Pay to Play Home Inspectors Are Unethical

As an ethical home inspection company, we have seen a lot of things in this industry that are just not right. Atop the list are real estate companies that charge home inspectors to be on their “preferred list of home inspectors” or “preferred vendors” list. What’s that? You were not aware of this unethical practice? Don’t feel like the lone ranger. Most people are completely unaware of this very real problem.

So who are these unethical real estate companies?

You might be surprised to learn that the real estate companies who practice this “pay to play” charade just happen to be some of the largest real estate companies in the country. There is plenty of big money involved in this practice and whistle blowers in the past have not been dealt with very favorably. While we will not name names, we can tell you that the companies who actively practice this are among the top 10 real estate companies in the country. Enough said.

So how are they getting away with this?

Home inspectors are specifically banned from offering compensation to Realtors for inspection referrals by all licensing authorities as well as all home inspector organizations throughout the country. So how is this particular practice being allowed to continue? The people involved call it “advertising”. They are walking a VERY thin line, but somehow to date are getting away with it, and making plenty of money in the meantime, often times at your expense. Many of these pay to play real estate companies are charging home inspectors anywhere from $600.00 to $1,500.00 per year to be on these lists. The real estate companies argue that it is no different than placing an ad in the Yellow Pages or the newspaper. We beg to differ. When a potential home buyer places his or her trust in their Realtor, they are also placing their trust in their Realtors home inspector recommendation. If a Realtor is recommending a home inspector simply because they paid to be on a list, then that is wrong and it is a serious conflict of interest. To many in this industry, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” is not just a quirky antidote, it is a way of life. If you still are not convinced that this is a serious issue, think of it this way. When using one of these pay to play home inspectors, where do you think their allegiance lies?

What can you do to protect yourself from this unethical practice?

There are several things you as a potential home buyer can do to protect yourself as well as your investment.

First, try enlisting the services of an independent Realtor that is not affiliated with a large corporate office. Many independent Realtors used to work for these large companies and have decided to go out on their own due to the unethical practices employed by these large corporate entities. Most, if not all independent Realtors are sincerely looking out for their clients best interests and are more apt to give you the personal service you expect.

Second, find your own home inspector. Yes, you do have a choice when it comes to hiring a home inspector. You are not bound to your Realtors recommendations. You are free to choose whoever you want to inspect your new investment. Ask friends, family members and co-workers for home inspector recommendations. Anyone who has had a positive home inspection experience will be quick to tell you about it.

Third, get online. The internet continues to be one of the best sources available for finding true real estate professionals. Remember to check their reviews. Online reviews have grown in popularity in recent years and home inspectors cannot run from bad publicity.

Last but certainly not least, check with the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List for reputable home inspectors in your area.

What can be done to stop the unethical practice of pay to play?

Currently there is absolutely nothing in place to stop this practice. There is plenty of big money involved and as you might expect, anytime it is questioned, it quickly gets swept under the carpet using the “it’s simply advertising” explanation. The only way this will stop is if legislation is put in place to stop it, and the only way that will ever happen is if people get involved. Why is it important to get involved? Think of it this way. The next time you need a home inspection, how important will it be to you to receive a thorough and unbiased home inspection with no hidden agenda?

If you are an ethical real estate professional, a potential home buyer or just an everyday average Joe who believes that this type of practice is wrong and unethical, we urge you to get involved in any way you can. Send a letter or an email to your State Representatives or your Senator and let them know that you think this practice is wrong and should be illegal. Spread the word to your friends, family and coworkers that this practice does indeed exist and that something needs to be done about it. If enough people raise their voice, we can and will make a difference and right something that is very wrong.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Anxiety-Prone Home Inspections

Staying in anticipation of Home Inspections stimulates anxieties. That is normal and a part of life. But what have you to worry about if you have taken the measures to make your home absolutely spick and span and get everything working well? In this article, I cite examples from real life where I had to go through great home inspections.

