"Well, They Never Use It..."

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

Sometimes the listing agent will show up toward the end of a home inspection to "see if there are any questions [the] can answer." 

Can I translate that into people speak?  "Are there any problems I should know about now.  I want to gird my loins." 

Sometimes the translation is:  "I am ready to argue with you about anything."

May I say, and I know who my major audience is here, I don't like it when the "other" agent shows up at a home inspection and I certainly don't like arguments.  There is no place for this sort of thing.  Buyers should have unfettered access to a house for an inspection (without homeowners or listing agents present) and should be able to stay as long as they need to have their questions answered.

THAT IS MY OPINION, OF COURSE.

Take this chimney for instance.

It is a disaster.  The chimney cap and metal assembly are broken, coming apart and literally stuck up there with a couple of drywall screws!

Water and debris have been getting in for some time.

The flat metal top is rusting through, and water is getting behind everything.  That algae up there isn't drinking malted milk.  You can see that water is coming from inside the siding.

So much water has been getting in that the roof sheathing is rotting.  See the dramatic sag in the roof to the right of the chimney?

Inside the house, the fireplace was in similar condition.  Damaged, coming apart, rusting and UNSAFE.

This fireplace was one of many safety issues with this house, but a biggie!  The buyers really wanted a fireplace in their next home.  They were hoping to have one!

We are beginning to leave the house, I am packed up, bag and ladder in hand, and in sashays the listing agent.  Her practiced line is out of her mouth practically before she steps over the thresh hold.  The "any questions" line.  She intentionally faced with her back to me, dismissing me like a mother cat ignoring her kittens by swishing them away with her tail.

The buyers, mistakenly, mentioned how much they were looking forward to having a fireplace and this one is very unsafe.

This horrific and nuclear defamation of the house was more than she could bear!  And she launched with a couple of out-of-context sentences, not the least bit cogent, and silly really, ending with, "Well, they (the sellers) never use it, so it comes as is."

The buyers had no come back.  I think they were shocked by her diatribe.

Perhaps out of line, I put my bag down, walked in front of the agent, bent down so my eyes were level with hers, smiled and softly and calmly said, "This fireplace is not the only issue with this house.  There are many!  But it was something that disappointed MY CLIENTS because they were really looking forward to a fireplace.  This one is unsafe and could only be used if completely rebuilt, along with all the associated damage it has caused.  The sellers may not use it, but that is irrelevant.  They are selling it to someone else, clearly advertising that the house has a fireplace!  That's a bit like selling a car to someone, advertising air conditioning, and finding out after the deal that it doesn't work, saying hey, no problem, the seller doesn't use it!  I find that a bit silly.  DON'T YOU AGREE?"

I learned to use those last three words when studying debate in school.  When you DO make a clear and cogent point, in contrast to your debate opponent, using the phrase "don't you agree?" really cements your case.

HOW COULD SHE ARGUE WITH THAT?

With that I picked up my stuff, and walking toward the door said to my clients, "Thanks guys!  I will email you the report tonight."

Walking out the door I thought I heard music.  Yes, I'm sure I did.  I heard "Under My Thumb," by the Rolling Stones, and the lines:

" It's down to me, oh yeah,
The way she talks when she's spoken to.
Down to me, the change has come,
She's under my thumb
Yeah, it feels alright... "

My recommendation:  stand your ground!  "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."  Wow, that should be a proverb!

 



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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  1. Lenn Harley 04/21/2012 10:55 PM
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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Comment #4.

Carla makes two great points. 

Since the home inspector wrote this defect as a safety matter, the appraisal may be "conditioned" on that repair being made. 

Also, when we buyer's agents see such obvious defects, without getting technical, our best advice to a buyer is to move on. Far too many buyers have the thought in their minds that sellers must make repairs.  Nothing is farther from accurate.  Why spend valuable money on a home inspection to be told what we can easily see??

 

 

Apr 22, 2012 04:39 AM #35
Rainmaker
219,095
Judy Orr
HomeSmart Realty Group - Orland Park, IL
SW & Near West Chicago suburbs

I am also questioning where the buyer's agent was.  I had a listing agent present once at an inspection to "hold her seller's hand".  She stayed out of the way and didn't bother us - she really was sitting with her seller.

