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Les

Stress - a "dirty" word?

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I have a few minutes this morning before my first appointment and thought I would try to get a discussion going about inspector stress.

I have an office approx 5 miles from my house, no listed home telephone number and use my office address for nearly everything.

I have done really a good job leaving my work at the office every day for the past twenty or so years. I never talked to my wife or friends about any specifics of the day; names, places, etc. I would talk a little about what I had seen during the day as regards new materials, cool gadgets etc.

The last few years I find that quite difficult. The days are just too filled with angst, bickering, poor real estate agents, clients with no money, crap houses, etc.. Michigan has been in a depression for six years and we have no signs of recovery.

Last week we, as a company, inspected 21 houses. None were occupied and all were foreclosures or empty short sales. All were tagged, stickered, boarded, winterized, vadalized etc. All were selling for about 25% of their mortgage balances. A 2008 quater million dollar house selling for $60,000 and 2008 $100,000 houses sellling for $15-20,000.

Yesterday I personally inspected three houses. All three empty foreclosures. Most expensive one was $51,000. All were HUD/FHA owner occupied offers. All three were pieces of crap. All three were supposed to be able to meet min HUD standards. None did.

For example: #1 had flooded crawl with no access that was used as a warm air return for a 30yr old gas forced air furnace. I looked into floor registers to see dirt, water, worms and mud. Same house had 100amp panel by kitchen sink (10"), 5+broken rafters, no plumbing venting. This house "passed FHA" three years ago and sold for $160,000.

#2 - Total finished basement and attic spaces 100% covered with mold. Standing water in basement, sump was hole in concrete with no entrance piping. Found main water shut-off and main electric panel permanently covered with paneling behind the rotted basement wall.

#3 - No attic or crawl access; four layers of roofing, rotted sewer pipes leaking into dirt crawl as viewed from 12"x12" hatch. Gas forced air furnace, standard basement upflow, installed in dining room with no ductwork. Abt 36yrs old with single wall flue laying on top of exhanger and then on to brick chimney, unlined. This one also had electric for garage coming from neighbor, but that is ok because the neighbor knows it and not much power is used.

Good = I helped three dumb buyers and pissed off three agents

Bad = I enhanced my reputation as a S*B.

It is stressful. We do not talk about that aspect of this business. We should.

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Les, I am sure that you also get some notes like the one I got this morning (they help make up for the agent complaints and associated stress):

Thank you for your time Steve. Vince ( his four year old son that attended the inspection and I handed him a plastic flashlilght so he could "Help" me inspect) had a great time and I found the whole process to be very informative. I'm sure we'll talk again when we're ready to do some work in the house (he told me that he wants to do an addition in the future and wants me to be the architect).

Thanks again,

*name removed*

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In my area, only a greenhorn agent would fix his/her clients up with an obvious POS like that. I know it is different down your way, but I'm sure you can forget about peeing them off. Will your clients find a better place? If so, that is a small pat on the head for you.

If none of these places are beyond repair, then having new owners in them will eventually raise the standards a bit, as the renos get done? Maybe that is where the focus should be to stimulate some employment?

I have my home office upstairs where we sit at night, so I get to vent on a regular basis. But your story makes me feel privileged to live near a town with a surviving economy.

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I was relieved of a little stress this morning, when I had the pleasure of spanking two agents in person, together.

This is a small town. People should be more careful about what they say behind other's backs. Especially, about someone who has no fear of embarrasing your lying ass in front of your co-workers.

The best part was when I told them that a professional sales person with any kind of talent at all, wouldn't blink an eye at what was written on a report or said by an inspector. A professional would know how to overcome objections and negotiate their way through it, instead of pointing fingers and losing the deal.

My stress level is way way down today.

All I need to do now, is stay away from that damn golf course.

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I finally figured out about twenty years ago, when I was going through some really bad personal situations, to mentally check all worries and cares at the door of my home. They're not going anywhere, and I can't act upon them usually after hours. It's worked well for me. I literally "turn off bad thoughts" when I hit the door, as if there was a shelf for it all in the foyer. It will be there waiting for me in the morning.

