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Realtor Interference, or Misunderstanding?


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I'm in the middle of an interesting situation. Week before last I recieved a call from an out-of-town mortgage broker about a client moving to Starkville (20 miles away, home of MS State U) from Chicago. They wanted an inspection on the house. I got in touch with the client and did a contract via the neighbors' fax (they don't have fax or email). On Friday I set up the appointment with their agent (who works for the listing agent) for Monday morning. I told the guy I would be over early to start on the outside, and he could come out later to let me in.

Monday morning I'm over there working, he never shows. I've done everything I can outside, so I called him and asked if he was on the way (hint-hint). He didn't even remember me at first, then said he was coming. Five minutes later he calls back, making no sense. He puts the broker on the line who claims the client already asked them to get it inspected, which they did long since. I politely replyed that I had a contract with the buyer, and asked if they were coming to let me in our not. She dismissed me with a line about "misunderstandings" and "duplication of services". I said I'd take it up with the client.

I tried all week to contact the clients, to no avail. They were supposed to be coming down to close this past Thursday, but I never got a call back. Tonight the clients called back. They've been tied up elsewhere, and are not at all happy that I was cut-off during the inspection. They never asked for an inspection to be arranged, and know better than to do so via the realtor. The closing has been moved back to this coming Thursday, but if I'm not allowed to inspect the house on their behalf there will be no deal.

Just for the record, the realtors over there are a tight group. They send everyone to the local inspector, whom I believe does not rock boats. The office I'm dealing with has lost all of my brocheres twice (including the holders), so I quit leaving them.

This could get interesting.

Brian G.

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Yep, sounds like the zoid tried to run interference.

I've had two of those the last month. The buyer calls and says they have to cance. They apologized and said they "didn't realize the agent had already set up the appointment with her inspector".

I had a nice guy stop Friday while I was doing an inspection and asked about my services. He told me his agent told him he'd have to pay $395 dollars for the inspection on a 1500sf home. He said he'd like to also get an inspector of his own choosing to look at it also. I scratched my head and told him that by Texas law he had the choice to choose his own inspector and appraiser. I also told him that many people see a conflict of interest when an agent referrs an inspector. He walked off with our card and said he'd give us a call.

Brian, I think the agents tried to railroad you and your client and by all means you and/or the client should file a complaint with the state real estate board. This is what it will take to get these jokers attention. How about a call to the local newspaper?

Donald

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Originally posted by Donald Lawson

Brian, I think the agents tried to railroad you and your client and by all means you and/or the client should file a complaint with the state real estate board. This is what it will take to get these jokers attention.

I may well suggest that after I talk to the clients face-to-face. I want to very sure they didn't ask for or approve the other inspection being set up.

How about a call to the local newspaper?

You mean the one the realtors buy mucho ad space in (and I don't)? I have my doubts about their interest.

And of course the realtors will stick to the "misunderstanding" defense in either case, which is hard to disprove.

I would really love to get my hands on a copy of the other inspection after mine is done, to compare. But since the clients have no intention of paying for the other one, that probably won't happen. If the clients get legal later the first report would be fair game, and that part could be damning for the realtor and the inspector if they were holding hands on this.

From what I've seen on the exterior, the plot may thicken when I see the disclosure...

Brian G.

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If that had happened to me, I'd be dealing with whomever made the appointment. They set it up, so it is their responsibility to notify you of a cancellation.

Then, I would try even harder not to deal with brokers when setting up appointments. We speak with the folks who will be paying our fees directly in all but the most unusual circumstances.

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What Jim said.

I eat a few jobs a year when weird stuff like this happens. I don't get all huffy for the fee, as it can make a bad situation worse. Invariably, the extension of good will on my part has always won over the customer & resulted in additional referrals or benefits.

If there is, in fact, hanky panky going on, not huffing about the fee makes one look lily white should there be an "ethics dispute". It is probably bad business, but thats' my approach. It's only happened a couple times, and each time I've come off as the ultimate good guy. Worked for me.

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I don't talk to my clients through the agents, but once I have a signed contract I take over and deal directly with the listing agent about getting in. It's less for the client to deal with and a shorter line of communication for me. Never had a problem before.

