I realize there are title attorneys involved but they don’t really protect the clients interests until the title stage, and only in limited capacity regarding title search, etc. They don’t see the all the stuff that goes on during the ratification and inspection periods. Most REA’s use a standard contract here that is pretty generic and I only know of a handful agents who are also RE attorneys. I work with a few of them. Most buyers are not truly represented in these circumstances and are reliant on their agent for professional advice in most circumstances. The title attorney basically represents the transaction anyway. Maybe it’s different where you are Simon?
FYI… From my Report Disclaimer…
Jeffrey - this issue has prompted me to review my language regarding this in my contracts. Appreciate you sharing that. Thanks!
Be sure to include a Disclaimer within (preferably at the beginning) of your Report, as nobody except your Client is likely to ever see the Agreement/Contract!
Yes I’m changing the language for both!
No such thing as title attorney here. We have real estate attorneys that facilitate “the real estate transaction” or the sale of the property (both from seller’s and buyer’s side). Among other things, the buyer’s attorney will purchase a title search via a title company. However, that’s only a part of what they do. The attorney should be able to answer any questions with any legal document involved. Such as the standing of a home inspection provided by the listing agent and how it, if at all, conflicts with the transaction. The retained attorney is not merely getting paid to perform a title search. They also review the contract, help modify it if necessary, etc… So yes, where I live, the buyer’s attorney represents the interest of the buyer and should be able to answer and help with any legal question the buyer may have pertaining to the transaction. It is the job of this attorney to ensure the buyer does not get screwed “legally”. The agents may convey information on behave of the clients but they should not get involved in “home inspection” – it’s not their job. The attorney, relying on the information found in a home inspection and the input from the buyer may request certain things “fixed” as part of the “contract”. The buyer can do this directly but is then risking improper or missed repair work. Everything “legal” other than basic offer should be going through the retained attorney. For example, if there is an oil tank in the ground that is no longer used… and the buyer is concerned about liability, the buyer should discuss this with their attorney, not! RE agents.
Yeah it’s not that way here. MD is a Disclaimer or Voluntary Disclosure state. Guess how many disclosures I see per year? If you guessed more than the number of fingers you have on one hand after your wood chipper accident, you guessed too many. No attorneys in the process here ever see the home inspection to my knowledge. Buyers discuss and weigh defects with their BA or in a lot cases, refer back to their inspector for more information.
No, I didn’t misunderstand it!
My advice stands!
IMO altering that report is definitely unethical, and borderline illegal. If it was me I would start with sending a copy of it to the home inspector that wrote the original report.
Well, I have got to disagree somewhat. (I do not have a Law degree) I believe it depends on who is making what allegations and if the changes, that were written in, are germane to a point being contested. If so, it most definitely could have a bearing on the validity of the contract in its entirety (for the plaintiff, especially if the plaintiff made the changes). If there is no clause to indicates the remaining of the contract would still remain valid, then a Judge could deem it null and void in its entirety just to stop further allegations. Also, there is the Common Law thing: If contracts are not signed and/or any changes initialed by both parties, then the remaining contract would likely be deemed valid, and the changes ignored. Fun stuff.(IMHO) Theo
So I wanted to update everyone on this since we’ve all been discussing it and I just got back from doing another inspection on this same property. The LA had made several written notes on a previous inspection that was provided to the buyer. I shared some of the images with you. After doing the inspection today, many of the items that were marked “REPAIRED” were of course, NOT repaired. This included the loose toilets, still no sump pump installed, and some areas of the basement that previously had mold and were professionally remediated but still had quite a bit of mold in the floor joist cavity areas above the laundry room.
So now, besides the ethical violations that we’ve been discussing, there are material fact issues from another report that I just did that proves these items were not repaired. I haven’t contacted the previous inspector yet. Buyer was extremely upset at the inspection and rightfully so.
Personally I think you can get too carried away with trying to enforce someone elses ethics. I have seen agents talk buyers into all kinds of cruddy deals. Not my problem. In this life my job is to keep my own ethics straight, what others do is beyond my control and that includes agents. You could walk away from this inspection with referrals or a whole lot of enemies. Your choice.
Bob - yeah I talked with the buyers agent about before the inspection. I made sure I documented everything and that the buyer was aware of everything, so it’s up to her on how she wants to proceed. Also found another 15 or so defects that weren’t in the previous report. I try extra hard to be protective of single female buyers because I think they often get taken advantage of at a higher rate than other customers.
I realize this kind of thing goes on all the time. I just thought it was extremely brazen and reckless of the LA to modify that report in the way that he did. In a way that infers that the previous inspector made those comments like Jeffrey and I were discussing. Just plain unnecessary and stupid. He should have just supplied the unedited report or nothing at all.
It’s abundantly clear that there are no consequences for anything in this country any more. Especially in the RE industry.
Great, Mr. Jonas. I have my disclaimer at the beginning and also include the agreement/contract at the end of my report.
If your going to hand out pdf reports you should password protect them. Won’t stop everyone but it’ll stop most.
Totally agree. Stay Professional, do not disparage the previous inspector’s findings (there may be other factors). Take lots of pictures to show what you “found” on the re-inspection and stand by your findings. IMHO Theo Critch
Just so we are clear here, I’m not the one who is being unprofessional in this situation. It’s the LA who has been wildly inappropriate. The other inspector is not who I have the problem with. He is one of the victims IMO.
I ended up not doing anything about this because it’s not worth the trouble for me. It is good for everyone here to be aware of things like this going on though, especially new inspectors. This is the kind of shady stuff they don’t tell you about in HI school.
I believe you left out the beginning where I said,“I totally agree”“and the part”…IMHO.". The excerpt you took issue was just statement of how I approach things, and was never meant as a negative commentary on anyone. Sorry if you took it another way.Cheers All. Theo Critch
They disclosed the alteration to the report. I do not see a problem. Second, not your circus and not your monkeys. Usually, a piece of paper handed to you is only worth the paper it is written on. You can glean info from the report as “blues clues” just like we do with seller disclosure statements, but we never rely on the information. Let it go, do your inspect and move on. That’s my advice.
I know this is an old post, did you reach out to the LA broker or the original inspector? What was the response?
Brian - part of the problem is the way things were done. The BA made an offer for the Buyer which was accepted, the LA returned the signed contract along with the modified report. That should all happen pre offer legally. The report was modified in a way that could easily be inferred by the Buyer that a previous inspection had been conducted and that ALL of the issues found in that report had been repaired. Hence the modifications to the report as explained above. So by providing the modified report, the LA has presented these items as completed, which most were NOT repaired, and also has presented in a way that says to the Buyer “Hey you don’t need to get another inspection, see we already had this one and fixed everything.” That’s the intent of it. And yes, luckily the Buyer got me to do another inspection. But the unethical part is the modification of the report, the lies about the completion of the repairs, and the attempt to avoid another inspection. It’s not a question to me any more as to whether or not this was ethical, it certainly was NOT on several levels. The question is whether I should do anything about it. I’m still in process with this buyer, doing a post repair inspection this afternoon. I don’t want this part to effect her purchase, so if I do report this to the Real Estate Commission, it would be after settlement. I’m still debating that.