Honest Home Inspector Calls It As He Sees It

PRLog (Press Release)Oct 29, 2011
I don’t care too much for your report – You are too nitpicky – You are a deal killer – You scared my clients away from a perfectly good house – We were only looking for “major” defects – You will never get another referral from me or my office.

No doubt, if you are a competent and honest home inspector, you have heard one or more of these threats from Realtors, either express or implied. Mike Chamberlain, owner of MC2 Home Inspections has had more than his fair share of encounters with these kinds of situations over the past several years.

According to Mike, many Realtors are on a power trip when dealing with home inspectors. Their mentality is “I have power over you and your industry and I can hurt your business so you better play the game or you will not get any business from us”. Where in the world do you suppose they get this idea? Well, Realtors are approached regularly by home inspectors looking for them to channel work in their direction. The mentality seems to suggest that if they can scare you, they can control you and ultimately control the inspection results. “My response to those who believe such nonsense is simple, you cannot and do not threaten me, that’s why I don’t market to Realtors.” Mike says.

“If I marketed to Realtors and relied on them for 80% to 90% of my business like most home inspectors, that might be a scary threat.” Mike says that Realtors have too much influence over the home inspection industry. Because of this influence, many potential home buyers are being steered to who he calls “patty cake inspectors.” Once a purchase agreement on a home has been signed, the Realtor will usually hand out a list of three home inspectors for their client to call and obtain a home inspection. What the client doesn’t know is how those inspectors got on that list. “Patty cake inspectors are the inspectors that play patty cake with the Realtor. They don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the relationship that keeps bringing them referrals.” What that means to the potential home buyer is that if you choose one of these inspectors, you might not necessarily be getting the very best home inspection available.

There are usually hundreds of home inspectors to choose from in any metropolitan area, but Mike says that only a handful of these inspectors make it to the promised land, referring to the Realtors list. We were shocked to find that in many cases, home inspectors are asked to pay an annual fee to be on these lists. We also learned that some home inspectors actually bribe Realtors with gifts or pay to sponsor Realtor related activities in order to maintain their referral business. According to Mike, these are the home inspectors that give the good ones a bad name. “These guys play patty cake with the Realtor and may conveniently overlook certain things during an inspection that could potentially kill the sale.” “We do not kill the sale; the house usually commits suicide” Mike says, “Our allegiance is to our client, I do what is right by my client so I can sleep at night.”

Like most home inspectors, Mike was naive when entering into this industry. He believed that his role was to deliver to his client as much information about the home they were purchasing as possible. He also believed that Realtors understood the role of a home inspector and would actually appreciate having this information to better advise their clients. Much to his surprise, he could not have been more wrong!

Mike says that he was enlightened early in his career that according to many Realtors, his role was not to find and report on deficiencies, rather it was to reassure the buyer that this was the house for them. For his transgression, he and his company have become blacklisted in many real estate offices. He quickly realized that he was never going to make Realtors happy. “Why should I even try? After all, I am not working for them, I am working for my client. The Realtors aren’t paying my bills; our clients are the ones who write the checks!” Mike completely stopped marketing to Realtors, and focused solely on what was best for his clients. As a result, MC2 Home Inspections has quickly moved up the ranks as being one of the top rated and most influential home inspection companies in the areas they serve. “We have won many awards and accolades during our time in business and we continue to win over the skeptics every day ”. Mike says. “All of our referrals, approximately 85%, come from either past client referrals or Angie’s List members. When you do whats right, eventually people will take notice and tell others about it”.

“I have run across a small number of Realtors who like what we do for our clients”.  For instance, according to recent data, there are approximately 6,000 Realtors in the Indianapolis area, Mike says, of that 6,000 there are about 10 that refer MC2 Home Inspections to their clients. “Please realize that is not a reflection of our work, on the contrary, it is a direct reflection of the mentality of many Realtors. This is the only industry I can think of where if you are thorough and do your job you are actually looked down upon among your peers.”

According to Mike and other home inspectors we talked to, Realtors have their own subtle ways of trying to control a home inspector. “One of the most common signs that a Realtor is trying to control you is when a Realtor asks you for some of your business cards before the inspection or shortly after the inspection begins. That’s a bribe. They will come out and say something like “we are always looking for good inspectors to recommend”. What they are really trying to do is sway the inspection in their favor by making you believe that they will refer business to you. They have no idea how good of an inspector you are until you present your report to the client. If they want cards the next time they run into you, then that’s different. Especially if the first sale died because of your inspection, that’s a compliment from a good Realtor.”

Mike has a strong warning for new inspectors entering the field. “To the new home inspectors coming up I want to say be VERY careful. Playing patty cake with the Realtor is a quick and easy way to get sued. This is a profession that carries a lot of liability with it. I know you are going to go out and market to Realtors, because that is what home inspectors have been doing since Moses was young. Even all of the home inspection schools and organizations tell new home inspectors to go out and market to Realtors for business. I am here to tell you that you do not need to do this. I am living proof that you do not need to. Tell them all to go fish and just take care of your client!”

Fortunately, Mike says, the face of Realtors seems to be changing. Albeit very slowly. “Over the past few years I’ve been noticing that there are more Realtors who are thinking more long term.” Many of these Realtors are new to the industry. “The immediate sale is becoming less important than their long term reputation. I would imagine that the internet and continued consumer information has something to do with that. Unfortunately, there are still many of the old school Realtors out there who are used to the less than ethical home inspectors, but the professionalism displayed by some of the newer Realtors gives me a glimmer of hope.”

Us too.