The clients in this case are not easy to get in contact with, both work long hours 6 days a week. I finally got cell numbers this last time, so that should help.

I agree with you about the fee, Kurt. When I finally got a return call the lady said "Don't worry, you'll get paid" before I said a word about money. I said "I'm not worried about the money, I'm concerned that you might be getting taken for a ride on this." For me, the money is very secondary at this point.

Brian G.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

I don't talk to my clients through the agents, but once I have a signed contract I take over and deal directly with the listing agent about getting in. It's less for the client to deal with and a shorter line of communication for me. Never had a problem before.

I NEVER deal with the listing agent. It is the client's or buyer's agent's job to coordinate getting me entry. They should be at the inspection anyway.

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To echo Chris' comment, I always ask the buyer to arrange access to the property. On the rare occaision an agent is handling everything for an unavailable client, I still make sure my Inspection Agreement is signed before the inspection and payment is due at the inspection. Still, I haven't been able to completely eliminate screw-ups. S**t happens!

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Originally posted by chrisprickett

I NEVER deal with the listing agent. It is the client's or buyer's agent's job to coordinate getting me entry. They should be at the inspection anyway.

I know it's the popular method these days, but I've chosen not to have the client at the inspection in my early years. If possible, I like to be alone. I take my time (no distractions), go back to the office to finish the report and review anything I'm unsure of, print photos, etc. Then I meet the client back at the property within a day or two, with report, photos, and answers at the ready. They get see everything first hand, ask questions, etc., then I get paid. I realise most would not consider this, but I find it comfortable for now. I expect to reach a point one day where change will be in order.

Chris & Paul, who picks the time for the inspection?

Brian G.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Chris & Paul, who picks the time for the inspection?

Brian G.

Okay, I'm not Chris or Paul (thank goodness!!) but I choose the time of inspection. When do you prefer to go to work? If you're doing only 1 inspection a day, then you may want to schedule it during the mornings and come home to write the report. I do two and usually schedule 1 at 10 a.m. and the other at 2 or 3 p.m. depending on how close they are and how large the homes are.

Your the head honcho, the rules say you get to choose cowboy. [:-cowboy]

With that being said, if your system works for you, more power to you. You can pull a Frank Sinatra and do it your way baby! Why? because you're the head honcho!! (are you beginning to see the pattern here)

Donald

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Originally posted by Donald Lawson

Your the head honcho, the rules say you get to choose cowboy. [:-cowboy]

Why? because you're the head honcho!! (are you beginning to see the pattern here)

Donald, I think maybe you've been in Texas too long (and you forgot "ramrod"). [:D][:-dev3][:D]

Brian "Lazy G" Goodman

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Dena, my office queen, schedules all my inspections. In special circumstances, she consults me, but I usually do what I'm told.

My schedule is online (proprietary access) and I block off times my other inspector or myself are off. It works extremely well. When you let the Realtors dictate your schedule to you, it becomes a downward spiral.

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Originally posted by chrisprickett

When you let the Realtors dictate your schedule to you, it becomes a downward spiral.

I'm usually trying to accomodate the seller (who is also a potential client), not the agent (never had one at an inspection). It's negotiation, not dictation. If the time which is best for them isn't good for me, we work something out. I get whatever time I ask for on 9 out of 10. I have to juggle occasionally to keep one from getting by, so I do it. In my market there very well may not be another one coming tomorrow. Given my popularity with the local RE community, rigid scheduling would sometimes provide an easy excuse to switch the buyers onto someone else.

Ah, but the day will come...

Brian G.

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Brian,

I choose the time of the inspection. Every effort is made to accommodate the buyer, but the inspection has to fit MY schedule.

I also do everything I can to have the buyer follow me like a puppy dog. It slows me down, but the benefits outweigh the cost. When the buyer is with me, I have an extra set of eyes, I learn all about his hot buttons and he knows exactly what I did and didn't do. Make the buyer a friend and if you screw up you're much less likely to hear from an attorney.

Just my take on things...

