GENUINE BUYER AGENT SHOULD KNOW HOUSES

By
Home Inspector with National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC

Time and time again, I have performed home inspections on horrid homes where the purchaser was represented by a reported Buyer Agent.   What I don't understand is that often, the obvious dreadful defects I report come as a complete surprise to the Buyer Agent and my client.

Mt question is a how can a real estate agent represent themselves as a Buyer Agent and not have any expertise in recognizing the condition of the home?  

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) standards of practice state in part that "the Buyer Agent will discuss and evaluate the properties viewed with his/her Buyer-Client, comparing each property shown with the target property profile".  How does the Buyer Agent evaluate the home without specific training?

We all are aware that there are numerous real estate sales agent designations that can be earned.  Shouldn't there be required training courses for Buyer Agents to help recognize the visible major defects found in a home?

Most automobile sales people are trained on the cars they are selling.  But I have met with Buyer Agents that know next to nothing about houses.  Importantly, it must also be stated that I have met several accomplished Buyer Agents that are very knowledgeable in every aspect of their profession.

I suggest that the real estate industry education providers develop substantial training courses regarding home construction and the visible major flaws for its professionals.  The proper designation can then separate the imposters from the genuine Buyer Agent.   The professional Buyer Agent Associations should also require certain minimum education requirements to establish credibility.

The end result will increase the level of confidence in real estate Buyer Agent, in addition to saving valuable resources reviewing and inspecting homes that may never make it to closing.

Glen Fisher southjerseynpi@aol.com                                                                                                                    

"The South Jersey Home Inspector"

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Rainmaker
73,534
Glen Fisher
National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC - Oaklyn, NJ

Okay, let me try again.  When I started home inspections in 1989, I don't believe the Buyer Agent had yet to be invented.  However, I did not research this and criticize me if I am incorrect. 

In fact, most real estate agents did not recommend home inspections in 1989 and I was told that the sales agent would simply look the house over for the buyer.   It should also be noted that when I marketed home inspections early on, in more than one real estate office I was informed that no buyer had ever requested a home inspection.  It was further stated, that there was no need for that type of service. 

In the last five to ten years, the Buyer Agent has been created.  My concern is that certain Buyer Agents will apparently not even consider looking the house over as we have plenty of home inspectors to shoulder that liability. 

I have inspected a house where the rear exterior basement foundation wall had sunken almost six inches leaving a giant gap under the siding.  The Buyer Agent and buyer never saw this because nobody walked the rear of the house.  However, at the time of the home inspection when both parties saw the rear of the property they understood that the foundation had a major defect.  Shouldn't the Buyer Agent be expected to fully walk and view the house?

I know a Buyer Agent that does not do steps and will not view the basement or second floor.  Is that okay?  I am not sure.

In today's market there are considerable first time buyers that have never owned a home.  Ninety-nine percent of the agents should have a higher level of expertise.  Nowhere in my post do I suggest that any sales agent undertake a home inspection.  That is the last thing anybody wants. 

My bottom line is the level of inconsistency that I have observed from Buyer Agents is tremendous.  Many provide good advice, excellent guidance and are not afraid to look at a house.  A few others unfortunately are clueless and have nothing better to offer than unlocking the door. 

Why not have courses for Buyer Agents to increase knowledge of houses and house defects.  Is that so wrong?

If I was a consumer searching for a Buyer Agent, I would look for an agent that "knows houses".   In addition, I would also want an agent that is my advocate and will efficiently guide me to the objective.  But then again that is just my opinion.

Mar 11, 2009 10:48 PM #63
Rainmaker
1,456,492
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I remember kinda sorta when "buyers agents" were invented in my market....  I also remember when "home inspectors" were inventFrankenstein's monster a great inventioned. 

I wrote about it... not what I remember personally about the invention of "buyers agent" because when buyers agency became common in my market and what it means in my state really is probably not that great a conversation...

Personally I think on the job training is the best way for most agents to learn about "condition."   

Mar 12, 2009 12:23 AM #64
Rainmaker
425,915
Ernie Steele
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty - Lebanon, PA
Lebanon, PA Real Estate 717-273-3774

Glen...Sorry, but you're not going to win this argument...We as Realtors/Agents cannot express more than an opinion about a problem...Simply put, it's not our job, it's yours...Do it and get paid for it!

