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I was told not to talk to the clients, just report


sepefrio
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As I replied in another thread, today I had a bit of fun today. But a little background.

I arrive at the inspection and the only one there is the one of the "Team" members, not the agent who set up the appointment. I was told the buyers were out of town and would not make it.

Well I start the inspection and finished the exterior. When I went inside, I saw a second lady there. I thought maybe she was the listing agent, but no, she is the buyer. Cool I thought, no need to mail reports/contracts. So I did my contract brief and got everything signed. At the end I asked if she had any concerns or special questions she wanted answered. She said "Yes, I used to own a home in some wetlands and the foundation here worries me". Well I told her about some of the things I had found so far (all the cracks) and that I was looking more into it. I also told her if there is foundation damage, I may not be able to see the damage itself, just signs of it and a more destructive inspection by Bob the engineer may be needed.

Well I guess the agent sent to watch the inspection got scared and called her boss. About 45m later, he arrives and comes looking for me. He goes into the a rant about me scaring his clients about foundation, mold and termite damage. I was like what? The ONLY thing I said about mold or termites was my disclaimer, I hadn't seen any signs of either so far. As for the foundation, I had answered the clients question, period. He told me to just do the inspection and not talk to the clients anymore. I was just to write the report and submit it. He also said he called a buddy of his who said it was probably all good and if anything it was the footing and not the foundation. All that based on what this agent told him on the phone, lol.

Anyways, here are the pictures of what I saw.

Couple of notes, like I said, all the cracking had been caulked up and painted. If you can't see the cracks in the picture look for tha caulk. If you still can't let me know I'll highlight them too. I did highlight a few I thought were hard to see.

Also, on the inside, there were a tremendous amount of drywall seem cracks and what looked like Spackle patches in the top and or bottom corners of windows and doors. The entire interior was freshly painted (except ceiling) but these patches were clear.

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In the attics, you can see the web pulling away from the gusset plate. You can see where it was, the scraping and where it is now. About 1/3 of them (all same web) were like this.

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This is the house.

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Hi,

Well, I think it's time for a call to the agent's broker to discuss how the agent is trying to control what you say to your clients. Point out that you don't tell agents how to sell real estate and ask what business his agent has telling you how to inspect homes and present those issues to your clients.

Isn't Virginia a home inspector license or registration state? If so, I'd also pick up the phone and call whoever is in charge of home inspectors so that they can call whoever is in charge of real estate licensees and have a chat with them.

That said, maybe it's just me, or maybe I'm not seeing it clearly enough in the photos, but I don't see a whole lot with that veneer that I'd be too concerned with. Compared to some of the veneer I see, that cracking is so minor as to be negligible. Was there anything at all, besides expansion and contraction cracks in the structure to indicate any major movement such as a settled slab or foundation? Are the damaged trusses due to foundation movement or did someone top-load the bottom chords with a bunch of stored property?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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That's just it, I can't see the foundation at all. The owner even covered the garage floor with linoleum (the bathrooms had carpeting wall to wall). And no, one by itself or a few are not a big concern. My big concern is that the cracks can be found everywhere. Those are only about half the cracks. After a while I just stopped taking pictures. No evident bowing of the exterior. All the doors and windows did open and close properly, no binding. No extra load on the truss that I saw either. I am more concerned about what I can't see instead of what I actually see. There has been so much cosmetic repair (caulk, Spackle and paint) to the home that I'm convinced there are more hidden problems. All the cracks, interior and exterior can be explained separately or it could also be one big thing. The one area that concerns me the most, is the front right. All the cracks there point in the direction of that corner of the house settling. Again could just be random or the corner is settling. The rest I could not put a real pattern to them.

Maybe because the client told me she "had a home in the wetlands with a bad foundation" and that she is a lawyer has me thinking a little extra, lol.

As for this agent, my first decision is what do I do about Thursday. I have another inspection with him then.

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The client's a lawyer?

Maybe it's time to call the client and express how just upset you are by being upbraided by the client's agent for telling the client what you're being paid to tell the client. Make sure the client understands that you're fully aware that your referral business will probably take a hit for revealing that to the client. Bet you'll get plenty of referral business from the client in the future. Hell, over the past four years I'll bet I've done at least 30 jobs for attorneys in a single downtown law firm where I'd tipped off a lawyer client that an agent was being way too agressive with me and was trying to tailor what I said about the home. I haven't even kept track of how many jobs I've done for friends and relatives of those attorneys.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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If you work for the buyer, what right does an RE have to govern what you do?