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My inspection times are 9AM & 1PM, but I have learned to be flexible. I will try to accommodate my customers request for a specific time within reason ( 8 AM, 3PM, etc). Also by having set times for my home inspections, this allows for scheduling of Specialty type inspections (Draw, Audit, Insurance, Single items, EIFS, etc) to fill in as needed.

I tell my customer the day and time and then I tell them to get with their agent/homeowner to set it up and if they have a problem to let me know. In ten years I have only had a few "misunderstandings" about the time and day.

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Originally posted by Paul MacLean

Brian,

I choose the time of the inspection. Every effort is made to accommodate the buyer, but the inspection has to fit MY schedule.

I also do everything I can to have the buyer follow me like a puppy dog. It slows me down, but the benefits outweigh the cost. When the buyer is with me, I have an extra set of eyes, I learn all about his hot buttons and he knows exactly what I did and didn't do. Make the buyer a friend and if you screw up you're much less likely to hear from an attorney.

Just my take on things...

Ditto! Especially the make friends with client thing.

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Originally posted by Paul MacLean

Make the buyer a friend and if you screw up you're much less likely to hear from an attorney.

Oh yeah. That concept has been discussed a few times, and it's a sound one for all purposes. Make them love you.

Brian G.

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We had a similar situation last Saturday. I try and confine my appointments to Monday-Friday, but will occasionally make an exception, and charge extra for weekend inspections.

On Saturday, we show up 20 minutes early and start on the outside. At 10 a.m., no client, no agent. I try the buyers cell...no answer. I page the agent, and she calls me back about 15 minutes later. I asked her "Don't we have an inspection today?". She repied "Not that I'm aware of". When I told her the clients name, she said that it had been done that Wednesday. I didn't blow a gasket until about an hour later, the buyer called. I knew that there was little chance of recouping my fee, but I did let her know in no uncertain terms that I certainly didn't appreciate wasting my time on a Saturday morning when I had numerous other things I would have rather been doing.

Fwiw, the appointment was scheduled by the client, and confirmed on the Tuesday prior to the appointment.

As Paul said....Sh*t happens. It was too nice a day to let it ruin the rest of it.

David Fogle

HomeScope

Augusta, Georgia

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We had that happen more than once. They'd call and then go shopping or the agent would talk them into using "their preferred" inspector.

We've pretty much stopped that s**t from happening with a cancellation fee in our contract. I've never collected on it but it does make them think if they're planning on cancelling. Generally if they're planning on cancelling, they do it shortly after receiving the contract.

Donald

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We've pretty much stopped that s**t from happening with a cancellation fee in our contract.

I did the same thing, $75 if canceled 48 hours before the inspection or 1/2 the inspection fee if canceled within 24 hours of the inspection.

Of course this only works if you send them the agreement in advance.

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I'm with the Warganator. If they are honest about their reason for cancelling and it's legit, I don't bill them. If they say: "Hi this is Joe Bag O'Doughnuts and I need to cancel my appointment for tomorrow. The deal fell through." That means they made an appointment with someone cheaper and I bill them. It doesn't happen often, a few times a year, maybe. But most people understand and pay the cancellation fee. If they don't pay at the first invoice, I drop it.

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I keep forgetting to update this. I got a call earlier in the week from the mortgage broker, who had spoken to the clients and was also not happy. She says the closing is postponed indefinitely, until the clients get the inspection they want and all resulting issues are settled. Looks like the realtors' move....

Brian G.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

I keep forgetting to update this. I got a call earlier in the week from the mortgage broker, who had spoken to the clients and was also not happy. She says the closing is postponed indefinitely, until the clients get the inspection they want and all resulting issues are settled. Looks like the realtors' move....

Brian G.

For some reason, I just start to salivate in situations like this.

Does that make me a bad person?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Originally posted by Brian G.

I keep forgetting to update this. I got a call earlier in the week from the mortgage broker, who had spoken to the clients and was also not happy. She says the closing is postponed indefinitely, until the clients get the inspection they want and all resulting issues are settled. Looks like the realtors' move....

Brian G.

For some reason, I just start to salivate in situations like this.

Does that make me a bad person?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

No. Well, maybe....

My interest level went up too, although the Pavlovian response was different. I think of the sword of Damocles, only in this case, I'm kinda hopin' the horsehair breaks.

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