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So, you see on your schedule a property address that you recognize. You think about it for a while, then you remember - it's the house where the wife shot her husband several times.

Assume the master bedroom carpet has been replaced and there's no other "evidence". If no one at the inspection mentions the previous owner's event, would you?

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So, you see on your schedule a property address that you recognize. You think about it for a while, then you remember - it's the house where the wife shot her husband several times.

Assume the master bedroom carpet has been replaced and there's no other "evidence". If no one at the inspection mentions the previous owner's event, would you?

Not an answer to your question, but don't the zoids have to disclose such?

My realtor-dad had a house listed once like that. It never did sell. . .

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Bill, I would take a few steps to confirm it, to make sure I wasn't mistaken, but then yeah, it's something you know about the house even if it's not on our usual list of stuff. Not in the report, but I would "casually" mention it to make sure my client knew. It's not that I believe in ghosts or anything like that, but it could negatively affect the future resale.

Another, admittedly more extreme example might be if you happened to know there was a registered child molester living next door. and your client has small children. It may not be in the SOP, but I think once you have knowledge like that, you have to pass it on. Just make damn sure you have the facts straight.

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No! Deffinately not! It is not relevant. Neither is the disclosure of the existing or prior neighbors, discussion of the neighborhood in general, the condition or lack of local schools or public amenities etc. etc. Where would it end?

I am hired to report on the condition of the property at the time of the inspection only.

It is unprofessional and evokes both an emotional and moral judgement.

The onus of disclosure at that level is between the realtor or seller and the buyer if at all. Future property values (ROI) are not my responsibility or concern.

In the words of Joe Friday, 'Just the facts, ma'am'.

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...Where would it end?

It's not a slippery slope, Bob. It's also not about the typical neighborhood stuff. We are talking about unusual information the OP just happened to know about this particular house. In my theoretical example, with the molester, it was once again info I somehow already knew about the property. No one is suggesting that it's our job to do a search for these issues or any other unknown outside of the norm, or to put them in a report.

BUT...if you think it's unprofessional to make a client aware of knowledge you already possess, knowledge that could be detrimental to their future ownership of the home, then you are a more cold blooded professional than I am.

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...Where would it end?

It's not a slippery slope, Bob.

... then you are a more cold blooded professional than I am.

My response is not based on 'slippery slope,' although one could certainly argue that.

Rather it exceeds the limit and the authority of my role as a home inspector. As do all the other examples given, which are all equal in my estimation as exceeding those limits.

You can not protect people from themselves (or inform them of more than they want to know.) Any attempt to do so will merely cause resentment and frustration, not sound business practice.

It is their responsibility to inform themselves.

Your post boldened the words typical and unusual as if everyone has the same definition. In truth, we each scale the same circumstances differently depending upon our own experiences as if they were the only ones.

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So, you see on your schedule a property address that you recognize. You think about it for a while, then you remember - it's the house where the wife shot her husband several times.

Obviously, the bastard had it coming.

Assume the master bedroom carpet has been replaced and there's no other "evidence". If no one at the inspection mentions the previous owner's event, would you?

There's certainly no ethical or professional requirement for me to do so. But I would anyway because I'm a blabbermouth and a gossip.

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Philosophical question for Bob Kenney:

If you saw physical evidence of a crime in a house, would you report that? If so, would you merely report the damage (There's a close grouping of 9mm holes in the wall. The floor below the carpet in this area is blood stained. Have the wall patched and the floor cleaned.) or would you make any further comments? (Investigate the possibility that a crime was committed here.)

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I did report, or mention stuff like that. I found a loaded automatic pistol in a large walk around attic in an easily accessible spot. I reported it verbally to the agent and to the buyer. About 6 months later I happened to be doing an inspection next door and out of curiosity I rang their bell expecting my buyers. My guys evidently walked, but the new owner was friendly and I told her what I was curious about, (whether the gun was still there). She let me go to the attic and sure enough, there it was. The attic was now a play area for her kids and she assured me she would have her husband take care of the gun. (Maybe she's the one who shot her husband?)

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I don't get the hysteria over the event in the OP. Lot's of brutal things happen in houses, especially the comparatively ancient ones that Kibble inspects. Births, deaths, plagues, battery, and even the occasional murder. My house was owned by the same family for 111 years, I am fairly certain most of the items on my list occurred there.

