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Whistle-blower points to home inspection shortcomings

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Guest | 03 Dec 2013, 07:18 PM Agree 0

Bruce McClure is a licensed home inspector in Kitchener, Ont. with 15 years of experience under his belt. In a new book entitled Buy or Run: I’m a Real Home Inspector, Not a TV Celebrity, he pulls no punches in addressing some of the major issues affecting the home inspection industry.
“The number one issue is the fact that the Realtors are running the industry,” McClure said in an exclusive interview with CREW Online.
In an industry rife with competition, real estate agents are driven to complete sales and stay ahead of the pack. But if the inspector they hire doesn’t toe the party line, they are not afraid to drop them without a moment’s notice.
“The real estate agents are the ones who have the first line of contact with the clients, and in a large percentage of the cases, they’re concerned about home inspectors that will turn a blind eye to things in order to protect their sale,” says McClure. “And the home inspector knows that if he blows a couple of deals, they’re going to put him aside and go with another inspector.”
One of the other issues inspectors face is qualification. Many inspectors may claim they are qualified for the job, but may actually lack the proper certification, resulting in precarious situations for homeowners. As a result, at least one provincial government has formed a committee to ensure that inspectors receive the proper certification before entering the market. McClure is hopeful real change will result.
“The Ontario government’s Ministry of Consumer Services struck a committee to look into the licensing of home inspectors,” he said. “That committee has done their work, and will present their report tomorrow. They will then put the licensing in place.”
 
More from the CREW archives on home inspection.
  • Richard St-Pierre | 05 Dec 2013, 01:21 PM Agree 0
    I agree with him on both points. I am an investor who obtained a certificate as home inspector (non-practicing) to allow me to better asses my investments; I never take suggestions from my realtor on who to use for inspection for that same reason. While taking my inspection courses, I've met over one hundred future home inspectors - I would not hire most of them...You have ask prospects many questions to qualify them and you may use a different inspector for one type / age of property versus another...
  • scott | 05 Dec 2013, 01:34 PM Agree 0
    There are unscrupulous Realtors, just as there are Home Inspectors. Fortunately the ethical outweigh the un-ethical in both professions. A Realtor should not be hiring the inspector at all as this gentleman suggests. The inspection is for the benefit of the buyer and the Realtor should be providing his buyer with a list of local inspectors for the buyer to contact, question and ultimately select to his own satisfaction. At the end of the day if the Realtor has done anything to breach his responsibility to the buyer, he could ultimately pay a higher price than the commission that was received in a court awarded settlement.
  • Valerie Edwards | 05 Dec 2013, 01:43 PM Agree 0
    Any reputable REALTOR would want the facts of the property revealed to their clients. However, if an inspector doesn't know how to communicate issues with the appropriate level of concern (blowing out of proportion smaller maintenance items), then yes a building inspector will be dropped because they are unnecessarily causing fear in a buyer who is an inexperienced home owner.
  • Bill Winkels | 05 Dec 2013, 02:08 PM Agree 0
    I disagree with Mr. McClure, maybe in his experiences but not mine or within the circle of Realtors I associate with. I have been a full time Real Estate Sales Representative for the past 23 years and if a home inspector ever turned a blind eye to some problem he will never used again. Remember I'm representing the interests of my client and I want that client for life, along with their family and friends, not just for one sale which would be the case if things are not disclosed. So it's very important to me & my client to know everything positive & negative about that property, that why they hire a professional home inspector in the first place. If items are identified as problems we can discuss them and come up with strategies to have the problems resolved or move onto another property. So I as a Real Estate Professional and I don't use that word lightly take exception that Mr. McClure in around about way is saying Realtors are unethical. Not true in this case.
  • Jeff Gingerich | 05 Dec 2013, 03:28 PM Agree 0
    Career-oriented Realtors do what's best for the client. If the deal blows up over the home inspection, we find them another home.
    The real estate agents that McClure refers to will find themselves in the crosshairs of our governing body, The Real Estate Council of Ontario. To suggest a large percentage of real estate agents are asking home inspectors to turn a blind eye to deficiencies is ridiculous. It appears Mr. McClure is simply grandstanding in an effort to rebuild his home inspection business after a hiatus as, of all things, a Realtor.
  • Bill Winkels | 05 Dec 2013, 03:41 PM Agree 0
    I disagree with Mr. McClure, maybe in his experiences but not mine or within the circle of Realtors I associate with. I have been a full time Real Estate Sales Representative for the past 23 years and if a home inspector ever turned a blind eye to some problem he will never used again. Remember I'm representing the interests of my client and I want that client for life, along with their family and friends, not just for one sale which would be the case if things are not disclosed. So it's very important to me & my client to know everything positive & negative about that property, that why they hire a professional home inspector in the first place. If items are identified as problems we can discuss them and come up with strategies to have the problems resolved or move onto another property. So I as a Real Estate Professional and I don't use that word lightly take exception that Mr. McClure in around about way is saying Realtors are unethical. Not true in this case.
  • Lana715 | 05 Dec 2013, 05:02 PM Agree 0
    This is untrue and very misleading. We do not hire the inspectors and are always looking out for our clients best interests ALWAYS. Not sure how this is done in Kitchener Ontario, but this is not how our business is run. If the clients do not know of a Home Inspector we can suggest a couple of companies but let the clients choose who to use. We always advise them to make sure of the inspectors qualifications and certification. Realtors who behave like Bruce is claiming are the ones who give the industry a bad name.
  • Shala Ashtari | 05 Dec 2013, 05:13 PM Agree 0
    You are absolutely wrong about real estate agents. There are so many unqualified inspector that will ruin our deal with lack of knowledge of the building. I have lost two Buyers because of them this year.
    We work so hard for many months and find a right home for our client and within three hours inspection we loose it.
    Please, please, don't judge the realtors, we work hard for our client and our business is based on referrals.

