DEAR BARRY: When I bought my home, my Realtor arranged for a home inspection. She had me write a check to the inspector but didn’t tell me when the inspection was to take place. So I missed the chance to attend. To make matters worse, the home inspector never gave me or my Realtor a report. I asked repeatedly for a report, but the agent put me off with some excuse about the inspector having marital problems. Finally, it was time to close escrow and she convinced me to let the inspection go and just buy the house.
After moving in, I kept finding problems, like leaky plumbing and outlets that didn’t work. So I hired another home inspector. He found a long list of problems, including a damaged foundation. I’ve tried complaining to my agent about all of this, but she doesn’t return my calls. What do you think about this situation, and what should I do? –Gloria
DEAR GLORIA: Any Realtor can make a professional mistake, but your agent seems to have gotten it wrong on every count: choosing an unqualified home inspector; leaving you out of the inspection process; dismissing your concerns about the home inspection report; allowing the deal to close without full disclosure of defects; and ignoring your concerns in the aftermath. A Realtor who treats clients with such callous disregard, with so little concern for professional ethics, should not be allowed to practice real estate.
A good agent would have recommended a competent, reliable home inspector with a proven track record of dependable performance. A good agent would have arranged for you to attend the home inspection and receive an oral review of the inspector’s findings. A good agent would have made sure that you received the inspection report and would not have ignored the inspector’s failure to produce one. When no report was forthcoming, a good agent would have arranged for another home inspection and would have demanded a refund from the first inspector. Above all, a good agent would never suggest that a client close escrow without full disclosure of defects. And a good agent would not fail to return phone calls from a concerned client.
Your mistake was not taking a stronger stand with your agent. You should not have allowed the deal to close when your concerns were being ignored. You had every right to receive a home inspection report, and it was the duty of your agent to represent your interests in that regard. When your requests for that report were not honored, it was time to stop the deal, to insist on another home inspection, and to demand another Realtor to represent you.
Now that the proverbial milk is spilt, it is time to assess the damages and address the issues. You’ll need estimates from reputable, licensed contractors to repair the defects in your home. If your agent won’t communicate with you directly, have an attorney forward those estimates, with a cover letter that will give her some sleepless nights. You should also file a complaint with the state agency that licenses real estate agents.
As for the home inspector who accepted payment without providing a report, he should tender a full refund or explain "why not" to a small claims judge.
To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.
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