Would you hire this home inspector?
I recently ran across the Independent Home Inspectors of America’s website and, in particular, its “About” page.
There isn’t one word “about” the group here, only a piece titled “Home Inspectors and Conflicts of Interest.” Basically a more-than 1,000-word screed, denigrating real estate agents, it is full of misleading information and downright untruths.
I have no idea when this particular piece of vitriol and misinformation was posted, but that the group chose to post this trash in a place where folks typically go to learn more about them, belies their disclaimer at the top of the page.
Real estate agents only want to protect their commissions
“Most real estate agencies work on an average commission of 5% paid by the seller of the property,” the inspector begins. “A house selling for $350,000 has a potential commission of $17,500.”
He then goes on to explain that some agents recommend one inspector, some give buyers a list of three and then wonders, aloud, how these inspectors got on the agents’ lists.
“Is the agent recommending a thorough non-bias [sic] inspector or is the agent recommending someone who will help protect the potential $17,500 commission?”
Now, I don’t know the statistics on how often agents double-end deals, but this man calculating a possible broker’s commission, while omitting the fact that the agent will only receive part of that commission, is odious, at best.
Here this guy is trying to warn consumers about shady real estate agents, all the while being twice as shady as any agent I’ve ever met.
Warning: real estate agents try to force clients into using a certain inspector
In my many years of selling real estate and my many years of writing about it, I have yet to hear of even one agent who tells a client that he or she “cannot use an inspector” of his or her choosing.
Nor have I heard of agents who “insist” (as the inspector claims) that clients use one of their ‘recommended’ or ‘approved’ inspectors. Yet, this inspector is warning the real estate consumer about these practices, as if they are common.
Again, he mentions your commission, while mangling the fact that the buyers’ agent does NOT work for the seller:
“Prospective home buyers must keep in mind that real estate agents who receive a commission from the property seller, are working in the best interest of their client, (the seller.) As the prospective home buyer, you are a customer of the agent, not a client.”
Get ready for your blood pressure to hit the roof
In the next section of his critique of real estate agents, the inspector goes into his definition of the term “deal killer.” He defines it as one “ . . . used by real estate agents to taint home inspectors who give buyers objective / non-bias [sic] information.”
He then goes on to bring up your commission again, saying that agents view deal killers as “ . . . obstacles to the sales commission,” and that you “will use a number of tactics to control the inspector selection process to make sure that prospective buyers do not retain independent home inspectors.”
Good LORD this guy is amazingly rude.
First of all, a “deal killer” is an item within the inspection report. It does NOT commonly refer to the inspector, not in any way, shape or form.
Although, it could.
How about the inspector who interjects subjective information into the report? Instead of “The HVAC system is nearing the end of its life. I recommend replacing,” he or she says “The HVAC system is dead and it will cost you $20,000 to replace.”
Or the guy that makes mountains out of molehills – you know, the one who blows up photos of electrical outlets with no covers as if it’s the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it to have to go buy a 79-cent plastic outlet cover.
That guy IS a “deal killer.”
Deal killers are deal killers and when a buyer’s agent counsels his or her client that because the seller refuses to take care of the termite damage and the existing termite infestation, the deal should be killed, is most definitely working in the client’s best interest.
Real estate agents “steer” clients to certain inspectors
The inspector now gets into how agents “ . . . control the inspector selection process,” by discouraging buyers from using certain inspectors while encouraging them to use more “agent friendly” ones.
In essence, he thinks it’s wrong for you to say anything nice about an inspector who you work with frequently, who provides prompt service, who writes thorough reports and does his or her job like a professional.
It’s all about control
This guy’s major beef turns out to be “The Current Control Real Estate Agents Have Over The Inspector Selection Process.” But, he takes it a step further in stating that consumers are not free to “choose a home inspector.”
Naturally, agents have “control” over the inspector selection process. Inspectors have no way of reaching homebuyers – it’s not like buyers sign up on a list somewhere.
The only way an inspector learns about homebuyers is when he or she is contacted by an agent or buyer to procure their services.
Think of this way: instead of “home inspector,” imagine this piece was written by an obstetrician, warning pregnant women not to trust their general practitioners’ referrals to obstetricians, because the GP may have a vested interest.
Imagine the obstetrician hinting that the GP is accepting money from OBs he refers his pregnant patients to.
That is how ludicrous this inspector sounds.
To remedy this, he suggests that homebuyers email their members of congress and include a link to the guy’s website (have no idea what he expects THIS to accomplish).
He also suggests that buyers “do not ask the real estate agent for the name of an inspector . . .do not accept any short list of recommendations from the agent,” but to “choose your own inspector.”
That this man is pitting a vulnerable homebuyer against his or her agent – his or her only advocate in the process -- because of some perceived slight by an entire industry, is despicable.
I pity the homebuyer who reads this man’s garbage. What a disservice he has done to the home inspection industry.
What a disservice he’s done to his own business. I highly doubt that there is a real estate agent in his area who will ever recommend his services.