I usually pull the client aside in private at the beginning of the inspection. I inform them of their right to confidentiality and let them make the call on how, if, or to whom I convey anything during the inspection.

I am polite and respectful towards RE's but I don't really care what they think. I've learned how to stay in charge and on top of things. I could care less if they ever refer me.

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" I am more concerned about what I can't see instead of what I actually see. There has been so much cosmetic repair (caulk, Spackle and paint) to the home that I'm convinced there are more hidden problems."

I think that you should use the above in your narrative, verbatum. Pretty much says what needs to be said.

As for the RE with the brass cajones, I would politely pull him aside at your next inspection and ask him not to speak to your client because he may scare them.

Tom

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Um, wanna add a twist to the story. I have just been informed that I will be paid by the agent who spoke to me, not the client. The contract is signed by the buyer, but the check is now coming from this agent.

As for how did I respond? Besides imagining his face on a target as I played with my M-4, I did not respond to him. I know my hot temper and felt it better to keep it under control and the situation under control as well. I told him I knew what he was saying, and just turned and resumed the inspection again. It took him a minute or two to realize I was not going to talk or confront him so he then just left the property.

As for the property, the above aside, it's actually in VERY good shape with an awesome pool and waterfall/garden area. The biggest concern after the above was the effect the pool's solar panel feed lines were having on the roof. They crossed a small flat valley and were creating a damming effect with the pine needles and other stuff and creating a ponding effect. But as soon as I removed some of the debris, the water drained right off.

But considering the above pictures and my "gut" feeling something is affot, how would you write it up and would you recommend Bob the engineer?

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Lots of patched cracks certainly raises some red flags, especially if you think the patches are recent. OTOH with older houses I expect to see some signs of movement. It all boils down to what you are accustomed to seeing in your area for that type of construction. I wish I could be more definitive for you, but I've found that trying to diagnose structural issues based only on internet photos is a lot like asking a doctor to diagnose a heart murmur by putting the phone up to your chest. There's just not enough information without being there and seeing things first-hand.

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The way it happened, was a bit odd. It would have been nice to know who you were working for before yo started. Not that it would make a difference in the report, but just like (I), don't discuss the inspection/report with anyone but the client, unless asked to. In this case the client is the agent. I imagine is thier property.

What I hate doing is discussing with the seller. Yikes!!!

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Steven, um no (I think), my ORIGINAL client, and the person the contract is made out to and signed by is the potential buyer. But I was now told, the agent will actually pay me as he is taking care of it for the client. So by contract, the buyer is my client, the agent is just paying me right?

What I am going to do is, when I finish writing the report, I will call the buyer and talk to them, tell them what happened and ask then to pay me directly.

As for the diagnosis, lol, that is a good example and I know what ya mean. The thing, I don't have HARD evidence of major problems. I have a gut feeling of it with a bunch of small things. Sure it could have just been handy homeowner sealing the cracks so that water didn't get it. But it could also mean there is more I didn't see because of cosmetic repairs.

I also know for a fact, if I call out my feeling, he will just get his "contractor buddy" who diagnosed it over the phone to him before to come in and say no problems. Yes I would be off the hook, but my clients wouldn't. I think I owe it to them to protect them a little, nay, a lot.

For right now, I think I am going to write it all up as separate events, but then do one summary comment and recommend an engineer.

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In this case the client is the agent. I imagine is thier property.

I can't agree with that. If it's a house for sale and the report is being prepared so that a buyer can decide whether the buyer wants to purchase the house or not, the client is the buyer regardless of who is paying for the inspection. To assume anything else just puts one between the rock and the hard place.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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In this case the client is the agent. I imagine is thier property.

I can't agree with that. If it's a house for sale and the report is being prepared so that a buyer can decide whether the buyer wants to purchase the house or not, the client is the buyer regardless of who is paying for the inspection. To assume anything else just puts one between the rock and the hard place.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

I agree 100% Mike. The buyer is my client. Thanks.

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In this case the client is the agent. I imagine is thier property.

I can't agree with that. If it's a house for sale and the report is being prepared so that a buyer can decide whether the buyer wants to purchase the house or not, the client is the buyer regardless of who is paying for the inspection. To assume anything else just puts one between the rock and the hard place.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

I agree 100% Mike. The buyer is my client. Thanks.

It's ok to disagree.

