“Greg, this is Timothy. You did an inspection for me last week in Livingston.”
“Ah, yes. I remember that. Hi, Timothy.”
“Well, we didn’t buy that house. After your inspection, we negotiated money off and then I went to walk through the home over the weekend. The rooms were much smaller than the pictures made them look – like they took the pictures to make the rooms look bigger. After walking back through, I decided it would take more money than what I negotiated with the sellers. We tried to renegotiate, but the sellers didn’t want to budge. So, we terminated the contract.”
“You couldn’t come to an amount you felt comfortable with,” I asked.
“Right. Well I just wanted to say thank you for your inspection. Your thorough report helped me negotiate.”
“Timothy,” I said, “I’m glad to hear you feel we did our job properly.”
“You did,” he responded. “You know, my Realtor said you were picky. My Realtor also said that the listing agent said that the last five contracts he’s had as a listing agent have been cancelled – that you inspected.”
There was a pause.
“I told my Realtor – Good, you know that means he did his job for the buyer, his client. My Realtor agreed.”
“Timothy, that’s interesting to hear. That listing agency doesn’t recommend us to clients because they think we’re too picky. We haven’t done business with them for the last year or so.”
“Isn’t that your job?,” he asked.
“Well, being picky isn’t my job. But, representing the interests of my client to the best of my ability is – and that means documenting everything and taking the time to fully explain the context of what’s documented.”
“You are hired by the buyer,” Timothy added.
“Exactly. Unfortunately, our region suffers from the assumption that home inspectors should be helping real estate agents close a sale.” I paused, to make sure I wasn’t running off on a tangent. “My job isn’t to help sell a home. My job is to help my clients assess whether the money they are offering for a structure is worthy of the value of their investment. Money has value and someone needs to remind consumers of that value.”
“I was happy with your services.”
“Well, Timothy, you know, I’ve never had a client call me and gripe because I gave them the information and context they needed to determine the home was not right for them. It’s always Realtors, or I hear about it from another agent.” I took a breath. “It is my assumption that the function of a real estate agent also is to protect their client and client’s interest. Unfortunately, there appears to be a very small segment of agents that would meet that threshold. Most just want to make a sale and get to closing.”
“Yeah, I can see that, Greg. We’re looking at another home and I wanted to run a few concerns by you and just let you know. I’m hoping, if we get a contract on it, you can do it this weekend, or next week.”
The Takeaway -- Fiduciary Care
This conversation is a VERY frequent talk I have with clients – most of the time they are buyers, but sometimes sellers, too (we get hired for pre-listing inspections from time to time). They usually tell me, either at the beginning or end, of something their agent said that joins me and the concept of pickiness in the same sentence. I do my best to keep in my lane, but this scenario is pervasive in the home inspection industry. It doesn’t help that some of my fellow inspection professionals simply want to make money and be a buddy for agents.
We at WIN Home Inspection Cookeville have spent 21 years building a reputation of integrity and professionalism. We charge a higher price than some of these same fellow professionals – a price that comes with a guarantee and promise to fully represent the truth of a structure in order to best protect our clients' money -- the value of their potential investment.
Real Estate professionals would do well to consider and more properly execute on the same concept – it’s time home buyers and sellers are protected at an appropriate level, one similar to the fiduciary responsibility of a financial adviser (read, client interests first). After all, isn’t the most common refrain in the real estate industry – “… one of the biggest investments of your life” ?