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  1. #1
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    Default Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    An ongoing problem with performing inspections in occupied homes has been the clutter and furnishings blocking my inspections. One of the questions I ask a buyer when filling out my inspection request form is "Is the house occupied?" If the answer is yes, then I ask them to call their agent so they can call the listing agent, to call the owners, to have the house ready for inspections. I tell my client an extra charge will be collected from them (the buyer) if I have to return to finish the inspection. In my confirmation email (which I copy the buyer's agent) I repeat this request and in my invoice I again repeat the extra charge warning.

    Of course I get to the occupied houses and 9 times out of 10 nothing has been done about clearing any paths. When the buyer shows up, I let them know about the problem and I remind them about the extra charge to come back.

    Later that day all hell breaks loose. Especially with the listing agent.

    The listing agent's irate call comes to me complaining "Why didn't you give me a courtesy call? I would have been there in 5 minutes to move things!" I argue the house should have been ready for inspection since the day the sales contract was signed. And the last thing I say to the listing agent is that I stopped being their secreary years ago because its a waste of my time and not my responsibility. One listing agent didn't like my attitude and called me a jerk.

    I wrote into TREC to find out whose responsibility is it. They wrote back that there is no rule in the book that makes it either the listing agent or the buyer's agent responsibility. I guess it all falls on the buyer. Well obviously that's not working.

    Does anyone here make that courtesy call?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Adame View Post
    An ongoing problem with performing inspections in occupied homes has been the clutter and furnishings blocking my inspections. One of the questions I ask a buyer when filling out my inspection request form is "Is the house occupied?" If the answer is yes, then I ask them to call their agent so they can call the listing agent, to call the owners, to have the house ready for inspections. I tell my client an extra charge will be collected from them (the buyer) if I have to return to finish the inspection. In my confirmation email (which I copy the buyer's agent) I repeat this request and in my invoice I again repeat the extra charge warning.

    Of course I get to the occupied houses and 9 times out of 10 nothing has been done about clearing any paths. When the buyer shows up, I let them know about the problem and I remind them about the extra charge to come back.

    Later that day all hell breaks loose. Especially with the listing agent.

    The listing agent's irate call comes to me complaining "Why didn't you give me a courtesy call? I would have been there in 5 minutes to move things!" I argue the house should have been ready for inspection since the day the sales contract was signed. And the last thing I say to the listing agent is that I stopped being their secreary years ago because its a waste of my time and not my responsibility. One listing agent didn't like my attitude and called me a jerk.

    I wrote into TREC to find out whose responsibility is it. They wrote back that there is no rule in the book that makes it either the listing agent or the buyer's agent responsibility. I guess it all falls on the buyer. Well obviously that's not working.

    Does anyone here make that courtesy call?
    I do not call. I have been at this for a few years and I seldom have a problem with items blocking my way. If I do and if I can move something with ease, I just move it out of the way.. I see no need to aggravate folks simply to make a point.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Frank

    I inform whoever books the inspection that I want clear access to the attic, furnace and electrical panels. Any shelving or storage in the way is to be moved to facilitate easy access at time of inspection.

    But as Scott points out occasionally my requests go unheeded and I will move or push aside contents from closet shelves or from around the furnace, hot water heater, et ceteras.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Adame View Post
    An ongoing problem with performing inspections in occupied homes has been the clutter and furnishings blocking my inspections. One of the questions I ask a buyer when filling out my inspection request form is "Is the house occupied?" If the answer is yes, then I ask them to call their agent so they can call the listing agent, to call the owners, to have the house ready for inspections. I tell my client an extra charge will be collected from them (the buyer) if I have to return to finish the inspection. In my confirmation email (which I copy the buyer's agent) I repeat this request and in my invoice I again repeat the extra charge warning.

    Of course I get to the occupied houses and 9 times out of 10 nothing has been done about clearing any paths. When the buyer shows up, I let them know about the problem and I remind them about the extra charge to come back.

    Later that day all hell breaks loose. Especially with the listing agent.

    The listing agent's irate call comes to me complaining "Why didn't you give me a courtesy call? I would have been there in 5 minutes to move things!" I argue the house should have been ready for inspection since the day the sales contract was signed. And the last thing I say to the listing agent is that I stopped being their secreary years ago because its a waste of my time and not my responsibility. One listing agent didn't like my attitude and called me a jerk.

    I wrote into TREC to find out whose responsibility is it. They wrote back that there is no rule in the book that makes it either the listing agent or the buyer's agent responsibility. I guess it all falls on the buyer. Well obviously that's not working.

    Does anyone here make that courtesy call?
    I do not make a courtesy call. I think part of the agents job is to coordinate services on behalf of the buyer/seller.
    I think that you have noted that you would like things moved so that you can do a proper inspection well enough in what you have already said. If your agents do not do the follow through communication you ask for then you disclose that the panel, attic space or whatever was not accessible. I would think an email to the agents would suffice. I would however tend to keep it as a low profile type of communication because we do have to keep working with these agents and a reputation for being difficult to work with is worse than no reputation.