The house I grew up in was sold at the end of a bitter divorce and family feud (the dad was sleeping with one of his daughters-in-law) that included gun fights and dynamite. The stories were kinda fun. One of the sons still goes by the name 'Crazy Larry'.

That said, I think it would be amusing to make the disclosure. Who's going to faint first, the RE or the client?

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I work for my client and tell them everythiing I know as fact. I don't recall ever writing a report that included "...remove blood and guts from bathroom". But have recommended professional cleaning of biological stuff (urine, blood, etc.)

Bob,

We have several areas and neighborhoods that are surrounded by super-fund sites. One entire town was contaminated by lead from the local Federal Mogul bearing factory. It was years before it was official, so during that time you think I should have kept quiet? Solution was excavating two foot of soil and installation of water filters. Did I, as a learned professional, agree with that? No and I always felt it necessary to be sure the potential buyers were aware.

In the Lansing, Mi area we have entire huge neighborhoods that used to have mega discharges of asbestos, lead, tri-clor etc and I am supposed to keep quiet? But on the other hand should I tell everyone in the county that there was tons of lead saturated into soil in some locations? Don't really know if there is a single answer.

PS: kid brought a mercury oral thermometer to school, it broke, the entire six block neighborhood was evacuated for several days. Is it reasonable to report that if I know?

difficult question at best.

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Definitely not. Way outside of scope of work. It is, however, very much inside scope of disclosure on the part of the seller, and if not him, the listing agent, don't you think?

Now the question is diff. Is it your job to rat out dishonesty by sellers?

Surely many of us here have found evidence that physically showed failure to disclose. (Obvious remedial efforts to solve problems found during inspection).

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Philosophical question for Bob Kenney:

If you saw physical evidence of a crime in a house, would you report that? If so, would you merely report the damage (There's a close grouping of 9mm holes in the wall. The floor below the carpet in this area is blood stained. Have the wall patched and the floor cleaned.) or would you make any further comments? (Investigate the possibility that a crime was committed here.)

Report what you see. If you are confident (can positively identify) the holes are from a 9mm, report it. Those are present conditions.

Whether or not a crime was committed is speculation, leave that to the client.

The OP suggested that there was no physical evidence remaining. What possible benefit can be achieved by reporting a past event which has no bearing on the present condition of the property.

Subsequent posts suggested reporting on social conditions which again, have nothing to do with the condition of the property. You might as well discuss the weather.

The post about the handgun described a real and present danger. The post did not specify whether or not the property was vacant at the time of inspection.

If the property was vacant I would report the handgun to the police, at that point it was abandoned or discarded and is entirely within their jurisdiction. It is no different than reporting any other immediate safety concern (gas leak, electrical, etc.) At that level of need it is an emergency. Call the appropriate authorities. Don't absolve yourself of responsibility by expecting someone else (the realtor) to report it.

People, myself included, have been led to believe that it is okay to editorialize, simply because this is the standard we are subjected to by the media. It is not okay, it is what I have come to consider 'background noise.'

A constant and unneeded distraction from making well thought and useful decisions.

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Bob,

this is a good discussion. that being said, how do you report alum wire circuits? How about GE dishwashers that burn up, on occasion? Is it a fact that those Amana furnaces with the ethylene glycol actually are junk? etc

I am having trouble seeing your social condition references.

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Well,

Bob is wrong on one count - the abandoned weapon. The police would not have jurisdiction unless Bob knew that the weapon was used in a crime.

A gun left in an attic is just a piece of property left behind by the seller and it still belongs to the seller until the property changes hands. It doesn't have the potential to kill everyone within 100 ft. like a piece of unexploded ordnance or an old box of sweating dynamite, or the ability to poison everyone within five hundred meters like certain unstable chemicals, so the police would probably say, "Thanks for your info, Bob, but we really can't do anything about that. You need to contact the seller and let him know he left a potentially dangerous piece of his property lying around and ask him to come back and get it."

The police do not have a right to the gun just because it's there; they do not even have a right to go onto the property without a warrant unless they have exigent circumstances - evidence the weapon was used in a crime and know for a fact that if they don't act immediately the weapon will disappear, or it's something that has the potential to endanger everyone around such as explosives or unstable chemicals.

