Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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When Your Realtor and Home Inspector Are Fighting

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You choose your Realtor, and you can choose who you want as a mortgage lender, home inspector, appraiser, or whoever to help you with the sale or purchase of the home, but what if they are fighting?

When I was buying my current home, I was not aware that my mortgage broker and Realtor were mad at each other.That is until the night before closing. I can tell you that I did not enjoy being put in the middle, for a fight that was quite trivial. Those memories resurfaced last month when I was helping a client. This was the third house that I was inspecting for her. I could say that she was a demanding client, but you have to understand that this is good. Demanding clients can make you think about your work to find ways to meet high standards. With this house, she had a new Realtor, but I did not foresee any problems.
    On the day of the inspection, the Realtor had told me that she was going to meet me towards the end of the inspection. The real estate agent does not need to be there for the inspection, but the meeting can be beneficial. The agreed upon meeting time came and went, so I called leaving a message. I never heard back from her. The next day I receive  call from my client who is quite upset. She states that I did not send a complete report, according to her Realtor, and that this Realtor had never wanted her to use me. My client had not seen my report yet, being at work. I tried contacting the Realtor to find out why she considered my report incomplete. The Realtor never responded. My client saw the report eventually, and stated that she did not know why the report was labeled incomplete either.
    A few days after this incident, I finally receive an email from the Realtor indicating that I had lied in my report, and that I presented no evidence for my findings, so she cast doubt on other findings. I found the language and the implication of the email insulting. I was about to call the Realtor, but I decided that I might say something that I would regret. I remembered how upset I was when people that I had hired were having a fight for my own home purchase. I calmed down, and I wrote an email to the Realtor and my client stating my views on the findings, and that I stood by what found. I offered to meet my client at the home on the weekend, so we could go over my findings. In the end, my client was quite happy with the work that I had done.
    This incident has caused me to consider two things: what should you do when professionals are fighting; and is my report useful. The easier issue was dealing with my report. For years, clients have been thanking me for my reports. I have worked hard to make them easy to read with the intent of providing the needed information for my clients. This has meant that my reports are shorter than reports from some other inspectors; however, I feel that I need to deliver what is best for my client. I have evaluated reports from other inspectors, and I have spoken to clients to see if those reports benefited them at the time. Some of these reports can be great tools once you have settled into your home, but hard to read when you have a day to make a quick decision. I did expand my report in the end, but I am not making a book out of it. I am incorporating basic information to help the client understand some findings; I have included some information to help the client with other aspects of the home purchase (such as how to obtain flood plain information); and I am including some information about sustainable or green features (which  usually discuss during meetings, but had left out of the report for many clients). The report format has improved.
    What is the solution though when people are fighting? In my case during my on home purchase, I went into my manager mode. Having been a manager of large staffs, I had ample experience of two employees being mad at each other. I listened to the complaints of each side; assured them that I would address the situation; and then planned my way forward, but this was all happening when I was going to be at the title company in twelve hours. Not much that I could do. What would have occurred if I ad made an angry phone call? The Realtor would have been calling our client to complain, and the client would have been in the middle of the argument. Buying a home is already a stressful time, and hopefully real estate professionals should remember that fact in order to behave in a professional manner, but if you are faced with this situation, I would suggest calm. If you do not have the option of stating I am not going to work with you, being calm will allow you to deal with this bad behavior. Listen to their complaints, and try to find out what the heart of the matter is. Then assure them that you will talk to the other person, and that you will find a way to resolve the issue. You should remind them that you need them to be on the same page to complete the transaction which will probably be your biggest financial one. With real estate professionals, referals can be important, so you could also ask them: do you want me to recommend you? If yes, then let us find a way to resolve this situation. Be the manager is my advice.
   I am glad that this incident has caused me to re-evaluate my home inspection report. I think that the quality of my reports are improving, and I have a firmer belief that my format is one that will help my clients make better decisions, and that is the point of my service.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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