This stuff sounds too scary to me and we've purchased foreclosures without these kinds of problems.  I might suggest my buyer walk if the seller won't do anything.  In my area, everything is expected to be in working condition unless otherwise noted and if it is an "As-is" sale it must be designated as such as the buyers have to initial the "As-is" paragraph on the contract.

Apr 22, 2012 05:02 AM #36
Rainmaker
455,517
John Mulkey
TheHousingGuru.com - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

Jay - If I ever move to VA, I'm calling you to inspect the home I purchase. Not only do you offer some of the most thorough inspections I've seen, your responses alone to sellers, agents and others are worth your fee.

Apr 22, 2012 05:24 AM #38
Rainmaker
288,406
Tim Bradley
Contour Investment Properties - Jackson Hole, WY
Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY

That seller's agent must have felt the sale slipping away...but that's no reason to react defensively and angrily to a safety issue. Perhaps this wasn't the first time she was told the fireplace was in poor condition...

Apr 22, 2012 06:31 AM #39
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Yikes!  Just getting home from a long day (working hard, just not doing secular work, if you catch my thinly-veiled church mention).  I will get on these tonight.

Wow, this stimulated some debate!  Love it!

FOR ALL INTERESTED, THESE BUYERS BROUGHT THEIR OWN SET OF PROBLEMS.  THEY OWN PROPERTIES IN MANY STATES AND FELT THAT THEY WERE/ARE SO EXPERIENCED THEY DID NOT NEED AN AGENT.

I JUMPED IN, NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE WIDE-EYED CHILDREN AND NEEDED A BIG BOY TO HELP OUT, BUT BECAUSE THE AGENT DISMISSED ME SO IMPOLITELY AND HER COMMENT MADE ME SEE RED.  HOWEVER, SHE DID NOT HEAR ANY "RED" COME FROM ME OR MY FEELINGS.

Apr 22, 2012 07:36 AM #40
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Wayne - on this house, David Copperfield would have had to conjure up a lot of illusions to make a whole bunch of things right!

Debbie - this was the house with the very cute fence I posted about last week!  Who knows, maybe we were the 15th home inspection on this joint and she had already had her fill of bad messages!

Kathryn - 15: 1  Are you sure it's 15: 1 already taken?  That wasn't the only problem with 15: 1 the house, for sure!  And 15: 1, it wasn't a debate, just a soft 15: 1 put-in-her-place answer.  15: 1

No agent Lenn!  These are very savvy buyers, owning lots of properties, and have been through this so many times an agent wasn't necessary.  Yes, my tongue is firmly in my cheek, but true it is - no agent!

And I find that this line works with people who know they haven't a leg to stand on.

Lenn - interestingly, I think this chimney (covered in vinyl siding where the rest of the house has aluminum) is built around the ORIGINAL chimney.  Hmmm... what could they be hiding?

Apr 22, 2012 09:06 AM #41
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jim - I hear you.  It is apparent we inspectors all experience the same things!  No agent here.  They "didn't need one."

Gary - that happens, but the agents will all hear sooner than later!  And, as you have read, no other agent here.

Erv - where do you find this stuff!  That was a riot!  I laughed the whole time!

When I sold my previous house, Bliz, I had not used the fireplace in 10 or more years.  But before I put it on the market I had a sweep come by to investigate, clean and repair.

Vanessa - sometimes!  I am one who wishes they would simply wait to receive a copy of it, along with any addendum.

Apr 22, 2012 09:12 AM #42
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, Christiansen Team, from time to time here.  Many times it isn't a problem, but many times it is!

Ellen - I am a teacher and very good at explaining things if asked.  But when confronted I get rubbed the wrong way.  However, buyers are doing something very important and they have little opportunity to examine the house unfettered by other influences.  The home inspection should be their time.

I agree with that Mike.  And you know me, I am not a brutish force.  The house is the house.  All I am doing is reporting.

Amanda - perhaps, but there were so many things with this house that they did notice and ignored, it is hard to imagine they did not know what they were doing.

All true Lenn.  And you make this case even better on your reblog, which I highly recommend people read!

Apr 22, 2012 09:22 AM #43
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's pretty solid advice Michelle.  Sounds like GA is similar to here.

