Make Cents

February 25, 2006 · Print This Article

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionThose of you who read my posts generally know my business philosophy of paying out for any compliant, whether valid or not, up to a point of course. When you do a lot of inspections the addresses and clients are mostly vague memories so when you get the question, “do you remember the job you did at such and such, for Mr. & Mrs. blankety blank about 3 or 4 months ago?”

Well, I got that question as I was getting out of my car from the realtor, who happens to be by the way, one of my better sources of referrals. One of the reasons he uses/recommends me is that he knows I’ll take care of his clients without question. What I mean is, without “PROBING” questions.

Here’s why probing questions are out, and it’s a funny thing. When you start to question, you’re mind, unknown to you, is really just trying to justify why you shouldn’t be held responsible for the yuckety yuck problem. And in asking the probing questions your voice betrays you by sounding a bit indignant.

Questions with this tone, and its not one you can easily refrain from, also puts the realtor who brought up the questionable oversight on the defensive. What you really want is them to feel relaxed with the impression that they’re helping you with your relationships. i.e. (your customer base, and don’t forget the realtor is part of your customer base).

To combat this unconscious indignant tone and to put the realtor at ease I say, in an upbeat or apolegetic way, “So what did I miss?”. Thereby taking the position that whatever the problem is that comes out of his mouth is my fault, and the questions that I ask are ones geared to fix the condition while assuring him that the bill can be sent to me.

Whatever you do, make sure to thank the realtor for bringing this to your attention. I try not to offer any assitance in resolving the matter outside of an offer to pay, as quite often I’m never contacted for payment and I’ve still made good on my word to take care of any compliants.

So to get to the meat of this post, in being so ready to take responsibility with just a vague memory of the property, I had just agreed to fix the sellers problem. Turns out the realtor was the listing agent and the seller was renting back the property. When they were fixing to disconnect the washer at move out but the valve was stuck open. They complained to their listing realtor (the realtor in question) that the home inspector should have caught the condition so they shouldn’t be responsible because after all, it wasn’t their house anymore. Now, doesn’t that make sense?

I know, I know, there’s lots of good reasons why this shouldn’t be my problem and that just goes to show you why you shouldn’t go down that bumpy road with your voice betraying your real feelings all the while souring your relationship with the realtor.

You’ve got to know what the lifetime value of a good realtor is, so that this all makes cents. Yes I mean “cents”. Last year I performed over 30 inspections for this realtor at approx $300 each or $9,000 dollars worth of gross income. To make him feel any other way than that of helping me when he presents his sellers dilemma would be foolhardy at best.

My only problem now is to figure out how to get a wavier & release form signed by my client to make the payout. Company policy is never to payout without a signed wavier & release. Had I know from the start before I agreed to pay, whom I was paying, I could have at least requested that my client make the request. Now that it’s akward, by that, I mean to go back to the realtor to explian all of this, I’ll probably let it go and just pay the seller.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.


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