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Jowers Addresses "The Question"


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In his July 6 Helter Shelter column in The Nashville Scene, Walter Jowers encourages consumers to ask their home inspector the one question that is bound to illicit an evasive response, "Would you buy this house?" and tells them what responses they are liable to receive.

Click here to read the article and see where your own answer to that question falls.

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Mr. Home Inspector, would you buy this house?

Hell no, you wouldn't catch me in this neighborhood after dark plus the home is in need of quite a few repairs, like every other pos in this area. I realize that you don't have much money, and this is about all you can afford, but I recommend you continue renting and pissing your money away.

I thank God every day I'm not in your position.

Will you be paying by check?

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I'm not about to answer that question. I'll talk all they want about what's wrong with it and I have almost no realtors left that aren't black-balling me already, but my job does not involve deciding whether or not I would buy the house. I'm at least the 5th generation on my land; the answer would always be "No". That decision rests with the buyers, and only the buyers.

I think even stone-honest inspectors are generally reluctant to go there for legal reasons. One sue-happy seller with money could make your life miserable. I love ole' Walter, but everybody can't get by with all that Walter can. I'll also quote Mark Cramer: "What I do won't work for you."

Brian G.

My Job: Inspect, Document, & Report

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It's interesting and gratifying that as I've grown older and consummately wiser, I no longer desire to be accepted, liked, or successful for being anything other than myself. I've lost countless referring realtors during the past several years, but client referrals have risen dramatically, and I continually turn away business simply because I can't get to a job within the constraints of a buyer's contract. And many buyers--and some realtors--call me before signing a contract to make certain fourteen or twenty-one days are scratched into the inspection clause so I can check out the house for them. The question posed by this thread is actually flawed, since there are few houses that can't be repaired, rebuilt or whatever. A more appropriate question would be, "How much money, time and energy will I have to expend to morph this house into what I want it to be?" That's the proper question that needs to be asked.

Example: I've checked out probably twelve houses over the last couple of years for a group of young people who all know each other, and who tell anyone buying a house that they should have me take a look at it for them to make certain they know what they're getting into. The most recent young couple was buying a 100 year old beast that was wholly horrible. I phoned the buyers two hours into the inspection and explained that I'd seen enough to know that renovating the old place--not counting cosmetics--was going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy-five to a hundred grand. I told them I could keep on poking around this awful house, or they could pay me for my time and let me write them a letter to get them out of the contract. They showed up fifteen minutes later, spent twenty minutes in the basement with me, and realized the house was a bigger job than they were willing and able to sign up for. They thanked me profusely, wrote me a check for $100.00 per hour of my time, and walked away from that old house feeling ineffably relieved. I checked out a second house for them this past week, and met them at a Starbucks to look at photos and explain what I'd seen. Of everything we discussed, one thing stands out in my memory. At one point the young woman said, "We trust you, John. They'll effect the necessary repairs or we won't buy the house."

That made my day. Much more than the referral of any realtor ever could. And whether business dwindles, or ceases immediately because of my honesty, I'll at least know that I did the very best that I could for my clients and that because of that, I earned their trust. And what's more valuable than earning the trust of another?

As a postscript, while many realtors are slugs, there are, indeed, splendid people in that field who want nothing but the best for their clients. And when those kinds of realtors send me business, I walk through the front door with a smile on my face knowing that I'm gonna do the best job I can, and that if the deal falls through because of me, t'ings are gonna be okay.

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Well, I have to agree with Walter. We're paid for our opinions. I've answered that Big Question a few times. I don't like to answer it, but if they ask my OPINION, then I give it. If it's an older POS and they ask me if "I'd buy it", I might say "If I had the money to buy it and to buy all the building supplies needed to fix all the problems, sure, I'd probably jump on it. I like to spend my free time doing major repair projects."

If I'm standing there with a young couple who've scraped every nickel and dime they have to get into a home, and they've both told me they "don't do home repair thing", then if asked, I'll tell them straight up. On the other hand, that same home may be perfect for someone looking to play DIY HomeMakeover.

Since I don't rely on Agents for my livlihood, it's no skin off my nose if they get their panties in a wad.

Just my 3 cents worth,

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It's really not a matter of losing a lead source aka realtor. The truth of the matter is that we don't live in a black and white world. We deal in shades of grey everyday.

Let's change the scenario a bit. It's a referral from a friend of a friend of a friend. I've just completed another one of those inspections from one of the seeder sides of our town and I'm asked if I would buy the house. If I were to answer truthfully I would say no, the neighborhood isn't safe and the house is run down. Save you money until you can get out of this side of of town and move to a better area like I live in.

The single parent, who has three kids in tow, has saved her money and believe it or not, this is a much better neighborhood than the one she's in now.

I've had quite a few of these inspections. Unfortunately areas of Cleveland and some of the surrounding burbs aren't the toast of the town. It's life in the big grey city.

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I dont think we should have to answer that questiion. We were not hired to tell them to buy or not buy the house, but to give them our opinion on the components of the home. That being said:

Ive been asked that question many times. My answer is always the same. I tell my client that he will be living in the home, not me, and he has to decide if he can live with the issues and monetary cost of repairs and upgrades he wants to do. Every house has value (even the ones that need to be knocked down and rebuilt). The client put in the contract on the home, and it is up to them to decide whether they want to spend the money to fix things and bring it up to their expectations. One thing I will always ask my clients is this - would you have paid $10,000 more for the home? Makes them stop and think about some of the repairs without having to really answer that question.

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