    Expert Mobile & Manufactured Home Inspections O.C. & San Diego Co.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Most of the time I have no idea who the listing agent is - so I don't call. Almost all of my inspections are scheduled by my client. While I always ask questions like, "is there a real estate sign in the yard", or "who is the listing agent", they usually don't have a clue.

    I leave it to my client to make the arrangement for me to get into the house.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    I do not make a courtesy call.
    Bravo!

    I think part of the agents job is to coordinate services on behalf of the buyer/seller.
    Right again!

    I would think an email to the agents would suffice.
    I think that any effort expended on the inspector's part to do the agent's job for them is a waste of time and sets a bad example. In Texas, they get anywhere from 1.5% - 6% of the sales price of the house for their efforts. Do you?

    I would however tend to keep it as a low profile type of communication because we do have to keep working with these agents and a reputation for being difficult to work with is worse than no reputation.
    But, perhaps a reputation for being a doormat is the worst of all.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    I've made courtesy calls to agents ...

    ... I've been here for 20 minutes, if you are not here to open the house within the next 10 minutes ... I will be gone if you ever do arrive.

    Okay, not quite that bad, but close.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    My client is the buyer in most cases.

    I communicate that I need access, utilities, etc., etc. via a simple attachment when I book the inspection.

    When I arrive, I inspect what I can and disclaim the rest.

    Usually I can get a good idea of the condition of the house and there is no need for a return visit but I charge when I have to go back.

    It is not my fault or place to communicate or resolve deficiencies with the other parties.

    In the case of the OP, the inspection was likely scheduled through CSS or directly with the listing agent so they have been notified of the inspection. Why would they need a call??
    They are just pissed because the buyer's agent likely called them on the carpet for not doing their job by asking them to pay the fee for the return trip.

    No, I do not provide courtesy calls. I do however CC the buyer's agent with the "preparation for inspection" attachment when the inspection is booked.
    Preparation for the Inspection
    Please make sure that access and utility service is provided for the inspection which includes
    but is not limited to:
    Electricity is on
    Water is on
    Gas service is on or propane is available
    Swimming pool is cleaned so that the bottom surface is visible
    Electric panel are free from obstructions (no storage or furniture blocking access)
    All attic access hatches or stairways are free of obstructions.
    Cars are removed from the garage.
    Crawl space hatch is free of obstructions and can be opened by hand (no nails, etc. will
    be removed for access).
    All mechanical equipment is accessible. This means all furnaces, air conditioners, water
    heaters and other equipment need to have room to visually inspect and remove service
    panels.
    I recommend obtaining a C.L.U.E. report (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange)
    on the property. CLUE is a claims history database that the insurance companies use to
    determine prior losses on your home. This can be very important if there are past water
    or fire claims since insurance may be unavailable or more expensive.

    Please pass this information on to the real estate agents, house resident, and seller. It is
    imperative that full access is provided for a complete inspection. If any item is not accessible
    due to storage, locked or otherwise secured doors or panels, that item will not be inspected.
    During the inspection it is a time for intense scrutiny of the house and its systems and
    distractions can be detrimental to the process, so please limit the number of persons at the
    inspection to the buyer(s). If family, friends and children want to see the property it would be
    best to contact your agent to arrange that at a separate time.


    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    I do however CC the buyer's agent with the "preparation for inspection" attachment when the inspection is booked.
    This can work if the buyer even remembers who their agent is. 50% of the time they don't. I can understand why.

    Texas Inspector
    http://www.texasinspector.com
    What the plainspoken man lacks in subtlety, he makes up in clarity.

  10. #10
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    The large percentage of home inspections are booked through CSS and via that method the seller/owner/tenant and the listing agent have all been advised the inspection will be at XX time and XX date. Just repeating what others have noted.

    I do NOT go out of my way to try and figure out the listing agent or their contact information to begin to socialize with them about the needs that "should be common sense" for an inspection and inspector's access.

    My inspection agreement spells everything out. My client gets that document within an hour of my receiving approval from CSS for the inspection. It is up to them to read and understand and follow through. I will not read them bedtime stories to ensure they have read/understand a very simple document.

    I do mention on our initial call about access and it is up to them to follow through. If they don't I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep over it.

    BTW - I will move "very little" of anything to gain "safe" access.

    However, we all know about the prevailing "lack of common sense" in our society.

    If I can access the SEP, Water Heater, HVAC system ... so much the better. If I can't it is so noted and an image of the blockage/clutter is prominently displayed in my report.

    I don't offer another trip visit (follow-up) unless the client happens to ask and in most cases they don't.

    I do my best to minimize any/all contact/communication with agents. Typically those conversations just don't make for a pleasant day in most cases.

