Booby Traps And Land Mines

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

I have learned not to enter a property without an agent present.  I have learned not to be alone with a client during a home inspection without the agent present.  During the home inspection, I prefer to have the agent walking around with us and not sitting in the kitchen catching up on text messages.

Why?

Because I have learned that some sellers are desperate enough to do anything to sell the house.  In my experience they have gone so far as to try to booby trap my inspection, and lay land mines for me to step on.

There is only one way I can protect myself.  Witnesses.

This is my experience in just the last 18 months:

~~  When testing the washing machine the knob simply came off in my hand.  Everyone saw it.  That wasn't the only appliance broken in the house.  The seller placed the knob like that for me to "break," said I had broken it, and that I probably broke all the other things in the house too, so the inspection report was not valid.  My client's agent said no and described the experience.  The seller went so far as to mail me a receipt for the "repair," for $480!  He could buy a new washer for that.  I ignored the receipt and did not hear further.

~~  I turned on another washer and we all went upstairs to check it out.  Coming back down for my ladder I found the middle level flooded and flooding!  Before turning on washers I always check behind to see if the connections are properly made.  Only then do I turn it on.  This leak was coming from inside and underneath the machine.  It flooded the basement too.  My client's agent called the other agent, who let this slip, "Oh no!  He said he would have that fixed before the inspection!"  My position was that I am there to test things.  The seller harassed me for two weeks, to no avail, and let it drop.  Turns out this had happened before.

~~  Arriving at the house to the buyers anxiously waiting for me in the driveway, they pointed out the chimney on the house, leaning and separated from the house about 6" at the top.  We discussed the possible reasons and I put it on the report.  I received an angry phone call that night from the seller saying I had gone onto the roof, pushed they chimney over with my legs, "so you would have something to put on the report!  I'm suing your A$$!"  I said, "Sir, I am strong, but not that strong.  Good luck with your lawsuit." 

~~  A recent roof repair revealed a carefully finished drywall repair with just joint compound, and a lot of primer and paint.  From the attic I could see loads of a "moldy" substance.  A basement room similarly smelled very moldy, and I could see a horizontal foundation crack leading from the furnace room toward the direction of that room.  There was a similar amount of primer and paint used there.  It was noted on the report.  My clients bolted.  That evening an irate seller called me, said I "cost [him] $350,000," and that he was coming to my house to "let [me] have it!"  I told him he didn't want to deal with me and that if he shows up his rights are left in his car.  I then immediately called the police to tell them of the threat and told them that in self defense I would use "protective force."  (That gave me a phone record of two calls in a row.)  The seller never showed up.  Good thing!

~~  Some sellers had moving boxes carefully arranged along a concrete block basement wall.  That was witnessed and noted on the report.  My clients moved in to see a gaping, horizontal foundation crack right where the boxes were.  Not good!  They called me and an engineer.  The sellers said that must have opened up after the inspection.  Yeah, right...  We said no, and that the crack had been "artfully concealed," which is the legal phraseology for such circumstances.  The sellers ended up paying for wall reinforcement (the case didn't get further than that) and my clients were VERY upset, not even wanting the house.

My recommendation:   Sometimes people are not honest.  Be present with your favorite home inspector during the inspection.  You don't want anyone stepping in it.

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainer
126,384
Tony Grego, 317-663-4173 #1 Trade Association for Alternative Inv
REISA - 317-663-4173 - Indianapolis, IN

yep. in this world you need to cover everything. i guess going to a blind inspection open you up for plenty of questions

good post

tony

Nov 18, 2009 10:06 PM #1
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Tony.  It does, truly.  Which is you, left or right?

Nov 18, 2009 10:17 PM #2
Ambassador
2,556,938
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

I'm sure you have your camera ready to take photos as well. It's interesting to see the extent that people will go through to try and cover up a problem, and then divert the blame to someone else. Interesting post, liked the cartoon, obnoxious gas? Thanks for sharing

Nov 18, 2009 10:51 PM #3
Rainer
67,068
Alexandria Virginia
Featuring Susan Craft, CRS, REALTOR® - McEnearney Associates - Alexandria, VA
Real Estate Editor

Jay - your info is always so solid.  Thanks again.

Nov 18, 2009 10:58 PM #4
Ambassador
1,333,956
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay I feel pretty lucky to have had only one such thing happen---where a guy wanted a new heater for his hot tub:)  Didn't go past the phone call either.

Nov 19, 2009 12:51 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Ed - A camera does not help if a washing machine knob pops off!  Sometimes the camera says it all however.  The cartoon I think is saying that there is a "bottomless" pit of potential booby traps, but in them we get the butt end...

Susan - thank you!  Such posts, however unfortunate, are relevant.  There are all kinds of tricks out there.

Charlie - are you saying that people in that Washington are a bit more honest than people in this Washington?  Go figure...

Nov 19, 2009 06:49 AM #6
Rainmaker
684,559
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

I have been fortunate up to this point. I had one call from a seller who complained the floor was wet in front of the shower. She wanted me to come back and dry the floor. I told her that wasn't happening.

Nov 19, 2009 11:16 AM #7
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's amazing James.  I can name many, and many, more traps and land mines left me.  Over the years, who knows, maybe 100?  A couple of them have been big deals. 

Nov 19, 2009 11:22 AM #8
Rainmaker
86,952
Eric Middleton
Closer Look Property Inspections Inc. - Uniondale, NY
Professional Property Inspector

Hey Jay,

This is an awesome post. Sometimes I wonder why I stay in this line of work. This post will keep me much, much more alert

Nov 19, 2009 01:52 PM #9
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

This is just the tip of the ice berg, unfortunately Eric.  There are many more things I could have written about.

Nov 19, 2009 06:33 PM #10
Rainmaker
233,467
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

Jay - I've never had anything like any your stories happen to me!  The closest I've come was when I touched light globe and it fell out.  I ran to the hardware store after my inspection and replaced it.

Nov 25, 2009 11:18 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's the tip of the iceberg Reuben!  There are many more stories where those came from...  unfortunately.  You mean people are not always honest?  Go figure.

Nov 25, 2009 11:55 AM #12
Rainer
2,450
John Hill About The House Inspection Services
About The House, LLC - Charleston, SC

Jay, too bad the homeowners don't have to pass an ethics exam!HA!

Nov 27, 2009 07:50 AM #13
Rainmaker
1,844,065
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

John - do you get the ones who put store-bought ice into the broken ice maker to make the buyers think the ice maker works?  I get that 3 or 4 times a year.  It is amazing...

Nov 27, 2009 09:12 PM #14
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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