Unscrupulous agent

I did a home inspection to day I was about 3/4 of the way through when the buyer showed up. I stopped and was explaining to him a problem I found in the family room. There was water damage under the window on the baseboard and on the wall above the base board. I was telling him that there was an obvious problem here and it could be from when the house was lathed that is was done wrong. The house has a stucco finish on it. In walks in the buyers agent who’s name I will leave out. He start telling the buyer it is no big deal just add rain gutter outside to keep the water away from the all it will be OK. The wall is getting very wet from the run off from the roof and the ground is very wet could be coming up from under the slab also. I wanted to tell him to shut up and go away but I bit my lip and called my client later and explained to him what the problem could be and that he need to get a Contractor to inspect and correct the issue be fore he moves in and replaces the flooring


How would you have handled this situation?

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Speak to your client alone, tell him the truth and cover it in the report.:slight_smile: Simple

Cover it thoroughly in your report and your photos, make your “strong” recommendations, document your conversations with the client and if they chose to believe and go with the agent, then when the lawsuit comes they can go after the agent. I usually do recommendations in bold italics just so they can see it clearly and not claim it was hidden or lost in the report. After that move on to the next job. You didn’t take them to raise.

My favorite quote is “Its the lawn sprinkler hitting this area”, all you have to do is adjust the sprinkler so it doesn’t hit the house and it will be fixed.

I then usually say, when your done doing that have God adjust the rain because water intrusion is occuring become SOMETHING is suppose to be water tight is NOT water tight. Adjusting ths sprinkeler head will not prevent rain from entering the area.

Great comments guys as experienced Inspectors we have ran into Agents like this guy before and know we will again. I thought it was a good topic for those who are new to this field and have not had the pleasure of dealing with issue yet. Of course I took plenty of pictures and my comment are in red and I most differently spoke with my client after the Inspection.

Avoid being interpreted to agree with the agent.

I have known inspectors who put the agents name and the recommendation in the report.

“Water penetration noted at xyz. Agent John Smith stated problem could be resolved with gutters however I am unable to say if that will resolve the problem. It will not repair the visible damages. Recommend further evaluation by a contractor”.

Be careful doing that. Its negative marketing and picking a fight.

I would have perhaps said “Water penetration seen at xyz. Cause of water and conditions in the wall are unknown. Refer to the sellers disclosure for possible information. Recommend contractor evaluate this problem and determine a remedy prior to closing”. Some inspectors might add a mold disclaimer or infrared recommendation.

Your correct not to pick a fight with the agent as my reports are typically sent to the agent as well as the client unless asked not to. I did mention the mold like substance on the on the baseboard and that it could it be inside the wall as well along with any wood rot they may be a result of prolonged water intrusion. This home is 8 years old and it appeared as if a couch was in front of this wall and the damage was never noticed or dealt with. Recommending further evaluation by a Licensed Contractor.

I got a rule: If the agent misinforms the client three times, I correct what the agent said in front of the agent. Other than that I just tell the client later. Now if I know the agent is a down right crook, I do not care what I say in front of the agent, so my gloves are off.

If a client inherits a moisture problem… they are likely to have to disclose the repairs and I would have to say that could leave a subsequent buyer “wondering” as to the adequacy and lingering problems of the repairs.

These banks “don’t have to disclose… much/if anything” at least for now. There is still a huge back log of homes that will be sold REO in my areas… and a bunch of aXXorneys sharpening their teeth for the undisclosed / poorly disclosed problems that end up financially (or worse) harming buyers.

An example… I performed an inspection in Palmdale CA… there were some structural defects in the garage. The buyers ultimately walked and I inspected a subsequent home. Another buyer moved in… ended up finding out about the structural defect and a host of other problems (cut liquid line next to evap coil for one).

Here’s a quick breakdown that’ll probably get “heard”

All of these items (above) were sent as a “Request for Repair” to the selling institution when my client was in the prior transcation… the selling institution refused and my client walked. Don’t they know now??? <-- They still don’t have to disclose?