    Shala
  • Angela Malejczuk | 05 Dec 2013, 05:22 PM Agree 0
    What a terrible point of view. I for one, as a realtor welcome and in fact wish that I find an inspector who will find serious issues. Having a buyer back away from a transaction if they are not comfortable is just good business, and by the way, that decision is the buyer's decision and not the realtor's or the home inspectors. It is a very individual thing. "Helping" a buyer to back off if they don't feel right builds loyalty, referrals, repeat business and avoids a future listing that has a serious defect. Be careful in painting we realtors as such "self serving" idiots!
  • Eduard Novak | 05 Dec 2013, 06:16 PM Agree 0
    If that is how Bruce feels, maybe he should find an alternative industry to work in? This is a pretty nasty article that paints ALL realtors as greedy, unethical, unprefessional individuals. I am a licensed REALTOR. I, personally, would prefer an inspector conduct a thorough inspections and inform my clients of ALL issues. This way (a) my clients feel confident about a property that they are buying, and (b) I am protected against surprises after closing. I find that there are plenty of inspectors who wouldn't see a hole in the roof even if a shingle fell on their head. Just a couple of months ago, my clients and I were in a bidding competition for a particular property that had been built about 100 years ago. All 5 competing agents ordered inspection. ONLY 2 inspectors found moisture behind the drywall in the basement. With today's technology and the ability to see "behind walls", these are pretty appalling statistics. This is why, while insisting that my clients always obtain inspections, I always include a disclaimer: Inspectors are only human. Nothing is guaranteed.

    Maybe Bruce is having issues with realtors because they are not happy with him? And I don't mean that he kills deals. Every story has three sides - yours, mine and what really happened.
  • Denise | 08 Dec 2013, 03:37 PM Agree 0
    In BC, home inspectors wont go into the attic, the crawlspace or onto the roof! They suggest U get 3 more inspectors to look into those problems.........meanwhile they charge as much as inspectors out east, that do the whole job themselves!
    What rip off artists >>>>> I dont need someone to check how many of the electric outlets work cus I can do that myself!
  • E Edwards | 08 Dec 2013, 04:02 PM Agree 0
    this author deserves an award,for being so honest and true,
    keep blowing that whistle.
    after being in the industry for over 30 yrs.he is telling it as it is.
  • Van | 08 Dec 2013, 04:06 PM Agree 0
    After being in renovation business for over 20 years I have come across some inspectors that where pretty thorough about their work and few where questionable as for realtors the ones I have worked with would perfer the inspector be thorough and honest up front even if it kills a deal as one said already the realtor can find another property for their client + if the buyers run into problems it will reflect back on the realtor and their reputation believe I seen it happen!
  • OmerQuenneville | 08 Dec 2013, 04:19 PM Agree 0
    While I agree the real estate agent is the first line of defense, I don't know a realtor that wouldn't rather have a deal blow over destroying someone's life or family with a hidden costly defeat. I have sold plenty of dilapidated properties over the years and we get them at a good price but a good price can only be if the client knows exactly what is he buying without surprises. While any industry has weak points, building inspections isnt one of them for the real estate industry.
  • Wes Smith | 08 Dec 2013, 04:55 PM Agree 0
    Some building inspectors in my area have told me that certain REALTORS® put pressure on them for a "good report" - which I find shocking. And as a REALTOR®, I have had building inspectors seem like they are trying to appease me by giving a sugar-coated building inspection. So the ethical issues are on both sides.

    However, I wasn't my clients to know EXACTLY what they are buying. If issues come up they can be negotiated with the home owner and/or repaired under contract if important.

    I generally prefer the same 3 or 4 home inspectors in my area - because i know that will do a thorough job and will not sugar-coat anything for my clients. As I like to tell both buyer and seller clients. "It is what it is".

