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Marketing in this business is like any other retail business but there's a destructive arrangement here not seen elsewhere. Agents and HIs rub shoulders constantly and solicit the exact same crowd for work. Agents come together under a brokership and can generate large sums for funding huge advertising campaigns. HI's are typically lone rangers and can't afford such advertising power. HIs crave what the agents have and agents desperately want HI reports pruned down to nothing because reports don't sell houses, just give buyers a reason to walk away from the purchase.

The result is Collusion. HIs that do it allow the agent to influence the report in return for referrals. They can experience quick success while agents experience fewer lost commissions. It can be very harmful to the buyer though. It's in widespread practice because regulatory bodies and HI societies just don't have the backbone to do what's right...not yet.

Without regulations against the practice, every individual HI must decide what he's going to do. The decision says something fundamental about his business ethic.

Just my own opinion.

Marc

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Yeah, not bad.

Regulatory bodies may one day step in. Massachusetts has some kind of weak proclamation prohibiting collusion, but it's limp.

Professional societies are unlikely to ever come out against it. Too many members feed at the trough.

In my market, it seems to be self regulating. All my young customers get it. I just did a series of videos for John Marshall Law School educating future real estate attorneys about our gig. One of the segments is about the mess of realtors and HI's.

The young future attorneys watched it, smiled, and nodded.

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One of the first things I ask when I'm hired as an expert to help defend a home inspector lawsuits case is did the real estate agent refer the home inspector to the buyer. I just picked up a new case last week on an inspector and after reading the report, it could be used as a pillow it is so soft. Guess who referred the home inspector to the buyer..... Later today I have a conference call with the legal team where I will be recommending they should attempt to settle, quickly!

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Drift: One of my EW jobs involved a Realtor referred HI who missed or omitted a bunch of obvious problems during his inspection but mentioned that the house had been very well maintained. Does anyone ever mention in their reports that the home is very well maintained even if it is? "Satisfactory," is as positive as I get.

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just got NACHI cert. No ride alongs...thanks

You passed the test that a 12-year-old can pass. No offense, but that is just a start, yes you have some intact brain cells.

Join a local association and attend meetings.

What can you offer that is not already available? Work on that.

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Drift: One of my EW jobs involved a Realtor referred HI who missed or omitted a bunch of obvious problems during his inspection but mentioned that the house had been very well maintained. Does anyone ever mention in their reports that the home is very well maintained even if it is? "Satisfactory," is as positive as I get.

I did it a few months ago. It was deserving. I don't think I've done it more than a handful of times in the past decade.

MA has taken the initiative on collusion legislation and it's enforcement but leaves much to be desired. They made the mistake of adopting language that's near impossible to enforce. The best way is to prohibit HIs from soliciting.

Marc

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Drift: One of my EW jobs involved a Realtor referred HI who missed or omitted a bunch of obvious problems during his inspection but mentioned that the house had been very well maintained. Does anyone ever mention in their reports that the home is very well maintained even if it is? "Satisfactory," is as positive as I get.

Never do I utter those words, it is the kiss of death in court!

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Drift: One of my EW jobs involved a Realtor referred HI who missed or omitted a bunch of obvious problems during his inspection but mentioned that the house had been very well maintained. Does anyone ever mention in their reports that the home is very well maintained even if it is? "Satisfactory," is as positive as I get.

I did it a few months ago. It was deserving. I don't think I've done it more than a handful of times in the past decade.

MA has taken the initiative on collusion legislation and it's enforcement but leaves much to be desired. They made the mistake of adopting language that's near impossible to enforce. The best way is to prohibit HIs from soliciting.

Marc

I see nothing wrong with marketing ones services to folks that can help get your name out in the public. It is how one allows those that refer you to control your life and ethics that you must be on alert and protect from happening at all cost.

When I moved to Nashville 8 years ago, I marketed my services like a NASCAR race car has logos on it! Every single real estate office was visited, mints and business cards were handed out to everyone I made contact with a couple days a week for just about an entire year. Did I like it? Heck no, but it was the only way I could get my name around town quickly. It worked pretty darn good.. Thank you Mike Crow for some of the ideas you provided and I used!

I must say that it has been six years since the last time I visited a real estate office marketing my services. Once you become established you can market in a different way but you should never stop marketing.

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I know of many local inspectors who do it. They tell me that they manage relations with agents so no harm is done to the buyer...and I believe a very few of them (as I believe you, Scott). Problem is that those that do it, gain an enormous advantage over those who don't and not every inspector is going to be as successful in managing relations.

It's risky, very risky if I may say so. Like speeding on the highway, it should be prohibited because not all drivers are as skilled as the few who can do it safely.

It's for the sake of the profession.

Marc

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Thanks for all your input,very helpful. I was a mechanical and plumbing contractor,lisc in 3 states for 36 years and sold my company to my son 8 years ago,I know about liability. I also have a Marine Survey company I have operated full time since selling my mech company to my son. A lot a my business is referrals from marine dealers. Yes it sounds like the same thing were talking about here. All I can say is many times the dealers will refer me and I have to give the customer bad news,I then do hear from them for awhile, but they always call refer me again. Honesty and Integrity. Many Many times the customer who was refereed to me by the marina will say whats wrong with this picture,Marine broker selling the boat, referring a marine surveyor, what am I nuts:My reply is always ( why would I jepardize my career over a $ 300.00 job. And I mean that. It always seems to work...Thanks again

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Prohibiting real estate agents from recommending inspectors is silly because it's unenforceable. That's why it didn't work in Massachusetts and why it won't work anywhere.

