitly UNETHICAL and INFERS those statements/comments are included by the inspector, thus… an Attorney should send a letter 'splaining the legal issues to all parties involved!!
Thank you Jeffrey - I think the INFERS part is pretty important!