    I have found that most building inspectors and REALTORS® in my area are ethical and have their client's best interests at heart. There are a few bad seeds out there - as there are in any industry.
  • Mark Walker | 08 Dec 2013, 08:16 PM Agree 0
    This guy is a clown trying to gain a "little fame". There is absolutely no reason to hate on a T.V stars while trying to make yourself stand out. The fact he was a Realtor and quit makes me question his integrity when speaking about realtors.
    Real Estate sales is largely a referral business... So any recommendation I make to a buyer MUST be GOOD or I risk loosing a client/friend.
    The one thing I know for sure is... With the amount of home inspections realtors attend, WE ARE CERTAINLY QUALIFIED TO SPOT A POOR HOME INSPECTOR. And BTW a poor inspector is a blind inspector, I want every possible problem identified. PERIOD
  • Leon Tucciarone | 09 Dec 2013, 04:10 PM Agree 0
    I've been a licensed Realtor and Mortgage Agent for over 26 years. In a highly regulated profession such as Real Estate, with governing bodies that have teeth and power to fine and enforce prosecution......there's not as many bad apples around as you would think. At least not within the top 10% that do 90% of the business anyway. Those pros would not likely jeaprodize their reputation. Clients are repeat customers and referred from past hapoy clients. It is rediculous to suggest the professional Realtor would jeapridize carrer over one deal when all that is needed is to remedy the problems found in an inspection as part of the renegotiation or find the buyer another home.
    The real issue here is that the Home Inspection Industry is a young industry and poorly regulated as a consequence. They have a long way to go. That means there are plenty of poorly trained, inexperienced inspectors with virtually little to no oversight.....that present defects or concerns in an alarmist manner that "blow" deals. I've had many transactions occur where Engineers and other professionals had to be involved to prove the "home inspector" was incorrect.
    Sounds to me like this guy is just trying a marketing ploy to get some attention and boost his business.
  • Bob Metcalf | 09 Dec 2013, 07:35 PM Agree 0
    As a recently retired Realtor, it is amazing to reflect on the inspections I attended over the years. If an inspector misses or sugar coats an item, it was me who would not get the repeat business. Inspectors are also amazing because they have NO consequence for their report. Find something missing after moving in? An inspector doesn't have to 'make it right' or address the issue any other way.
  • mikes | 10 Dec 2013, 12:29 AM Agree 0
    Those who can't do, teach....or in this case, write a book
  • Cathy Bradford | 10 Dec 2013, 02:06 PM Agree 0
    Like in all professions, there are those who should not be in the business, Sales Representatives, whose objective is to close a deal instead of looking after the best interests of their clients and incompetent home inspectors. To make a general statement slamming realtors could loose you some business Mr. McClure. The consumer needs us, real estate sales people and the home inspector to give them the information they need to make an informed decision. I have been in this business over 25 years and have met both poor real estate people and home inspectors. We are not an issue, as you state. And yes, we are the life line for our clients to sell and buy real estate.
  • Cathy Bradford | 10 Dec 2013, 02:09 PM Agree 0
    Like in all professions, there are those who should not be in the business, Sales Representatives, whose objective is to close a deal instead of looking after the best interests of their clients and incompetent home inspectors. To make a general statement slamming realtors could loose you some business Mr. McClure. The consumer needs us, real estate sales people and the home inspector to give them the information they need to make an informed decision. I have been in this business over 25 years and have met both poor real estate people and home inspectors. We are not an issue, as you state. And yes, we are the life line for our clients to sell and buy real estate.
  • Stephan | 10 Dec 2013, 07:58 PM Agree 0
    This is typical rhetoric from the "Registered Home Inspector" camp. He bought into the RHI lies and paid a fortune for a designation that means nothing. Not so much whistle blowing as it is sour grapes. "Mike Holmes is the reason my business is failing!" And "Realtors aren't picking me because I'm too good!" are the final words of a failing Home Inspector.

    Here's my advice to him:

    Take more courses
    Offer a Warranty
    Offer Thermal with the inspection
    Provide a quality digital report with pictures
    Treat Realtors and clients with respect
    Take a course on how to run a small business
    Stop relying on the RHI designation to create business. It means nothing.

    Time for this guy to blame himself, then pack it in.

