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B.C. Inspector Wants Firewall from Realtors


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By Carlito Pablo, November 2, 2011/straight.com

Last summer, Vancouver-based home inspector Ed Witzke drove all the way to Merritt to take a look at a house for sale. A young couple had put an offer on the property and hired him to check it out.

It took Witzke about five hours to go through the house. He arrived a couple of hours earlier than scheduled, and he used that time to talk to the neighbours.

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This summer, I had a listing agent convince buyers and their realtor that I was a deal killer, and the buyers opted to hire someone else. The buyers had walked away from one house I looked at for them, and I thought we'd developed a good rapport, but they wanted the house and told me to have a nice life.

In the grand scheme, not really that big of a deal, but like Witzke, even if I HAD wanted to file a complaint, the only venue that was available was the local real estate board. And that's pretty much like Batman complaining about Catwoman to the Joker.

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A firewall isn't the answer and will never work. You have to address the core of the problem, which is the commission model for real esate sales. Get rid of the commission, and most other problems will evaporate.

Real estate agents should be paid by the hour, just like lawyers. If that were the case, they wouldn't give a damn what we said about the house, just so long as we took a good long time to inspect it.

If a young couple wants to tour 40 houses and make non-good-faith offers on 10 of them, great. Just pay the agent for her time.

It might also cause the public to look more carefully at how much money a real estate agent gets paid when that money has to come directly out of someone's pocket instead of shaving it off the top of a sale.

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Yeah, this is nothing new. Witzke's just another disgruntled HI, not seeing the world he works in. Given the power of the NAR, thinking there's going to be firewall is more than naive.

It isn't going to hourly either.

Customers my age are horrified at the suggestion realtors might be less than wonderful, largely because many realtors make lots of money, and if there's one thing baby boomer's think is wonderful, it's anyone making lots of money. People with lots of money get a pass on pretty much all execrable behavior from oldster's.

Youngsters, otoh, understand. All my younger customers see it, get it, and wonder what to do about it. It'll take a while....changing the form of brokerage isn't something a vocal HI is going to effect. It'll take someone to come up with a better idea, and even then, it'll take a few decades for anything to change.

Until then, realtors will continue to jerk a lot of folks around. It's how realtor brokerage works.....it ain't about disclosure and honesty, it's about closing.

I mean, who doesn't get jacked by a realtor from time to time? I get a few every year.

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The Georgia Straight used to be what we call a yellow journal. An underground hippie rag that is, but this is 40 years later.

Mr. W. tells the yellow journalist that he is the most famous HI west of the Rockies.

He is driving about 350 miles one way to do an inspection?

Things are slow even for the famous. So he stirs up some publicity. Nothing will change, but he might get some calls.

A couple of years ago, he told a reporter that any inspector that takes less than a full day to perform an inspection is ripping off the home buyer. Stuff like that rubs me wrong.

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Hee, hee,

Famous? Witzke must be a legend in his own mind. I'm west of the rockies and in 15 years I'd never heard of the guy.

Maybe it was a freudian slip and the reporter really meant to say that "Witzke is known as the most obscure inspector west of the rockies."

Famous home inspectors? Yeah, maybe if you're arrested for plotting to assissinate the Pope or something, but not for doing this gig we do.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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It'll take someone to come up with a better idea, and even then, it'll take a few decades for anything to change.

What about making an effort to drive the point home to the hundreds (thousands?) of mom and pop banks and credit unions that write mortgages?

Since they have the most at risk, and are now held to a much higher standard of scrutiny regarding the investments they make, wouldn't it be in their best interest to keep the fox out of the hen house?

Does it make more sense for them to leave the decision of who gets the nod to inspect or not inspect the property they're about to have a vested interest in for the next twenty or thirty years, left up to a here today gone tomorrow agent?

Wouldn't it make more sense for an inspectors club to direct their attention to the banking industry than to offer yet another bribe to the very people who will still drive a knife in their backs if push comes to shove?

Why not the banks? Because realtors sometimes sit on the boards? Big deal. So do car dealers. No difference. It is what it is. Things are worth what they're worth. Appraisers don't scratch the surface of what we uncover.

Why not work the banks?

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It'll take someone to come up with a better idea, and even then, it'll take a few decades for anything to change.

What about making an effort to drive the point home to the hundreds (thousands?) of mom and pop banks and credit unions that write mortgages?

Since they have the most at risk, and are now held to a much higher standard of scrutiny regarding the investments they make, wouldn't it be in their best interest to keep the fox out of the hen house?

Does it make more sense for them to leave the decision of who gets the nod to inspect or not inspect the property they're about to have a vested interest in for the next twenty or thirty years, left up to a here today gone tomorrow agent?

Wouldn't it make more sense for an inspectors club to direct their attention to the banking industry than to offer yet another bribe to the very people who will still drive a knife in their backs if push comes to shove?

Why not the banks? Because realtors sometimes sit on the boards? Big deal. So do car dealers. No difference. It is what it is. Things are worth what they're worth. Appraisers don't scratch the surface of what we uncover.

Why not work the banks?

The banks don't care. They don't carry the mortgage for 30 years, they sell it before the ink is dry on the closing documents.

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Jim's right, although less right now than before the bust. Some banks actually carry the paper nowadays.

Banks don't want us for the same reason realtors don't want us. We are the pesky little people that talk about reality. Folks involved in abstracted business (brokerage, banks, stock traders, etc.) don't want reality; investment gets complicated when reality sticks it's nose through the window.

Much better to deal with abstract symbols on the computer screen than some HI report that's talking about the age of a roof or the danger inherent in a stair without railings.

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To add to what Jim K said, the mortgage companies WANT to make the loan. They DON'T care about problems. They sell it off (discounted, of course) to a different investor immediately (usually before the loan is approved) so their liability is gone at that point. The banks/mortgage companies are just middlemen. The days of the bank or mortgage company shelving the loan and keeping it in-house are virtually gone. Despite the foreclosure crisis they don't care if the house is a total POS. In fact, insisting on an inspection would be counterproductive to the goal of pushing the loan through and getting a quick payoff.

It's a mess.

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