Real Estate deal breakers
We were recently called deal breakers by a real estate broker. We were doing a building inspection for our clients, the buyers, in the presence of a real estate broker who was representing his clients, the sellers, who were absent. Let me explain what happened.
First of all, the broker, who we will refer to here as Mr. Savage, admitted having learned several things in the course of our inspection. So far, all is good.
We were carrying out the inspection for our client in the normal fashion when we discovered traces of dampness at the bottom of a wall in the basement. So we explained to our client that in our opinion this seemed to indicate that, due to the age of the building, the French drain would have to be checked to make sure it wasn’t blocked and that if it was, it would be necessary to dig around the house to change the drain. We recommended that the client call a contractor in the field to get an expert opinion on the matter.
Mr Savage is clearly less comfortable with the inspection all of a sudden. He sticks close to us and listens to all that is being said, never leaving us alone with our clients. The clients are also a little unsettled by the situation and ask what their recourses are. And this is when the inspector, Serge, explains that the report he will provide them with is a document which belongs to them and that it can be instrumental in negotiating with the sellers before closing the deal. He adds that it not necessary to withdraw the offer to purchase and that it is more a matter of obtaining the right price for the condition of the house.
And this is when Mr. Savage calls us deal breakers! Perhaps he should have said commission breakers. For that is obviously what he had in mind, and not a fair and objective transaction between buyer and seller.
What conclusion can we draw from this experience with Mr. Savage?
First of all, if he had referred his own clients, the sellers, to a competent building inspector before putting their property on the market, he would probably not have learned anything new on our subsequent inspection for the buyers. It is to be noted that Mr. Savage is well into his sixties and must have attended thousands of building inspections in the course of his life.
Secondly, real estate agents or brokers usually work towards obtaining the highest possible commission. They are therefore not neutral!
In fact the only neutral element is the building inspector and he is the one who makes sure the transaction is made with a clear knowledge of the building’s condition.
So before you hire the inspector referred by a real estate agent or broker, make sure you know who he is working for. If he is working for the agent, your inspector may not be quite as neutral as you would hope. Rare are those who bite the hand that feeds them.