    FA - Don't stir things up with all the explanations and comments about: I can't do this or that or the other. Involving TREC in such an item was something you really didn't need to do. They will seldom (if ever) get involved with such minutia.

    Last edited by Nolan Kienitz; 09-03-2012 at 06:00 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    Bravo!


    Right again!


    I think that any effort expended on the inspector's part to do the agent's job for them is a waste of time and sets a bad example. In Texas, they get anywhere from 1.5% - 6% of the sales price of the house for their efforts. Do you?


    But, perhaps a reputation for being a doormat is the worst of all.
    The "doormat" thing would get you no referral business. All my business phone lines ring to my cell phone. I book all my own inspections. People love to get a hold of someone right away. They they don't like waiting or being put on hold or leaving a message.
    Here in So.Cal. there are tens of thousands of agents in my service area and I get more than 60% of my business from referrals from agents who have come to know me. My policy is more like "honey attracts more bees than vinegar". In my experience I've found a bad reputation spreads faster than a good one, and the good reputation is worth gold. I try to always be early to my appointments, provide a professional presentation and will bend over backwards to make it as pleasant an experience as humanly possilbe without demeaning myself. It's already generally a somewhat tense situation. Making it more tense doesn't make for a good referral next time around. This policy has served me well in the last 25 years of doing inspections, and until a better idea comes along I'll be sticking with it.

    Expert Mobile & Manufactured Home Inspections O.C. & San Diego Co.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    The "doormat" thing would get you no referral business.
    Perhaps. However, I rely instead on my 8500+ client database and 37 years in the construction/inspection business. While Realtor referrals may suit you, they don't suit me. To each his own.

    Texas Inspector
    http://www.texasinspector.com
    What the plainspoken man lacks in subtlety, he makes up in clarity.

  13. #13
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    Oct 2010
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    California
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    Cool Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Lets keep in mind that the Realtor will generate a pretty good commission. With that in mind they should split the cost with each other for having a handyman/mover prepare the property for inspection.

    Rick


  14. #14
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    May 2007
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    Tyler, TX
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    I also do not call the listing agent (unless I need the CBS code and the buyer's agent is too lazy to get it for me).

    I agree with Aaron, Nolan and Jim. I've had a few occasions where a panel was blocked or something prevented me from inspecting an area. Like Nolan, I take a photo and disclaim.

    If I have to go back (twice) I charge my client and then encourage them to get the money back from the Realtors.

    Greg, I'm in agreement with Aaron regarding worrying about my reputation with Realtors. Keep in mind, I don't go out of my way to be a jerk and will try to play well with everyone, but if a Realtor doesn't like me (and there several), I lose no sleep. I want my reputation to be that I'm a good inspector and am not very cuddly with any Realtor.

    Things are changing (I think) in Tyler. I'm finding out that more and more Realtors are merely giving their clients a list of inspectors or telling them to go online or look in the phone book.

    I ask every client where they found my name/number. Most say internet or phone book or referral from a happy client. If they answer that a Realtor gave them my name, I ALWAYS tell them, "You are not required to use me just because the Realtor gave you my name (or a short list of 3 names); you may select whomever for your home inspection....blah, blah" I really, really stress this point, even to the point of letting the sale go if necessary (never have yet).

    I don't want someone to come back later and say, "Well Judge, my Realtor selected my inspector for me."

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nolan Kienitz View Post
    The large percentage of home inspections are booked through CSS .....
    What is it with CSS ?? That has got to be one inept organization! The few times that I've come to the Metroplex and needed to use them -- it's like a 3 ring circus!!!

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    When I schedule through CSS, I always write down the, date, time and name of the person that I talked to. That info has come in handy when someone, usually the seller, gets a little ticked off at me because my arrival time and length of stay, was not the same as they were led to believe.


  17. #17
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
    Nolan Kienitz Guest

    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Adame View Post
    When I schedule through CSS, I always write down the, date, time and name of the person that I talked to. That info has come in handy when someone, usually the seller, gets a little ticked off at me because my arrival time and length of stay, was not the same as they were led to believe.
    In all (repeat: ALL) my years of inspecting ... I have NEVER, ever had such a problem.

    FA: I swear you have experienced some of the most strange things. I would expect to see/hear such from a newbie just out of class last week. You have more mileage than that unless you are just blessed with some strange agents and clients. If it is due to the agents/clients ... keep them in your world ... I don't want such headaches.


  18. #18
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
    Nolan Kienitz Guest

    Default Re: Courtesy calls to listing agents?

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    What is it with CSS ?? That has got to be one inept organization! The few times that I've come to the Metroplex and needed to use them -- it's like a 3 ring circus!!!
    Dunno ... I've never experienced any sort of problem with CSS ... save for the times the listing agent keeps a lock on scheduling "inspections" and then I have to chase that listing agent. One of the "very few" times I actually reach out to an agent. Usually I end up talking to a staffer in their office and seldom the actual agent ... which is fine with me.


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