    Signed:

    An Real, Successful, Honest Home Inspector
    Tecumseh, ON
    www.NorthernInspectionGroup.com
  • Stuart Harrison, P.Eng | 11 Dec 2013, 08:16 AM Agree 0
    Here's my take on the realtor home inspector relationship..cloes notes version--if a realtor is taking the long view then they are going to hire a good inspector that takes care of their clients!

    http://thehelpfulhomeinspector.ca/realtor%20referrals.html
  • Larry Cunliffe | 11 Dec 2013, 02:22 PM Agree 0
    I agree with my colleagues in that we are only looking to protect the interests of our clients, which is why we were hired in the first place!
    Mr McClure seems to be getting good press - he was interviewed on the radio in our city - which suggests that sensational head lines will grab someone's attention but once the article is read, most will see it for what it is - negative criticism for the sake of selling his book!
    Perhaps if he were to inject some objectivity in to his 'analysis' and look at it from the buyer's perspective he may see the world of home buying differently. AND maybe gain a little more satisfaction with his chosen profession!
  • C. Smith | 11 Dec 2013, 05:36 PM Agree 0
    I was just at an inspection and the inspector noted that the knobs were missing on two electric baseboard heaters. He then proceeded to tell the buyer that this would cost "hundreds and hundreds of dollars" to fix. I was shocked. The sellers went to Home Depot and purchased the knobs for $1.99 each and the starting price to replace the exact same model was $49.95. The information the inspector relayed to the buyer was incorrect and scared the daylights out of them. This is a prime example of an unqualified inspector saying something to a first time buyer, that he did not have the knowledge to speak about. We as realtors always refer a min of three trusted qualified inspectors to our buyers and they choose the one they feel they can work with.
  • C. Smith | 11 Dec 2013, 05:37 PM Agree 0
    I was just at an inspection and the inspector noted that the knobs were missing on two electric baseboard heaters. He then proceeded to tell the buyer that this would cost "hundreds and hundreds of dollars" to fix. I was shocked. The sellers went to Home Depot and purchased the knobs for $1.99 each and the starting price to replace the exact same model was $49.95. The information the inspector relayed to the buyer was incorrect and scared the daylights out of them. This is a prime example of an unqualified inspector saying something to a first time buyer, that he did not have the knowledge to speak about. We as realtors always refer a min of three trusted qualified inspectors to our buyers and they choose the one they feel they can work with.
  • Mark Ellison | 11 Dec 2013, 11:30 PM Agree 0
    I've had the pleasure of working with professional, ethical Realtors for 8 years. I believe the shady agent is more myth than reality. Easily 90% of the agents I've worked with share my loyalty to the client. These are the agents that refer me because of a COMMON high standard. Agents with a low standard never call me back. My work ethic quickly filters them out.
    Sadly Mr. McClure appears to have had a lesser experience and is now bitter.
    I do agree however, that the current Ontario "model" is not working. Consumers are not protected as well as they could be. Unfortunately licensing will only create a minimal level of competency that I fear will still be under par. The illusion will be that all licensee's are equally educated/experiences.
  • Dawn Goodridge | 12 Dec 2013, 11:19 AM Agree 0
    Our goal as Realtors is to have "clients for life". If we have an inspector pass a faulty house, we lose those clients and the subsequent referrals for other clients. Many of my clients have their own inspectors anyway, I don't find I'm recommending anyone in particular anymore. I do check out the inspector to make sure he/she is insured though! If not, I will advise against that inspector quite strongly because the buyer can sue me but not the inspector if something goes wrong and that's not right!
  • Dawn Goodridge | 12 Dec 2013, 11:19 AM Agree 0
    Our goal as Realtors is to have "clients for life". If we have an inspector pass a faulty house, we lose those clients and the subsequent referrals for other clients. Many of my clients have their own inspectors anyway, I don't find I'm recommending anyone in particular anymore. I do check out the inspector to make sure he/she is insured though! If not, I will advise against that inspector quite strongly because the buyer can sue me but not the inspector if something goes wrong and that's not right!
  • Len Inkster | 15 Dec 2013, 03:18 PM Agree 0
    Licensing in Ontario will set a bar that levels the playing field. It is not popular with many inspectors because the costs to run an inspection business is likely to climb. The upside is that many inspectors who are not professionally minded will be forced out of the profession. At the same time RECO, the governing body in Ontario for Realtors will, I believe, demand their realtors refer ONLY Licensed Inspectors. If they don't then they are failing their clients.
    I have had the pleasure to meet Mr McClure and I seen his book as more of a marketing exercise than a professional redress.
    As for my own experience, for every one, short-term minded Realtor who does operate in the way the book suggests there are another 15-20 who operate professionally.
    If a book was to be written about Home Inspectors, the ratio would not be as favourable, and if the same thing was applied to renovators, contractors and roofers, then we would really see where the problem with houses lie.
  • Liz Koster | 16 Dec 2013, 12:24 PM Agree 0
    As a Realtor, I want to ensure that my clients know what they are buying. All the facts are important. I rely on my clients for repeat business and referrals and would never jeopardize their home purchase or our relationship. And yes, I have dropped a lot of home inspectors. Mostly because they are either not qualified, speak about subjects they are not educated in, and/or create a lot of drama instead of communicating the facts in a professional manner. Almost everything can be fixed. And it is not the home inspectors job to give his opinions (educated or not) or try to encourage or deter clients from buying a home.
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