The police don't just take peoples' abandoned property; it's more difficult than that. If they take it, there is a long and involved voucher process that has to take place in order to put that piece of property into the evidence room or impound/property room. Until you've experienced the amount of paperwork that cops have to process on a daily basis, you can't appreciate the aversion most cops have to doing it. Most cops I know would have told John to advise the parent of the kids to secure the weapon so that the kids couldn't get it. Then, if the homeowner had only been there less than 90 days, would have told John to advise the new homeowner to contact the former owner to come pick up his/her property and to keep the kids out of the attic until the weapon had been picked up. Unless the seller was unknown and unreachable they wouldn't voucher that weapon into inventory.

As for the question in the OP? If I knew a murder or some other horrible crime had taken place on the property I guess I'd want to know if my client had been told about it by the seller or the agent. Sure, it's not a condition of the property; but it could impact my clients welfare at some future time by making that home more difficult to sell - the same way undisclosed defects I discover could have impacted my client and made the home harder to sell in the future if I hadn't discovered them.

It's not always what you can see; sometimes it's about whether the client is being treated fairly. Some folks would never want to live in a home where a murder has occurred - some it wouldn't bother. Even if my client were of the latter bent - if a murder had occurred there and the murder were concealed from my client, the client is being deprived of the right to decide whether he/she wants to own a home with a possible stigma attached to it that could affect its saleability in the future.

So, if I knew about it, I wouldn't put it in the report but I'd find out whether the client had heard about it, and I'd do it in a conversational way. It'd go something like, "Well XXXXX, I was excited to book an appointment to inspect this home. It's been more than seventeen years since I've inspected an actual crime scene; let alone one where a murder has taken place."

I'm pretty sure that the client would either say something like, "Yeah, pretty cool, huh?" or "What? What crime scene? What murder? What the hell are you talking about?" at which point I'd either chuckle knowingly or feign embarrassment at having spilled the beans, tell him maybe he should be discussing that with his agent, and inwardly chuckle at the ass reaming that I know the agent is about to endure for having not been completely upfront about the home with the client.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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So, you see on your schedule a property address that you recognize. You think about it for a while, then you remember - it's the house where the wife shot her husband several times.

Assume the master bedroom carpet has been replaced and there's no other "evidence". If no one at the inspection mentions the previous owner's event, would you?

No. Because there isn't a chance in hell they didn't already know about something that big.

Somebody always knows someone who knows something.

A few years ago, there was woman in the Syracuse area who got in a habit of serving her husbands and daughter, antifreeze in their drinks. During the process of her relocation, there was no end to the attention given to her house by the media.

I'd find it pretty hard to believe the folks who ended up buying that house, weren't aware of what went on.

As to this business of nine milimeter holes in walls with blood on the floor, for all I know, it could be that cousin Dumbass cut himself with the 5/16 bit he was drilling holes with. Who cares? Fix the holes.

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So, you see on your schedule a property address that you recognize. You think about it for a while, then you remember - it's the house where the wife shot her husband several times.

Assume the master bedroom carpet has been replaced and there's no other "evidence". If no one at the inspection mentions the previous owner's event, would you?

No. Because there isn't a chance in hell they didn't already know about something that big.

Somebody always knows someone who knows something.

Really,

Well Gary, let's imagine the clients were a Korean couple where the husband works for LG and was being transferred to the your area and they hadn't been following the local news? How would you expect them to know about what had happened there. Do you think they'd be interested? Being married to a Korean, I can attest that they not only would want to know but once they knew about it they'd be out that door quicker than you could turn to look at their agent. Despite being an ultra-modern country, there are some things Koreans are skittish about and one of them is ghosts. Someone dying in bed of natural causes, no problem . Someone dying a violent death? They will give the place wide berth.

Ultimately, Bill's question is a loaded one; like a trick question on a quiz because there is no "right" answer. We are all our own masters and we'll each do/say what each of us feels is correct for our own situation based on our own knowledge and experience.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Bob,

this is a good discussion. that being said, how do you report alum wire circuits? How about GE dishwashers that burn up, on occasion? Is it a fact that those Amana furnaces with the ethylene glycol actually are junk? etc

I am having trouble seeing your social condition references.

I always report present conditions (including documented shortcomings of reported items.)

Social conditions reflect the population and interaction of the inhabitants of the immediate neighborhood.

Richard's post suggested that he would report/inform the client of a registered child molester. That is a social condition. Why is it my responsibility to report a neighborhood situation that is easily looked up (registered).

Don't share your personal fears and prejudices.

