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Barry Stone: Agent disregarded home inspection
By Barry Stone
Inspector s in the House
Posted: 08/02/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Q: When I bought my home, my Realtor arranged for a home inspection. She had me write a
check to the inspector but didn't tell me when the inspection was to take place. So I missed
the chance to attend. To make matters worse, the home inspector never gave me or my
Realtor a report. I asked repeatedly for a report, but the agent put me off with some excuse
about the inspector having marital problems. Finally, it was time to close escrow and she
convinced me to let the inspection go and just buy the house. After moving in, I kept finding
problems, like leaky plumbing and outlets that didn't work. So I hired another home inspector.
He found a long list of problems, including a damaged foundation. I've tried complaining to my
agent about all of this, but she doesn't return my calls. What should I do?
A: Any Realtor can make a professional mistake, but your agent seems to have gotten it
wrong on every count: Choosing an unqualified home inspector, leaving you out of the
inspection process, dismissing your concerns about the home inspection report, allowing the
deal to close without full disclosure and ignoring your concerns. A Realtor who treats clients
with such callous disregard, with so little concern for professional ethics, should not be
allowed to practice real estate.
A good agent would have recommended a competent, reliable home inspector with a proven
track record of dependable performance. A good agent would have arranged for you to
attend the home inspection and receive an oral review of the inspector's findings. A good
agent would have made sure that you received the report and would not have ignored the
inspector's failure to produce one.
When no report was forthcoming, a good agent would have arranged for another home
inspection and would have demanded a refund. Above all, a good agent would never suggest
that a client close escrow without full disclosure of defects. And a good agent would not fail to
return phone calls from a concerned client.
Your mistake was not taking a stronger stand with your agent. You should not have allowed
the deal to close when your concerns were being ignored. You had every right to receive a
home inspection report, and it was the duty of your agent to represent your interests in that
regard. When your requests for that report were not honored, it was time to stop the deal, to
insist on another home inspection, and to demand another Realtor to represent you.
Now that the proverbial milk is spilled, it is time to assess the damages and address the
issues. You'll need estimates from reputable, licensed contractors to repair the defects in
your home. If your agent won't communicate with you directly, have an attorney forward those
estimates, with a cover letter that will give her some sleepless nights. You should also file a
complaint with the state agency that licenses real estate agents.
As for the home inspector who accepted payment without providing a report, he should tender
a full refund or explain "why not" to a small claims judge.
Barry Stone is a certified building inspector and nationally syndicated columnist based in San
Note from Inspector Homes LLC / Wayne Blackburn
Have you had something similar happen to you? Tell me your story, and I might just offer to
evaluate your home for free, or publish your story on this website. Your story may help
someone else. I firmly believe consumer education is the best tool to help safeguard others.
Please include your name, inspection address, problems encountered, outcome, and all the
details you are willing to share. I will assure discretion.