Actually the title could read, “We don’t need no dang agents.”
While it does not happen a lot—-whenever it does happen it is pretty much always painful.
Usually it is just the buyer that is going it alone and attempting to purchase the property without an agent. If there is an agent, the agent is representing both parties.
This is akin to “free-soloing” in the sport-climbing world—-and just about as short-sighted. In free-soloing there are no ropes and harnesses—-and no one has you on belay. You simply climb. You get to keep on living if you stay within your limits, you KNOW what you are doing and—some would say—-if you have a certain amount of luck. If you click on the picture of me on the top of Sahale Peak, it will take you to video of some climbers free-soloing. While the video is quite long, it should cure you of climbing “free-solo” within the first 30 seconds—-so don’t worry about having to watch the whole thing. I bet you get sucked in though.
I do not know the full story as to how my buyer and this seller came to meet (possibly a sport-climbing event?) or any spoken or written agreements they might have had between them. I do know that the whole deal fell apart in about 30 seconds before I even got to start my inspection—-I never even untied my ladder.
The inspection had started out like normal.
I explained my inspection protocol to the buyer and then headed for my vehicle to get my ladder. The seller then asked if they would be getting a copy of the report.
The Earth Stood Still.
The mountain began to shake.
The seller looked “hopefully” at me.
I looked, “pleading for help,” over at my buyer.
We all looked at each other—hoping someone would say something—-anything that would make everything “OK.”
The buyer finally said that if they did not buy the house they would like the seller to reimburse them for half the cost of the inspection.
My brain is really starting to hurt now—-and I am starting to picture myself watching TV with my sweetie instead of working on a report (always a silver lining).
All I could interject was that these kinds of details are not something I typically get involved with; and, that frankly the inspection and report are between the buyer and me—-what the buyer does with the report later is up to them. I also said that from what I understood, the seller usually does not see the report—-but only the parts that the buyer wants to negotiate. But again—-this is way out of my bailiwick—-thank-you-very-much!
The sellers even expected to be able to follow me through the inspection, along with the buyer, to learn everything first hand the way the buyer would be. I politely told them that the seller is typically not at the inspection so that the buyer and inspector can feel free to discuss whatever needs to be discussed related to what is discovered. Again, agents representing both sides would have sorted this all out so that the inspector was not involved. They would have acted like belay partners supporting the buyer and seller as they climbed Mt. Home.
Inspectors hate being forced to act like agents—-we have enough to do as it is—-and it is just plain NOT our job! After all, we are the ones that have to free-solo the roof and crawl space.
But at this point the seller is starting to dig in their heels and point out that the only reason they agreed to the inspection was under the presumption that they would be getting the report. Keep in mind that this house is not listed and the sellers are looking to find out what is wrong with the house in case the deal collapses so that they will know what to fix. (Can anyone say, “Pre-Listing Inspection?”)
In turn, my buyer is digging in their heels to the point that if the seller won’t agree to their terms then the whole deal is off.
Back at our cars, without the seller present, I tell my buyer that what had happened was an example of why it is such a good idea to have an agent as their belay partner. Agents handle all the politics of how the climb inspection gets done, and what is expected of each other. In this case the seller saw this as their inspection and the buyer saw it as their inspection, and there had never been any meeting of the minds over the issue.
Time to rope up—and climb safe!
I did get to relax and watch some TV.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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