Mar 12, 2009 01:42 PM #65
Rainmaker
84,405
Paul Howard
Paul Howard, Broker, NJHomeBuyer.com Realty 856-488-8444 - Cherry Hill, NJ
NJHomeBuyer.com Realty, 856-488-8444

Glen, I guess being right doesn't always let you win.  Pity.

I skimmed through the posts but could have stopped at the first two comments.

Kevin Cavanaugh commented first and got it right on. Then Lenn Harley got it wrong.

Kevin uses the knowledge he has to help buyers avoid homes with defects that he can identify and he has indicated that he has the background to be able to do that.

Lynn on the other hand says:  "We are not home inspectors.  I thought that was your job." The reason she says that is because she does not have the knowledge to do the job that Kevin can do and she  defends that lack of knowledge by saying it is not her job.  

If I were a buyer choosing between Kevin and Lynn - I'd go with Kevin every single time.  

It is true that most agents that 'claim' to be buyer agents don't have the knowledge to identify defects that should be obvious to anyone with even minimal knowledge.  The sad fact is that most Realtors (let alone those that call themselves buyer agents) know very little about the make up of a house.  It is even sadder that most have no inclination to learn.  

Kevin, I hope you include your knowledge of construction in your marketing - as well as a disclaimer.  My disclaimer goes along the lines of:  If I find 5 defects your home inspector will likely find at least 20 more.

Although I will sometimes say positive things about a house they have to be very obvious. Making unconditional statement like: "The basement seems dry to me.", is just asking for trouble.  I may say, this basement has recently had a french drain installed but I bet they didn't fix the grading outside that is possibly a part of the problem they are trying to fix. 

Go ahead, Lynn, keep getting your clients into contracts only to let them spend a few hundred dollars learning something that a KNOWLEDGEABLE buyer agent should have been able to tell them up front.  

Paul Howard

Mar 13, 2009 12:05 AM #66
Rainmaker
1,456,492
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Lynn who? 

Mar 13, 2009 12:09 AM #67
Rainmaker
189,514
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Im with Maureen on this one...Lynn who??

Mar 13, 2009 12:16 AM #68
Rainmaker
160,500
Retired Notworking
Tallahassee, FL

In FL, sellers are required to complete a seller's disclosure that tells everything that they are aware of that is wrong with the house and repairs and renovations they have completed during their ownership.  This should alert buyers to any flaws, obvious and otherwise.  It also should cover the age of roof, HVAC, appliances, etc. 

Since we are in fact a very litigious society, agents need to be careful about giving advice and opinions, especially in areas in which they are not experts.  I personally like to be informed and understand at least the basics of construction, but don't think the buyer should proceed with a sale based on an agent's opinion of the condition of a property.

Mar 13, 2009 01:22 AM #69
Rainmaker
223,921
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO

I don't think that a buyer needs to hear, "but I bet they didn't fix the grading outside..." without a caveat: "here's an opinion, but as I'm not an expert, this MUST be addressed by a home inspector." Buyers don't care what we might "bet"- and neither do their lawyers- without the input of someone who specializes in home inspection issues, any words that might be offered are empty (and subject to litigation). A knowledgable buyers agent understands that the obligation to the buyer is to provide the most comprehensive info on their property of interest- no ego thing ("I'm so smart- here's what I BET")- leave areas of specialization to the specialists. Real estate isn't a guessing game.

Mar 13, 2009 01:29 AM #70
Rainer
267,474
South Austin Real Estate Blog
Sky Realty South Austin - Austin, TX

The proper designation can then separate the imposters from the genuine Buyer Agent.   The professional Buyer Agent Associations should also require certain minimum education requirements to establish credibility.

This is an interesting observation from an Inspector since  the Instructor at a local board of realtors MCE Legal Class class said.. in the matter of  attending an inspection to NOT EVEN BE AT THE INSPECTION.  IT IS NOT OUR JOB to determine CONDITION of a PROPERTY.

Mar 13, 2009 03:49 AM #71
Rainmaker
259,003
Melina Tomson
Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon - Salem, OR
Principal Broker/Owner, M.S.

