Are you finding any cheese at the end of the tunnel?

This article is written by a colleague on the other side of the continent, but what he has to say is a universal truth.

N.B.; The home in the photo has a wet basement!

There have been dozens of posts about how to find a good home inspector.

I figure it is only fair to ask how one goes about finding a good real estate agent.

What is at the end of the tunnelI expect that both are equally difficult tasks.

Clearly a really good source to find a really good home inspector is likely going to be a really good agent.

Of course there are other things one can do to find a good inspector and I talked about some of these things in  a post the other day called “How to find a Seattle Home Inspector……..”  I think that most of those same things would apply to real estate agents, stagers, appraisers, or loan officers—really any profession.

Since home inspectors get to see 100’s of agents during the home inspection process, it stands to reason that Home Inspectors might be a pretty good source of referrals for people looking for a good agent.  While the home inspection is only one part of the home buying process—it is arguably a pretty important part of the equation, and buyers that are not taken care of in that part may not be taken care of in other aspects of the transaction as well.

It is the nature of the business that I get to see these 100’s of agents in action each year, and yet some of these agents act as if I am something that must be “put-up-with” as opposed to someone that is working FOR their client’s—our client’s—best interest.  The reality is that while they may perceive me as someone that is being “checked out,” they also are being “checked out,” as to whether they have any chance of being added to my very short list of agents that I would recommend a buyer use—if I was asked—and I do get asked occasionally.

I frequently am asked by agents that have never even worked with me for me to add them to that list—as if I should just be able to “assume” that they will provide superb service to a buyer.  I could no more make that leap, than an agent would assume that I was a good inspector because I have a nice business card.  We each have to earn that kind of trust.

I would suggest that part of a home buyer’s doing their homework would involve finding a home inspector long before they start looking at homes—perhaps even before they find an agent.  Certainly, not leaving the business of finding a home inspector until the witching hour is best.  Many times I have gotten those frantic last minute calls when the buyer tells me that their agent has informed them that they have 10 days, or 7 days, or 3 days to find an inspector and get the inspection done.  That seems hardly fair to the home buyer—or the whole process.

I see agents that are physically there, but that are totally “absent” emotionally and mentally.

I see agents that are angry and just want to move to closing and don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

I see agents that have somewhere else more important to be—as if it is my fault that they are going to be late for their massage, picking up the kids or getting to the green.

Secret AgentsMy short list of agents is filled with agents that could care less whether the buyer buys this particular house or not—they know the “right” house is out there somewhere and don’t reveal the slightest desire to have this particular house be the “right” house.

Secret AgentsThe agents on my short list have also apparently figured out how to weed out the houses that are going to get crushed by the inspection—crushed like some Carpenter Ant crawling out from behind the baseboard.  Occasionally I get to see that frustrated look on an agents face when another house bites the dust—as so often happens with short sales and foreclosures.  

When the buyer cannot afford anything but fixers in their price range, they are almost always going to end up disappointed.  It is almost always true, that if fixers are all that a buyer can afford, the likelihood that they will be able to afford to fix all of problems that come with these homes is about zero.

This scenario is a little bit like going down the same tunnel looking for the cheese even when you know it can never be there.  

This kind of hope is bad service for the buyer and bad for the result of getting to the closing that they claim they desire.

Secret AgentsThe agents on my short list are personable and tough.  They know how to go to bat for their clients without acting like they don’t know there is another agent on the other side of the deal that is doing the same for the seller.

Secret AgentsThe agents on my short list have no clue what desperation is—and if they do it is either a distant memory or hide it effectively enough to not let it interfere with the job they are there to do—to take care of the buyer.  

There are actually some agents that think that home inspectors kill deals.  And while it can happen, I don’t think agents have to look very far past their own mirrors to see what happened to the deal.

In those rare cases, and I want to stress that it does not happen very often, I wish I could say to the agent:  “If you don’t want the inspection report to make the house look like a piece of garbage don’t give me pieces of garbage to inspect.”

I also know that against the good advice of their agents, some buyers cannot be convinced that the 1902 post-and-pier house in their price range is going to be a waste of time to inspect.  These buyers have to learn the hard way, and the next thing I know I am inspecting a brand new town home for them—much better judgment in most cases—and arguably better coaching from their agent.

Secret AgentsThe agents on my short list let the process unfold naturally—as opposed to leaving everyone involved feeling like they have been micro-managed to death.  They know that “control” is highly overrated.

Secret AgentsThe agents on my short list absolutely love their job and it rubs off on every aspect of what they do—they instill confidence in all parties and are a joy to be around.  

So is there cheese at the end of the tunnel?

Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector  

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Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post