I agree Than.  I am very much inclined not to say anything to anyone but the buyers at a home inspection.  Everyone will find out soon enough.

Richie - if I claimed here that I know which Lenn buttons to push it would not be true!  I don't!  But I do know her to be a straight shooter and you can probably see that in her posts and comments!

As to the elephant, it does seem to always be there!

Jeff - this fireplace was a big problem, but not the only big problem!  And overall, I wish the listing agent had not shown up.  She had let us in earlier, but that should have been the extent of her involvement.

Mike - that is the crux of my post a while back called "Caveat Omnia!"  Beware of everything!  There is no Golden Rule any longer.

 

Apr 22, 2012 09:30 AM #44
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Tom - agreed.  That is what the addendum is all about. 

Tammy - this was no flip.  They are living there and want very much to sell.  Maybe you haven't seen my many Flipper blogs, but I am a true skeptic!

Wayne - the causes can be various, but the sagging is from compromised wood - rot or cracking.

All true Rob.  And there is time to review the inspection findings and address them individually.  Costs often are more than anticipated, as you suggest!

Leslie - everything in VA is as is, according to the contract.  But you are right, they advertised a fireplace and as such, you would think, it should work!

 

Apr 22, 2012 09:35 AM #45
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Karen - I have never had a listing agent attent the entirety of a home inspection.  If that was to happen I would probably politely suggest that they wait elsewhere and for the results when an addendum is brought forth.  In my opinion the buyers should have unfettered access to an expensive thing they are buying.

Don - I think this was a fireplace inside of another fireplace frame.  It was a disaster inside and out.  And unsafe!

Rich - and this wasn't the only safety issue with the house.  I would be very concerned if these issues are not fixed prior to the next buyer's offer.

Carla - usually that would be the case, especially with an agent involved.  But alas, these buyers had no agent!

Charlie - you may have seen my other comments, but these buyers "didn't need one."  They were very savvy...  

Apr 22, 2012 10:00 AM #46
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Lenn - you are right on there.  These were things certainly visible just from walking around the house.  But the savvy buyer oftentimes is not at all savvy!

All true Judy.  You may have seen the other comments.  No agent!  And you have seen probably, in Virginia every house comes "as is."

Agreed Erica.  That was a perfectly irrelevant position to take.

Thank you John.  But I do what most inspectors do, I am pretty sure.  I do try to be thorough and think things through though.

Tim - for all I know, this was the lastest of a dozen times this property has slipped away!

 

Apr 22, 2012 10:09 AM #47
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Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent
It is what it is. Just because the seller hasn't or doesn't use something in the house doesn't change the fact it may be deficient. The buyer needs to know the whole story therefore that is why they have home inspections done. Then they can make a decision if they want to live with it or not.
Apr 22, 2012 01:03 PM #48
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I think that's right Debbie.  For certain some people can be unreasonable, but if there is a real deficiency the listing agent can't expect to just turn it over!

Apr 22, 2012 07:04 PM #49
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Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

Jay I respect your opinion, but in my area it is not only customary, but most equity sellers require their own agents to be in the home during inspections. I suppose if it made you uncomfortable, the buyers would need a new inspector? it might be nice for buyers to have unfettered access...but it's still someone else's home and they get to set the rules.

Apr 22, 2012 11:48 PM #50
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, Karen, that's the old saying, different strokes for different states!

Apr 23, 2012 01:50 AM #51
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jay -- really, vinyl vs. aluminum?   Whatever the sellers were thinking when they did that (or maybe they bought it that way, because they didn't have a great inspector) just shows you would expect to find other problems throughout.

Apr 23, 2012 04:33 AM #52
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Who knows when this was done Steven.  But this chimney was a mess, aluminum or vinyl!  I think it was a chimney outside the original one.

Apr 23, 2012 06:39 AM #53
Rainer
241,877
Justin Dibbs
Pearson Smith Realty - Ashburn, VA
REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale

As sad as it is to say, I've heard similar things uttered by listing agents that have attended inspections before.

Apr 30, 2012 07:44 AM #54
Rainmaker
1,843,015
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It's amazing to me how sometimes agents take the side of their clients even when they know it is wrong Justin.  And I don't know why, like it will aid the sale or something.

Apr 30, 2012 10:23 AM #55
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