Jump to content

Barry Stone On Inspector Competence & Scruples


hausdok
 Share

Recommended Posts

Q. Before we bought our home, we hired a home inspector, but he didn't report any of the major problems in the house. Now we have to repair the plumbing, the electrical wiring, and the roof. When he did the inspection, he said everything was OK, but he was just lying, and we think he may have gotten a big tip from the seller or the agent. He was supposed to be working for us. Why would a home inspector do business this way?

A. To assume that a home inspector took a bribe is a big jump.

The read more of Stone's response in the Chicago Daily Herald, click here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Q. Before we bought our home, we hired a home inspector, but he didn't report any of the major problems in the house. Now we have to repair the plumbing, the electrical wiring, and the roof. When he did the inspection, he said everything was OK, but he was just lying, and we think he may have gotten a big tip from the seller or the agent. He was supposed to be working for us. Why would a home inspector do business this way?

A. To assume that a home inspector took a bribe is a big jump.

The read more of Stone's response in the Chicago Daily Herald, click here.

Here's a tidbit from Stone's answer (my bold): "When home inspectors fail to report defects, the problem is usually professional incompetence, not willful collusion with sellers or agents."

Sounds like opinion stated as fact, which is a form of incompetence. How would Barry Stone know that HI incompetence is more common that HI dishonesty? Wonder if he ever read the court report on Herner vs. HouseMaster...

WJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What amazes me, is how do these guys keep from getting sued out of business?

We've all missed things, and we've all taken the heat for it. But for most of us, we don't miss things because we aren't looking and aren't working our asses off for our clients.

These hour-and-a-half guys . . . maybe they understand something I don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These hour-and-a-half guys . . . maybe they understand something I don't.

My guess: They understand that the vast majority of Realtor's love them and will refer them..... It's a lot easier to get a commission when everything goes smoothly with the inspection. By smoothly I mean that nothing important gets written up.

The majority of people probably don't file complaints when something is missed. Of the ones that do complain, many of those likely just take the inspection fee back for compensation, thinking that is their only option. Even if the inspectors get one complaint filed per week, they make more money (especially per hour) than the "deal killers".

One of these days, people will realize that it's in their best interest to find an inspector on their own rather than rely on real estate folks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

Brandon hit it right on the head. Back when I was a franchisee we had a guy who came onto the franchise intranet forum one time and told folks about how he was hiring a second guy 'cuz he was averaging 5-6 inspections a day on his own and couldn't keep up with his business. Well, some of the guys, including me, nuked him pretty hard but he didn't seem to care.

He had been a marketing guru for Dairy Queen for 25 years or so before he'd gotten into the home inspection business. He had no experience in construction at all when he got into the business but he was a whiz at going into reel tour offices, putting on talks, and schmoozing them for their business. He was very careful to cultivate the idea in the minds of all reel tours that he considered them his clients too and that they didn't have to worry about him killing their deals. That was the marketing line that the franchise taught but for most of us it didn't sit very well and we weren't very good at marketing at all; not this guy - he was a whiz at it.

When asked whether he was concerned about liability, he answered that stats showed that only 1% of inspections ever resulted in an actual lawsuit and that he was making enough that it was easier for him to give someone a refund or reach a case settlement with them for a few thousand than to worry about whether or not he would get sued.

Once, I was inspecting a house in what is his marketing area and the owner left a report of his out in the open on a table. I assumed that the homeowner wanted me to see it or he wouldn't have left it out like that, so I perused it. It was full of the stock boilerplate that came with the franchise's program and some of it was so wrong that it was silly. For instance; there was one comment in the report about how there were some shelves built into the walls of the crawlspace that were rotting and should be removed (stock boilerplate comment) - the problem was that the crawl was barely 2ft. deep and half of the barrier was under water and there weren't any shelves anywhere.