So if a seller hires a HI do do a pre sale inspection, and wants the information for his personal use, and tells you not to discuss it with anyone... does he not have the right. Or are you stating that if a buyer shows up, you should share his information with the buyer.

My thing is that the report should be the same regardless of who it is for.

Now if a HI is being hired on behalf of someone, then I agree that the person should have full access to the inspector. Whoever tells you not to speak to them is a knucklehead.

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Steven, um no (I think), my ORIGINAL client, and the person the contract is made out to and signed by is the potential buyer. But I was now told, the agent will actually pay me as he is taking care of it for the client. So by contract, the buyer is my client, the agent is just paying me right?

What I am going to do is, when I finish writing the report, I will call the buyer and talk to them, tell them what happened and ask then to pay me directly.

As for the diagnosis, lol, that is a good example and I know what ya mean. The thing, I don't have HARD evidence of major problems. I have a gut feeling of it with a bunch of small things. Sure it could have just been handy homeowner sealing the cracks so that water didn't get it. But it could also mean there is more I didn't see because of cosmetic repairs.

I also know for a fact, if I call out my feeling, he will just get his "contractor buddy" who diagnosed it over the phone to him before to come in and say no problems. Yes I would be off the hook, but my clients wouldn't. I think I owe it to them to protect them a little, nay, a lot.

For right now, I think I am going to write it all up as separate events, but then do one summary comment and recommend an engineer.

Frank, Hmm, Perhaps I misread, But I thought I read that the agent was the client.

As far as the diagnosis, I agree with you on that too. As a matter of fact, when I flipped through the pictures, I felt, although most of the cracks were minor, the fact that there were so many became a concern. I agree there is a footing/foundation problem.

I don't agree with you about not having hard evidence. Hell, I just looked at pictures of hard evidence. Unless this guy's buddy tries to spew that "cracks are supposed to be there." The cracks are there. My question is, are they going to get worse?

I don't understand the part about his buddy letting you off the hook. What hook? It is your our responsibility to tell is like it is, to the best of your our ability, and with integrity. How does somebody making a lame excuse, relieve you of any responsibility?

Now if his buddy is a licenced engineer, and gives you something in writing... well, thats a different story.

As far as the other guy, don't get so riled. Laugh at the putz, and do what you do.

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Can we agree that whoever signs the contract/agreement is the client? The payment source is not the deciding factor.

I have gotten payments via pay pal for inspections. In reality, I have no idea where the money is coming from.

Just like the fact that I can deposit money into any bank account. They don't care who the source is when its going in.

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He also said he called a buddy of his who said it was probably all good and if anything it was the footing and not the foundation.

Oooooohh, it's only the footing that's a problem, not the foundation.

Other than the thing that's holding up the house, it's all good........

I might've just begged off the whole job; they all sound nuts.

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This was not my first inspection for him (3rd actually) and I'm the sucker type I guess. I usually give people one chance if it doesn't mess me over big time. And a simple inspection fee, to me, yes is a loss, but not worth being a jerk. Now, like I said before, I have another inspection set up with him on Thursday. If I'm not paid by then (for both), I'm not inspecting.

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No disrespect meant to anyone here but, why would you set one foot into a house, without a signed contract and a check or a stack of dead president's pictures in your hand?

Yes. I often will start an inspection prior to my client showing up. Once they show up, I talk them through the contract and have them read/ sign it while I am working. I don't typically get paid until the end of the inspection, but do require payment on- site.

I know getting the agreement to a client prior to the inspection is best, but this happens less than half of the time for various reasons. I have never had a problem with this, and have never been stiffed for payment (knock on Benjamins)

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No disrespect meant to anyone here but, why would you set one foot into a house, without a signed contract and a check or a stack of dead president's pictures in your hand?

That's EXACTLY what I was thinking while reading this thread.

If it's the third inspection then the client should know enough to have the check ready for you. I can honestly say I've never left the inspection without money in my hand.

Now, if you submit the report like you want to submit it, the zoid's gonna bone you.

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No disrespect meant to anyone here but, why would you set one foot into a house, without a signed contract and a check or a stack of dead president's pictures in your hand?

That's EXACTLY what I was thinking while reading this thread.

If it's the third inspection then the client should know enough to have the check ready for you. I can honestly say I've never left the inspection without money in my hand.

Now, if you submit the report like you want to submit it, the zoid's gonna bone you.

If I get boned, trust me, I won't be nice. This agent happens to use blogs and facebook and such quite a bit. Won't be hard to encourage him to pay me.

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