First of all, I remember when I was overseas, right before I had been conferred upon the degree in the graduation ceremony, I was working hard every day to clean my dorm room and the attached bathroom part by part. A few days before leaving my dorm, I was talking with the caretaker, and he said, “Come in inside your room. I will show you what to clean.” I was baffled but the consequences were lovely. He looked at the window and then the walls, shelves, table and the floor but he didn’t find dirt anywhere. It made me smile because I had been cleaning my room part by part all along. “OK”, he said, “Everything seems alright. Just make sure the bathroom is clean as well.” Then he stalked out. I was supposed to get caution money for my room and the day before I was leaving, the caretaker was supposed to hand it over to me after the cleaning inspection of my room. But instead he called me downstairs to his office, asking me to sign a form and then handing me over the caution money. And then I was free! I said to myself, Wow, my room doesn’t have to go through the inspection after all because he had already seen the status of my room a few days back! Lucky break!

I had to confront another cleaning inspection overseas in another country. Apartments on the campus were subjected to inspection every six months. Apart from the pressure of studies, I cleaned and cleaned bit by bit until the big day arrived. The inspector arrived on time. Now this was an apartment, covering a bigger area than the dorm room with the attached bathroom in the other country, where the cleaning up was easier. So here was the inspector. He examined the carpets, the bathroom, closets, bedroom, living room and finally the tiny kitchen. In the kitchen, he looked inside the refrigerator, drawers and shelves and then the cooking stove. There, I didn’t know the cooking stove’s lid could be lifted up and as he did so, there were tiny grains of cooked meals. Here is what he said, “Of course, the entire apartment is clean and tidy. You cannot fail the test simply because of this. Just clean it up!” It was something I learnt and made sure to have it absolutely immaculate before I left the apartment for good.

Now in my country, people still have to learn about proper cleanliness and management of homes. When owners of an estate rent it out to tenants, the tenants are careless enough to go about damaging everything and not to talk of tidiness during their stay. When the tenants leave, it is the responsibility of the owners to take care of furnishing and decorating and above all, make it all spotless and luminous for new tenants. It is funny but that is the way with our part of the world! Yet, estate owners could make it a part of their agreement policies that tenants keep everything inside their homes working well and clean up to the brim otherwise they would be fined. In fact, owners should make it a point that their tenants leave their homes in the same standard as that when they had first put their foot in.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Building Inspector Checklist: The Scope Of Building Inspection

A building inspector is responsible to look through your property and check for anything that compromises the integrity of it. This professional looks for any damages or malfunctions within the area and generates a report which you can analyse to help you come up with a better decision.

Building And Pest Inspection Checklist

As the owner, it is essential for you to know the things that a building inspector must assess when conducting inspection at your property. Provided below is the checklist.

Doors – Are they planned to fit the frame? All door panels in your building should open and close without obstructing the door frames.

Windows – just like the doors, windows should also open and shut easily. Inspectors usually check for cracked panels, damp damage, and condensation.

Wall and ceilings – surfaces of these areas should be checked for mould and damp markings. Is there any buckling from the doorway? How about irregular areas of mould stains or fresh paint?

Roof – the colour, frame, cover, and drainage are checked here. The type of timber used needs to be determined as well as some hardwood timber can cause sounds when the season changes. Are there water or rust marks? How is the storm water pipes installed?

Kitchen – all fittings in this area should be secured. Check kitchen sink for any damp stains. Are there leaks under the sink?

External wall – inspectors check for any signs of movement here. Materials used may have bowed or sagged.

Sub floor area – the quality of material is checked at this point. Soil surface as well is checked to make sure that water courses are good.

Bathrooms – things checked on this area are the taps, shower screens, sink, bath tub, tiles, shower bases, exhaust fans, hot water source, etc. Everything should function properly.

Toilets – there should be no leaks after flushing. Inspector must look for signs of excessive sealant.

Laundry – overflow drain should be checked. The trough and wall in this area should be sealed and free from rust.

Plumbing – materials used are checked. Are there broken seals and cracks in waste pipes?

Electrical – the fuse box should have modern circuit breaker, wiring cable should be white, and there should be earth leakage safety switch.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off