The Communication Ball...How did it get dropped?

By
Home Inspector with Century 21 Executive Realty

Communication between Agent, Client, and Inspector is important.  I find that real estate agents have many different ways of communicating with the inspector, from the time that an inspection gets booked to the time that a report is in the hands of the client and their representative.  Communication with a home inspector is as important as with any other service provider of the real estate industry.

I am going to post past experiences that I have had in regards to the agent, client, inspector communication drop.  The purpose is to educate others on what could happen when communication is broken.  My office and I learn and try to make the inspection process as easy as possible.

CLIENT MAKES THE CALL to book inspection.  After answering a series of questions, the client is asked if they would like us to contact their agent to get access to the home.  The client says yes.  The buyer's agent is contacted by email and message left by phone.  Inspection is set in 2 days.  A message is left again for agent the next day.  The day before the inspection, client is contacted and told contact with their agent was unsuccessful and we do not have access to home for inspection.  Client calls agent, then calls us to let us know that sellers will be home to open door.  Next day, 15 minutes into the inspection, agent calls client, client hands phone to me, agent yells at me for making her look unprofessional to her client and that she had not received any notification of inspection or need to access the house.  She hangs up on me.  I hand the phone back to the client, and proceed with inspection.

AGENT MAKES CALL to book inspection.  When asked for client's contact information, agent says that they are from out of state and to work exclusively through her.  Agent says she will be attending inspection on behalf of her client, but will be running late, so gives my office access code.  She will also give client inspection amount and my address to send payment.  Day of inspection, payment had not been received, so I would talk to agent about it at inspection.  I do the inspection, and agent never shows up. Also, access to the attic is not available to me.  I upload report and send note to agent through invoice that inspection has not been paid and that access to attic not available.  Payment is received the next day.  Agent calls a few days later for re-inspection.  She was told that payment was received for original inspection.  Re-inspection was set up with fee to be paid at closing.  Few weeks later, client calls, out of the blue, and accuses us of double charging them for the original inspection.  Office has no idea what happened.  Client is outraged.  I contact agent, and she tells me that the original invoice was put in at closing as well as the re-inspection. She says that she was not informed that we were not paid for the original inspection. There was one check.  (Our office does not submit invoices for closing)  She told her clients that we were honest and would refund the clients money.  Before check from title is received, clients at my door wanting their money.  I write the check, apologize to them for the misunderstanding and say nothing.

I CALL agents that use me just to touch base on how things are going, especially in these slow times.  One agent in particular, used me a lot.  I had not heard from her in a while, so I thought we could chat for a bit about the market.  When I had her on the phone, we went through the formal niceties, and she hit me with; Why did you tell my clients on XXX Street that the house they were buying would fall in in 5 years?? You know, they backed out of that house, and your report didn't even indicate the issue as major!  After picking myself up off the floor, I asked her why she would think I would say something like that?  Her answer was, "My clients told me you did."  Thinking back, I remember that these clients were first time home owners, the house was an older, somewhat run down home, but no major problems.  Just some maintenance issues.  Why did they back out, I don't know.  Buyer's remorse?  Didn't like the home?  Too much to maintain an older home?  I knew it was not because of my report, or the words that I used.  I told the agent such, and she agreed that I had never scared any of her past clients.  But yet, I have not received another inspection from her.

So you see, COMMUNICATION is key in this relationship.  All three of the issues above could have been resolved if the phone had only been picked up and talking like professional inspectors, real estate agents, and clients.  

Make it a great day~

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