Paul I agree that agents should have training on some basic red flags. In fact it is one of our continuing education classes in Oregon

I find it highly concerning that you would tell a buyer "I'll bet..."  I would never tell a buyer that if I see 5 defects that the home inspector will likely find 20. It may be true it may not be. Everything is in how you say it.

In Oregon home inspectors are licensed contractors.  They are bonded and insured.  If you wanted to give home inspection advice in Oregon, you might find yourself talking to the CCB about being unlicensed.

All homes have defects and it is our job to point out the obvious ones to buyers before offers, and for the home inspectors to note everything after.  The point of a home inspection is not to find a defect free home, but for buyers to satisfy themselves with the defects that do exist.

 

Mar 13, 2009 11:45 AM #72
Rainmaker
1,066,035
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

The only good thing about this perspective is that it inspired perspective about agency, responsibility and the flexing of finger tips, which is why it was probably featured.

You know..

Inspectors like to tell the buyers how "to deal with repairs" as in negotiate.

That's OUR job.

Nice argument, but you have no case.

Mar 13, 2009 01:51 PM #73
Rainmaker
1,456,492
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate
Melina said  "Paul I agree that agents should have training on some basic red flags. In fact it is one of our continuing education classes in Oregon"

As a required course? We were not required to get anything about construction, red flags, condition, defects  when I was newly licensed and I don't think there is anything required for new agents in OH now.  There are opportunities!!!  There are always opportunities.  

Our home inspectors are not licensed in our state.  It failed again in 2008....
Mar 13, 2009 11:26 PM #74
Rainmaker
677,943
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Melina Said;

"The point of a home inspection is not to find a defect free home, but for buyers to satisfy themselves with the defects that do exist."

I think that is perfectly said. Home inspectors are there to educate and inform the buyer. They then can decide if they are willing to accept the condition of the home and move forward with the purchase or keeping looking for houses.

Mar 14, 2009 02:21 AM #75
Rainmaker
73,000
Jon Boyd
Home Buyer's Agent of Ann Arbor - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Real Estate Buyers Agent

 

So how about this:

Should a buyer's rep be able to tell a buyer if a home has hot water heat or forced air heat?

Should the same buyer's rep be able to tell a buyer what some of the differences are in terms of quality of living?

Should a buyer's rep. be able to tell a buyer if a roof valley is showing a lot of wear or if the shingles are curled?

Lets give some examples and our views on earch.

And to be correct lets use the term "buyer's rep.", because in many markets licensees are no longer acting as buyer's agents. (In our market most are designated buyer's agents, not buyer's agents.)

 

Mar 19, 2009 03:52 AM #76
Rainmaker
126,342
Debbie Hutchins
International, IT

Ha ha, maybe you should sit in on a Buyer Agency class and learn the meaning of "Buyers Agent" genuine of not.  Realtors are licensed to sell real estate, Inspectors are licensed to inspect.  I am a Realtor.  I do not claim to be an Accountant, Attorney or Inspector.  As a Buyers Agent I help my client to locate the home that suites their needs and put them together with the proper trained professionals to represent them completely and fulfill my fiduciary duty to the best of my ability.  If my client has a concern that I do not know the answer to I help them to find it. 

And if the house that they want to buy appears to be absolutely perfect, I still recommend that they get a home inspection to be sure of what they are purchasing.  I would imagine that the Home Inspectors would not be near as busy as they are if the Realtors weren't out there making these recommendations.

And of course there is also Limited Consentual Dual Agency, Sub Agency and Transaction Broker.  Are you always sure that it is a "Buyers Agent"?

Soooo, Glen...it truly is so nice to meet you! :-)  Welcome to the Rain! 

Would you like to come down to Sweet Home Alabama and do an inspection for one of my clients? :O)

You are gonna do just fine here!  Look how quickly you got a Feature!  It took me 101 posts to get one!

Mar 19, 2009 03:46 PM #77
Rainmaker
73,000
Jon Boyd
Home Buyer's Agent of Ann Arbor - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Real Estate Buyers Agent

Debbie,

In our market almost half of buyers start with designated buyer agency, then they get the "switch" to disclosed dual agency.

Do you think that they are disclosed about that probability up-front?

Obviously not, or they wouldn't do it.

So to answer your question. Most in our market are not buyer's agents.