I'm sad that so many of you guys are going through such a hard time. I was told in 1989, by a friend, "when most of the nation has pneumonia, Richmond only has a cold." I immediately moved there (here). And, it has proved to be the gospel. I don't know why this town is so resilient, but during the worst of this economic slump, my revenues dropped off about 66% for a while, but quickly crept back up. I probably run, now, at about 70% of what I used to in the good ole' days, but even at that, last month I performed 35 inspections.

It does help that I've been doing inspections here for nineteen years and am well known. I'm sure that gives me a leg up on a lot of guys.

For what it's worth, about 30% of my inspections are relo work, another 35% is foreclosures and short sales. It's most definitely a buyer's market and anyone that can avoid selling their home now, is doing just that - sitting tight.

Also, to make life easier, I've done, as I said I would: sold everything I own - EVERYTHING. The estate sale begins Friday. Then, I'll be moving into my travel trailer, which is pretty nice. My entire cost to live will be a mere $645.00 a month (site fee, water, sewer, trash, cable, internet and electric) The only factors left are groceries, vehicle maintenance and gasoline. I can pretty much survive on three to four home inspections a month. The rest goes in the bank.

I've reduced my cost to live now three times: once two years ago (50% reduction), then about a year ago (another 30% reduction) This move reduces my total cost to live by another whopping 75%.

I'm keeping my home, but renting it out.

It's extreme, but I can turn on a dime and handle just about anything that comes down the pike now - short of an alleged "Act of God".

We can't do much about the economy, but there's always plenty of wiggle room in how much it costs us to live. [:-graduat

As far as jerks go in everyday business... I always tell them with a smile - to there face - "You don't have permission to ruin my day." And, I just keep smiling... I guess Abraham Lincoln said it best: "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Life is good...

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I'm not seeing anything here that's even near as bad as what Les is describing.

For what it's worth Les, what would those buyers do without you?

Marc

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...

Yesterday I personally inspected three houses.

...

Right there might be your problem. Three houses in a day would stress me out no matter what condition they were in. It's very rare that I'll even take on two. I would never attempt three. Maybe if I were half my age...but I'm not and, Les, judging from your photo and the lack of cranial covering, neither are you. There's no amount of money worth the getting if it kills you in the process! Slow down a bit. You've earned it.

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Who declares a home is up to snuff with HUD/FHA? Why aren't these guys held under a higher standard? Or at minimum the standard at which is already set?

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Who declares a home is up to snuff with HUD/FHA? Why aren't these guys held under a higher standard? Or at minimum the standard at which is already set?

The standards are not enforced. I've requested help from them several times over the last 5 years. They respond only via phone calls to avoid a paper trail. Bottom line is that it's too much trouble for them. My impression is that they don't give a damn.

Marc

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I didn't mean to whine about the economy, we have adjusted to that part of our life. We are still a profitable company and I guess I work about as much as I want.

The stress is dealing with another round of house sales to folks that can't pay for them. The inspector is the person that tells them the bad news. " A $15,000 house is worth $15,000" That is hard to hear when that same house sold two year ago for $120,000+-

Nobody has mentioned the dollar liability - it is possible to have $1,000,000 liability per day.

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Stress reliever:

"Erby:

Thank you so much for a wonderful report. I knew I picked a good one when I picked you. I don't have any questions at this time. I believe your report explains it all and with pictures too. I will recommend you whenever I can. You are so thorough. It was a pleasure meeting you and doing business with you. Sincerely, Iris"

This was from an 80 year old lady (whose 50 year old son-in-law electrical contractor was there the whole inspection).

Some days you gotta love it.

Remember: It's a wonderful day. YOU woke up this morning. Some people didn't.

Most of us have it better than 98% of people in the word.

-

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...

Yesterday I personally inspected three houses.

...