Is it my responsibility to intervene in a crime in progress? Yes! But only within the limits of my own ability. After the fact it becomes vigilantism, beyond the limits of my responsibility and an unreasonable extension of my own prejudices.

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Well,

Bob is wrong on one count - the abandoned weapon. The police would not have jurisdiction unless Bob knew that the weapon was used in a crime.

Mike

Gun laws vary from state to state. I certainly don't know what they are in Michigan. The weapon needn't have been used in a crime, however, most abandoned/hidden/discarded guns are stolen property.

As far as warrants go, again I'm no legal beagle, but there is a thing known as probable cause. Used, rightly or wrongly, to confiscate all kinds of property, search and seizure with and without warrants.

So assuming your right and as you suggest the local gendarme says they can do nothing you have still fulfilled your obligation.

Most of us, again - including me, will base our decisions on what to do on what we expect the outcome to be. This however is a bad way to go about it. If, for example, as so many do, you've pre-decided that there will be no action or that you will look foolish, then you will do nothing. Inaction is the sorry state of the world we live in.

The OP presented a certain scenario and asked what each of us would do. If for each of the responses the respondee feels he has done the right thing, then so be it. I hope I have not seemed like I was trying to convince anyone of what they should do. Rather, I have merely indicated what I would do and the reasoning thereof.

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As far as warrants go, again I'm no legal beagle, but there is a thing known as probable cause. Used, rightly or wrongly, to confiscate all kinds of property, search and seizure with and without warrants.

Well, I'm a retired cop; so I suppose I could be considered an expert of sorts on this subject.

Seeing a weapon lying around isn't probable cause to believe that a crime has taken place - it doesn't even rise to the level of reasonable suspicion. Something like 35 million citizens in this country own weapons. The mere presence of a weapon isn't a crime and most cops aren't going to be interested in it unless you can give them enough to establish probable cause.

Here's how probable cause works. If you see a crime take place and report it to the police, or they see it take place, they have probable cause to act. If you don't have knowledge of an actual crime and you report something you consider to be suspicious to the the police they might follow up to try and confirm your suspicions but they are not allowed to enter onto someone's private property without something more compelling than you just seeing an unattended weapon. They can't touch that weapon unless the legal owner of the property allows them access to the property; and they can't touch that weapon, or confiscate it, unless they are protecting someone from imminent danger or they are preventing distruction of evidence of a crime that they have reasonable suspicion to believe has occurred.

If I inspect a home and see a bunch of holes that I believe to be bullet holes in a wall, see a bunch of liquid on the floor that I'm convinced is blood, and I see a weapon lying there, I can report that to the police. With those circumstances the police would rightfully have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has probably taken place, and would have cause to ask the owner of the property for access so that they could investigate further, in the hope of confirming that a crime has taken place. However, if the owner refused them access they'd have to take that information to a judge and hope that the judge felt that the preponderance of evidence supports issuance of a warrant. In the meantime, if they were convinced a crime has taken place, and there is reason to suspect that the homeowner would destroy that evidence, they'd have to find a way to prevent the homeowner from destroying the evidence. That's more tricky. It's usually accomplished by taking the homeowner into protective custody and questioning him long enough for someone to get the warrant.

All of this is far from the OP so we should stop discussiong this aspect of it now and just stick to the original question, which is, if you knew a violent crime had taken place in the home and saw that nobody had told your client about it would you tell the client about it or not?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Really,

Well Gary, let's imagine the clients were a Korean couple where the husband works for LG and was being transferred to the your area and they hadn't been following the local news? How would you expect them to know about what had happened there. Do you think they'd be interested? Being married to a Korean, I can attest that they not only would want to know but once they knew about it they'd be out that door quicker than you could turn to look at their agent. Despite being an ultra-modern country, there are some things Koreans are skittish about and one of them is ghosts. Someone dying in bed of natural causes, no problem . Someone dying a violent death? They will give the place wide berth.

Good point, if we're going to include an extremely unusual chance happening like that.

Great question, Bill. Kind of like of one those guys who starts a bar room brawl, then stands in the corner to watch it. [;)]

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I don't know about Oswego, but well over 90% of my clientele these days are from overseas. Most are Chinese or Indian but some other are from places such as Korea, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Vietnam, Turkey, Laos or Cambodia. I've even had a couple from Iran and another couple from Syria. For me, it's be a better than even chance that if I was booked to do a home like that the client would probably be from overseas.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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