Mar 30, 2009 04:20 AM #78
Rainer
478,183
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Maybe we need to define "evaluate."

Things are so litigious out here that even the extremely smart agents who have been in business for 30 years will feign ignorance when it comes to "evaluating" a home, or at least they will say, "We'll let Russel tell us about that when he does the home inspection."

Apr 05, 2009 09:37 PM #79
Rainer
19,021
Nannette Martin
RE/MAX Integrity - Salem, OR
Your Purple Shoes Real Estate Pro at RE/MAX

I'm new here and I found this an interesting discussion.

As an Exclusive Buyer Agent I certainly am not a home inspector, but I am always there when the home inspection is being done. I follow the inspector around and he's happy to show me the issues he finds. This is a great way to learn and then I can better help my clients evaulate the property and determine any repairs to be made.

With each succeeding property I learn more and can spot trouble before the inspection so my clients can decide to proceed with an offer or not, and negotiate accordingly. A basic working knowledge of the flaws a property has does not an inspector make!

I think the point that Glen has tried to make is that agents need to have a BASIC level of knowledge and actually LOOK at the house...really look at it in it's entirety - and evaluate it based on the clients NEEDS. Doing this is not putting an agent into the role of inspector. Sinking foundation at the back and the agent never looked at the back??? Well, that is just not keeping the client's best interests at heart and is taking the easy way out. 

As a matter of fact, I very bad experience with a dual agent who was "unaware" of a leaking diesel line in the home which led to an abandoned unground tank outside the home. There was a strong smell of fuel in the home and she insisted it was cleaning chemicals. That is why I vowed to never use anything but an Exclusive Buyer Agent when I bought property again. After my great experience with an EBA, I decided to become one myself so I could really advocate and help buyers.

 

May 04, 2009 06:26 PM #80
Anonymous
Neal Adler

With regards to buyer's agents and home inspections.  Having been a real estate professional for nearly 16 years and major involvement in Professional Standards for 4 associations including my state association, I know first hand about REALTOR(R)standard of  care, liability issues, and so forth. While a good agent should have a general working knowledge of tax/ legal implications of real esate, buildling codes etc.  Unless one is an attorney, CPA, contractor etc, we are not qualifed to make opinions in this area.  Once one makes an opinion we are considered an expert. This is why we the building inspector is hired, to inspect the property, report their findings, and if neccessary refer the buyer to the appropriate professional for further evaluation.  How many times have we seen building inspectors, lenders, escrow people open their mouths and kill a deal because they have made a remark to a buyer when it was not appropriate. The bottom line is the inspector should do their job and we as agents should not make unqualified opinions when commenting on the condition of a property.

 

 

 

 

Jul 17, 2009 12:27 AM #81
Anonymous
Paul Howard

"we are not qualifed to make opinions in this area."

Here is the thing:  Once you have some knowledge many things are no longer just 'opinion'. If you see a defect you must tell.  Some agents hind behind their claim of ignorance.

 I know what termite tubes look like AND I look for them when showing a client a house.  If I don't see any I tell the client that an inspector very well might see something that I did not.  If I do see them I try to get an idea of damage and again tell the client there might be a lot more--- AND that what I see might be more than just termite damage.

If I see a horizontal crack in a concrete block foundation wall I tell the client that it will likely be flagged by a home inspector.

I am PROACTIVE in trying to discover things in the house that could be concerns and that likely will be flagged by an inspector.  My standard line to my client is that if I find one thing a good inspector is likely to find 5 more.

I point out poor grading and curled/broken shingles and whether the windows are likely original or not. 

I try to give an idea of the age of the furnace (I don't know the age of course but I know the difference between age 40 and new and I know if one plastic looking pipe for a vent indicating it is hi efficiency)

I could go on but when a home inspector comes to the house for the inspection things go much better if I have already pointed out many of the highlights. 

Saying that you don't tell buyers what you see because of the 'liability' is a cop out.  If you know - you see.  If you see - you have to tell.

That is why many agents would rather be ignorant of such things.

Of course if the agent is working for the company that listed the house they would be prohibited from being proactive in trying to discover defects ---- that is why my company does not list houses.

 

Paul Howard,Broker

NJHomeBuyer.com Realty - Cherry Hill NJ

856-488-8444

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 19, 2010 07:24 AM #82
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