Right there might be your problem. Three houses in a day would stress me out no matter what condition they were in. It's very rare that I'll even take on two. I would never attempt three. Maybe if I were half my age...but I'm not and, Les, judging from your photo and the lack of cranial covering, neither are you. There's no amount of money worth the getting if it kills you in the process! Slow down a bit. You've earned it.

Hey Richard,

You are correct, there should be no 3house days! But if you think about it these houses are very quick to inspect and do not even come close to any SOP or standard. What do you report about house #1 in my example? "HVAC, electrical, structure do not meet HUD min standards". Why bother writing anything more?

I usually do abt five per week if I'm really hungry and someone is on vacation. I would really love to spend three or four hours in a house, with the client and another hour or so writing report.

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Stress reliever:

"Some days you gotta love it.

CBS: Yes we do

Remember: It's a wonderful day. YOU woke up this morning. Some people didn't.

CBS: I'd debate that. I look forward to the day I don't wake up. I know where I'll be =)

Most of us have it better than 98% of people in the word.

CBS: I'd say all of us.

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Hey Brother Les,

I'm picking up what you're putting down.

Most of us don't have co-workers to commiserate with. We all deal with a buttload of stress and every last sinner among us is underpaid.

One of the many valuable things about this site is the ability to vent our frustrations to a bunch of like-minded folks.

My Dad retired a bunch of years back. He taught me most of what I know about this gig and he always thought of himself as a sort of 'Lone Ranger' for homebuyers. He really took the ethical portion of this job to heart. Clients loved him for it, and so do I.

It's a tough job for anyone with a medium sized brain and worse if you have a big heart. Still, it's what we do. When I get frustrated I remember one thing my Dad used to say about us home inspectors:

"Think for a minute what the housing stock would be like without us."

Think of all the problems that got repaired, all the disasters that never happened, all the injuries that never occurred because we did our job.

Now that you mention it, I'm going to pick him up at the Nursing Home tomorrow and take him out for a beer.

Feelin' sentimental,

Jimmy

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I finally figured out about twenty years ago, when I was going through some really bad personal situations, to mentally check all worries and cares at the door of my home. They're not going anywhere, and I can't act upon them usually after hours. It's worked well for me. I literally "turn off bad thoughts" when I hit the door, as if there was a shelf for it all in the foyer. It will be there waiting for me in the morning.

I'm green with envy as I've never been able to do that. If I can't put something behind me it'll gnaw at me until I do.

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Hey Brother Les,

I'm picking up what you're putting down.

Most of us don't have co-workers to commiserate with. We all deal with a buttload of stress and every last sinner among us is underpaid.

One of the many valuable things about this site is the ability to vent our frustrations to a bunch of like-minded folks.

My Dad retired a bunch of years back. He taught me most of what I know about this gig and he always thought of himself as a sort of 'Lone Ranger' for homebuyers. He really took the ethical portion of this job to heart. Clients loved him for it, and so do I.

It's a tough job for anyone with a medium sized brain and worse if you have a big heart. Still, it's what we do. When I get frustrated I remember one thing my Dad used to say about us home inspectors:

"Think for a minute what the housing stock would be like without us."

Think of all the problems that got repaired, all the disasters that never happened, all the injuries that never occurred because we did our job.

Now that you mention it, I'm going to pick him up at the Nursing Home tomorrow and take him out for a beer.

Feelin' sentimental,

Jimmy

You should definitely do that Jimmy. I'd give everything I own to be able to have just one more beer with my dad.

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I compartmentalize the stressful situations.

Most people think I don't, because I'm usually pretty wound up and tend to let loose on folks, but the truth is there are some pretty stressful things ongoing in my life that I haven't/can't share with folks here and haven't shared with most. I cope by dealing with the stuff that I know I can do something about and I section off the other stuff; kind of like putting a book on a shelf - and I basically put it out of my mind most of the time.