Some of you guys spend WAY too much fretting about real estate agents. Look at some of the silverbacks who have a couple of decades or more in the field like Van Alstine, Mitenbuler and Katen, to name a few.

Ever read posts from them worrying about agents? I can't recall one.

If I ever taught a Newbie HI class, this is how I would cover the topic.

"Brokers: Smile at 'em, speak politely, and work your ass off for your client."

Incompetent and dishonest HI's and real estate agents have been around since the earliest days of the HI profession and they'll still be around long after we're all dead and forgotten. Time and energy spent fretting about them would be far better spent on improving your own skills, or just going for a walk.

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Prohibiting real estate agents from recommending inspectors is silly because it's unenforceable. That's why it didn't work in Massachusetts and why it won't work anywhere.

Some of you guys spend WAY too much fretting about real estate agents. Look at some of the silverbacks who have a couple of decades or more in the field like Van Alstine, Mitenbuler and Katen, to name a few.

Ever read posts from them worrying about agents? I can't recall one.

If I ever taught a Newbie HI class, this is how I would cover the topic.

"Brokers: Smile at 'em, speak politely, and work your ass off for your client."

Incompetent and dishonest HI's and real estate agents have been around since the earliest days of the HI profession and they'll still be around long after we're all dead and forgotten. Time and energy spent fretting about them would be far better spent on improving your own skills, or just going for a walk.

Can I have an Amen from the choir, or the Silverbacks will do just fine!

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I agree that prohibiting agents from referring inspectors is silly.

What I'm plugging is a prohibition against inspectors soliciting agents.

The two might sound the same but there's a world of difference between em'.

Marc

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All afternoon i was sure that Morrison called me a sliverback and was going to come up with a smartass remark. Then I realized and saw the error in my reading and am quite flattered!

Jim Morrison is a rare thing in this bidness; he has seen it from many angles and was raised up by one of the best - his Dad. Thanks for the compliment.

It is true that we don't seem to worry about the agent. However, it is silly to think you can be antagonistic ala Dennis Robiltille? I have a little advantage because I never had to go around to different offices, nor try to convince them I was the best. I was just lucky. I did use that time reading and attending classes, any class, and then reading publications like Fine Homebuilder, etc. Now a new inspector should spend at least an hour or two a day online and then discuss it with someone in the real world. For instance - read all about csst, then come here and ask questions or offer your thoughts.

Unfortunately, I have likely been a party to several dozen actions against inspectors and several dozen where I was an advocate. As an expert, you don't always get to chose which side.

Nothing above is unreasonable and all of it can work for you. Re-read Marc's comments and try to get his perspective. That perspective is unique because of who he is and where he is.

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Marc,

The fourth post in this thread (yours) speaks strongly in favor of prohibiting agents from recommending HIs.

Your last post is much more permissive. Fair enough.

If your opinion on this is still evolving in the face of new information, then I credit you.

I recommend anyone new to the field to search the archives for the collective wisdom of the group and retain an open mind only so far as it protects the homebuyer and adheres to the truth.

Cheers,

Jimmy

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  • 7 months later...

I believe that it is acceptable to solicit work from Agents or anyone else for that matter. It's not like you can avoid being recommended by Agents once you are established in the area. Unless of course you don't trust yourself. When it comes to collusion, there is plenty of literature out there defining the ethics of home inspections. I don't recommend service providers or contractors, for repairs, and I don't perform any. I make sure my customers and agents know this up front. I have seen inspectors recommend as well as bring contractors to the inspection. One inspection, in particular, the inspector with his cohorts insisted that the roof and gutters be replaced. They also "recommended" that the a/c system be replaced. I won't bore you with the list of recommendations. Conveniently the trades were there to provide estimates for the work. The house was 5 years old and it had a tile roof. The air conditioning unit was operating as it should have been. The inspector told the that the temp split was unacceptable and that the unit was undersized for the house. None of this was true. The home is 3200 sqft. They charged 975.00 for the inspection. This is not uncommon.

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...I don't recommend service providers or contractors, for repairs, and I don't perform any...

There's some similarity between agent/HI collusion and HI/Contractor collusion. The difference is that contractors don't limit their soliciting to homebuyers. They generally solicit every homeowner.

Interesting position, Tom2tone. Agent/HI collusion is in a much greater position to prosper because agents and HI's solicit the same exact crowd.

Marc

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Many Many times the customer who was refereed to me by the marina will say whats wrong with this picture,Marine broker selling the boat, referring a marine surveyor, what am I nuts:My reply is always ( why would I jepardize my career over a $ 300.00 job. And I mean that. It always seems to work...Thanks again

A Anton

And, there it is. THE ANSWER.

Nobody in their right mind would without question, take a referral for a mechanic from a used car dealer. Why would you trust a used house dealer?

I saw room full of light bulbs flicker over the heads of the students I presented that same scenario to, in a first time buyers program I'm involved with.

It's not about doing battle with anyone, or legislating anything. It's way more simple than that. It's about educating people. They get it. They're learning. It's up to us to get the message out.

Robiltille, might have the right idea. He brings it to the wrong audience.

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Robiltille, might have the right idea. He brings it to the wrong audience.

Sorta the right idea. Too confrontational and 20th century thinking. Kids already get it; they just need it framed and presented in the right form.

Definitely brings it to the wrong audience. HI's, as a group mind....forget it. It's like an obese man fumbling around trying to find his dick.

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