Another time, right after I sold my franchise and while I was doing light contract work in Seattle while I waited out the non-compete period, I was asked to check out some water stains on the ceiling of a house and figure out why water was leaking into a basement. Well, the water stains were from a rooftop deck with leaking windows and no flashings at the perimeter that was leaking into the house (I got about a weeks worth of work out of that) and in the basement the water running across the floor was coming from the crawlspace and was due to improper exterior drainage and leaking downspout receivers (Fixed it in a few hours.).

When I asked the owner if he'd had an inspection he said that he had and he named this same guy. Worse, he said that they'd found all sorts of problems right after moving into the home and had called this guy and he's spent two weeks dinking around their house repairing stuff that they'd found wrong. In the end, they said that they just quit calling him 'cuz it was clear to them that he'd been incompetent and they didn't want to get mixed up in any lawsuits or anything ugly like that.

As far as I know, he's still inspecting the same way and his attitude hasn't changed 10 years later.

Yesterday I had lunch with a 20-year inspector who told me that he might have to pull the plug soon and go on social security; yet, there are $200 (any size home) guys running around here doing inspections in 1-1/2 to 2 hours that can't keep up with all of the work that's being referred to them.

Until consumers realize how stupid it is to always go with the guy referred by their reel tour, or they realize that hiring the cheapest guy around it liable to eventually cost them the price of a Lexus in missed stuff, things aren't liable to change very soon.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, but still . . . it's frustrating. I've lost three gigs this week 'cause the people thought I was too expensive. The conversations went well till I told them what my fees were. The cliched pregnant pauses that followed told me immediately that they were gonna seek elsewhere.

Then again, tomorrow and Friday, I'm checking out a 10,000 sq. ft. house for friends of a former client, who also bought an expensive house. The question of how much I was going to charge never came up. The buyers trust their friend's recommendation and my reputation, and they'll pay my fee, whatever it may be.

I dunno. It's a little confusing at times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm halfway through a book called Freakonomics. It's an excellent biopsy about how and why our society works... the real (at the very least, thought provoking suggestions) reasons behind why people do what they do. The book discusses hard to diagnose issues and one of the first topics is: " is the realtor really working for the buyer?" The authors then then explain the facts: the realtor has almost no incentive to try and get top dollar for their client and then they go on to statistically prove that realtor owned properties sell for 3-5% more than the properties owned by their clients.

It's economic theory applied to society. I like numbers, statistics and logic. They eliminate wishy-washy opinions and present themselves with a refreshing clarity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What amazes me, is how do these guys keep from getting sued out of business?

Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming. It's almost always cheaper to fix problems out of one's own pocket than to hire counsel and go to court.
We've all missed things, and we've all taken the heat for it. But for most of us, we don't miss things because we aren't looking and aren't working our asses off for our clients.
Just my humble observation, but neither customers nor RE agents nor builders know if the HI missed something. Also, in my humble experience, most HIs I've run across don't know they missed anything, either. They just fill in the blanks on a checklist or punch up nonsensical boilerplate that came with the inspecting software. It's an education issue. Judging from the standard-of-care cases I've been involved in, the errant HI has the intellectual firepower of a low-functioning middle-schooler. A while back, during one of my cases, the HI/defendant was brought into the courtroom in chains, straight from the drunk tank. I am not making this up... Most of these guys would be lucky to get jobs as menial laborers.
These hour-and-a-half guys . . . maybe they understand something I don't.
They benefit from what they don't understand...

WJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What more can be done to educate the consumers?

Check this out: http://www.gaylesbiantimes.com/?id=14082

Not the article, but "Jeff's" comment at the end about referrals.

Ignore the next comment. The writing indicates he might not have made it to 6th grade.

You mean the proud-to-be-NY-licensed low-functioning home inspector who contributed this?

"May time we are referred to as the deal breaker because the house will speak for itself and even after closing we can still be sued for things we missed."

More proof that there's little or no quality control in the HI biz...

Where do we get such men,

WJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...