I don't think it's so much the job as the current way we Americans live. Not so long ago, if someone needed to reach you, they called you on the phone. If you weren't there they (Maybe) left a message on a machine. Then they waited a reasonable amount of time for you to call them back. Now they track you down via text message, cell phone, twitter or whatever and need everything answered/completed NOW. We used to have time to sit back and really consider things carefully before we signed something or committed to something; now we're expected to do it or have answers yesterday. I think that's what's causing everyone stress.

Just my opinion; worth the price charged.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I finally figured out about twenty years ago, when I was going through some really bad personal situations, to mentally check all worries and cares at the door of my home. They're not going anywhere, and I can't act upon them usually after hours. It's worked well for me. I literally "turn off bad thoughts" when I hit the door, as if there was a shelf for it all in the foyer. It will be there waiting for me in the morning.

I'm green with envy as I've never been able to do that. If I can't put something behind me it'll gnaw at me until I do.

It began as a mental image for me, kinda like setting your briefcase down - until it became a way of life. You said it right - stress will gnaw at you, if you let it. I just refuse to let it take away my happiness anymore. In the long run - dwelling on a thing rarely solves it. I"m a big fan of brainstorming, but stewing never works.

Try it. You probably can do it, if you really put your mind to it. Just remind yourself that it's not going away - just put down for the evening.

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You should definitely do that Jimmy. I'd give everything I own to be able to have just one more beer with my dad.

I'm 41 and have had enough beer with my Dad to float an aircraft carrier. We've drained 'em in countless places, a dozen states, three countries, and two continents. Air, sea, and rail. I'm sure I didn't appreciate them all, but i never took one for granted.

Anyone here remember Ballantine Ale? Schlitz?

These days, he's kind of tame, smiles a lot, and like to laugh at old times. Sorry to hear you can't have one with your Dad, but you're welcome to join us if you're in the area.

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Anyone here remember Ballantine Ale? Schlitz?

I do as well as Strohs and Schmidts. I never cared for the taste of Strohs, when I was young, but I now I think I would really enjoy it (it was kinda in your face). This neck of the woods we also had P.O.C. beer - Pride of Cleveland. I actually remember 3-4 bigger breweries in this area back in the early 60's. My favorite is Blatz as it reminded me of the noise you made after 5-6 chilly ones.

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My best friend since 4 yrs old now lives in Newton. I've been up once to visit him a few years ago. I'll be sure to look you up the next time I'm in your neck of the woods.

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Hey Brother Les,

I'm picking up what you're putting down.

Most of us don't have co-workers to commiserate with. We all deal with a buttload of stress and every last sinner among us is underpaid.

One of the many valuable things about this site is the ability to vent our frustrations to a bunch of like-minded folks.

My Dad retired a bunch of years back. He taught me most of what I know about this gig and he always thought of himself as a sort of 'Lone Ranger' for homebuyers. He really took the ethical portion of this job to heart. Clients loved him for it, and so do I.

It's a tough job for anyone with a medium sized brain and worse if you have a big heart. Still, it's what we do. When I get frustrated I remember one thing my Dad used to say about us home inspectors:

"Think for a minute what the housing stock would be like without us."

Think of all the problems that got repaired, all the disasters that never happened, all the injuries that never occurred because we did our job.

Now that you mention it, I'm going to pick him up at the Nursing Home tomorrow and take him out for a beer.

Feelin' sentimental,

Jimmy

You should definitely do that Jimmy. I'd give everything I own to be able to have just one more beer with my dad.

I'm right there with ya Ben!

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Anyone here remember Ballantine Ale? Schlitz?

I do as well as Strohs and Schmidts. I never cared for the taste of Strohs, when I was young, but I now I think I would really enjoy it (it was kinda in your face). This neck of the woods we also had P.O.C. beer - Pride of Cleveland. I actually remember 3-4 bigger breweries in this area back in the early 60's. My favorite is Blatz as it reminded me of the noise you made after 5-6 chilly ones.

How about: "Hey Mabel - Black Label!"

and... Hams - "From the land of the sky blue waters..."

One of my old roomates was a religious Schlitz guy. It didn't do much for me, though - too mild. I like a beer with some kick.

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