The subsequent buyer moved in… later found the problems. Oddly enough, a neighbor had written down my info from the truck (I have phone number etc on truck). The new buyer called me up and ran the gamut of 20 questions with me.

He (the new buyer) knew that “They knew” … was that fair?

Used house salesmen sell houses. It’s their job. They resent lenders that turn down their client…they resent appraisers that don’t give them their asking price…they resent home inspectors that find fault with the property.

Period. Any salesman who says otherwise is lying.

Neither we…nor the public…has any right to expect otherwise. All of us who have sold a house know that we care much more about getting our price and selling it fast than we care about how much the buyer “likes it” after the close. These salesmen are paid from the profits of our greed as sellers.

That is all there is to it.

Smart buyers will not fall for their fake “concern” for their well being and will hire a full time professional home inspector to protect their interests. Naive people will trust the salesman. It’s called “capitalism” and it is just the way it is.

Home inspectors who link themselves to used house salesmen will want the public to believe that there is no conflict of interest and that they do not write soft reports. They …(wink)… only work for the “honest” salesmen.

It’s all a game, folks. Lie to the public all that you want…just like the used house salemen do…but there is nothing to be gained by lying to each other.

You are a part of the real estate sales establishment…or you are not. If you are … you are a part of the sales process. That is all there is to it.

I agree!!! It’s all about ethics state the truth, there are diplomatic ways of doing this as we supply a service to our clients but never mistake that that service as something more. As if you go down the road of massaging the true (someone actually used that term and asked me and an Industrial Hygienist I work with if we could do that SHAME of course we wrote the report correctly) you will be soon be known for that and have to live with yourself. You find all kinds in every industry.

I frankly would stop the agent and correct them on the spot explaining to them why it is not so simple as they assume. Politely, but firmly. Nobody gets to downplay my report in my presence. There would not be a second or third time. This really doesn’t happen to me very often and when it does, I think it’s usually out of ignorance vs. lack of ethics. So it’s more a matter of explaining why it’s more significant than they realized than a point of conflict.

Fortunately, I apparently travel in better circles than Bushart. I don’t have the mutual animus that he seems to have with agents. Good buyer’s agents aren’t committed to particular house, they would rather find their client another house than push them into a bad one. If you choose to assume that all agents are evil, ethically challenged and self-serving (any more than inspectors are self-serving), you will perceive everything that they do will in a way that reinforces your opinion (that’s how prejudice works). Better to assume that they are professionals, until they behave in a way that convinces you otherwise. Each one is an individual and should be judged by their own actions.

Anytime an agent tries to trivialize what I am saying to my client, I stop them and say “that isn’t exactly correct or in this case, that may be the problem but then again, it could be this”.

The most common is the anti-tip bracket. “You don’t need one unless you have children”.

The other issue is of course lack of permitting. The agents really don’t like it when I inform the client that the improperly performed addition converting the garage into a master suite wasn’t permitted and the client should determine what the ramifications would be in owning such a property.

I’m with Chuck. I try to be very diplomatic and not start a fight with the agents. If an agent interupts me when I’m explaining a problem to my client, depending on my mood and the agents tone I might say simply …

Will all the home inspectors in the room other than me raise their hands !

OR I might tactfully say …

Mr Buyer, I have 3 degrees 1) Construction Mngt; 2) Mechanical Engineering; and 3) Real Estate with graduate real estate law classes. I normally don’t do this but I have about 50 times more training and education in real estate than the agent does AND since they seem to want to do the home inspection portion I’M gonna take over the real estate process AND walk you through what we’re gonna negotiate for.

It usually does one of 2 things … We get back on track OR the agent leaves in a huff and calls their Broker (most of whom know me).

Bottom Line is if they get in MY deal, I’ll stomp theirs into the dust. Its my firm belief if we let them get away with crap - they keep doing it.

Show me the outside wall…