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Reuben Saltzman

“I heard you’re a little psycho.”

I received quite the odd comment from a real estate agent the other day. After teaching a free CE class at a real estate office, one of the agents said to me as we were walking out together “That was a fantastic class. I heard you’re a little psycho though.” I gave her my warmest, hurt smile and said “Psycho? No.”

True StoryI didn’t have to wait long to find out what she meant by that; her next comment was “I’d like to use you guys, but I don’t want any deals blowing up.” Ah, there it is. By psycho, she meant I go crazy with my home inspections and scare the hell out of new home buyers. Sometimes home buyers even get so scared that they cancel the purchase agreement on a home after the inspection, all because I’m a psycho. Y’know, running around with arms flailing, screaming… all that jazz.

Without hesitation, I unapologetically told her “that can happen.” There are definitely deals that fall apart after our home inspections. Possibly even more so after our inspections than other home inspector’s inspections. I’m willing to accept that, and I’m fine with that. A large portion of our clients are people who have found us online, read our sample inspection report, read our online reviews, subscribe to my blog, and want someone who delivers the unbiased truth. They don’t want patsy home inspectors with poor eyesight and dull pencils. *

Delivering the unbiased truth

That’s really what this all comes down to. We don’t pussyfoot around serious issues by recommending further inspections and second opinions if we already know the answer. Those are political, time-wasting recommendations that many home inspectors make on a daily basis to keep their referral sources happy without having to expose themselves to liability. We’ve tried very hard to eliminate recommendations for further inspections and second opinions from our inspection reports. There are definitely situations that warrant further inspections, but those recommendations should always be made sparingly.

We inspect houses the same way we would for a close family member. Delivering the unbiased truth doesn’t get us referrals from real estate agents who are simply looking to have their deals close. Fortunately for me, the rest of my inspectors, and most home buyers here in Minnesota, I’ve found that most real estate agents aren’t simply looking to have deals close. They truly care about their clients and want them in good houses, or at least houses that aren’t filled with surprises. Most real estate agents want accurate inspections, even if that means that some deals “blow up”. The better agents are focused on what’s right for their client; not what’s going to help their pocketbook in the next month.

In short, I’m not a psycho. Not even a little. I am passionate about home inspections though, and so is everyone else on my team. We’re all genetically encoded to be home inspectors and it shows.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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* I stole the phrase “poor eyesight and dull pencils” from a home inspector in Chicago, Kurt Mitenbuler.

13 responses to ““I heard you’re a little psycho.””

  1. Kurt Mitenbuler
    May 2, 2017, 5:53 am

    Brilliant. We should all be so crazy.

    FTR, I stole that phrase from Mark Cramer in Florida. I’m not smart enough to think of that….:)

  2. John Klein
    May 2, 2017, 7:17 am

    Seems like the psycho is the real estate agent would would prefer to close on a defective home against her client’s best interests.

  3. Dan O
    May 2, 2017, 7:18 am

    I agree with your sentiment at the end. To me, the real estate agent is really saying “I care more about closing a deal (and making money) than getting my client the best information about the home they’re about to buy” That’s an agent I don’t want to do business with.

  4. Mark Parlee
    May 2, 2017, 8:03 am

    Great article Reuben

  5. Gregory A. Swartz
    May 2, 2017, 9:15 am

    Well said!

    I am glad to hear people standing up.
    Especially when it can cost you business… at least in the short term…

    As a speaker at a few home inspector meetings, I have heard this complaint time and again. Many bow down / cow down to the real estate agent, and a level of mediocrity sets in. The inspector performs the minimum to make the buyer (and agent) happy. The agent makes the sale. The inspector gets another referral… and life goes on.

    Except it’s the owner that loses out!

    As an electrical contractor, we do not work with many real estate agents for this very reason. The ones that call us seem to NOT want the unbiased truth. We work for them 1 time, and that’s it… or the “psycho” reputation precedes us.

    Our real customers love us though, and just like you, they find us online… due to our amazing reviews. Then they become repeat customers and raving fans.

    Thank you for your blog post. I intend to spread it out.
    (Any chance you mind me plagiarizing you? With permission, of course!)

    Thank you,
    Greg Swartz
    President, Swartz Electric

  6. Doug Zale
    May 2, 2017, 9:19 am

    Hello my ambition is to be that style of home inspector I have been studying for years now we are making the housing stock better quality as we go some day it will be mandatory to have a inspection thank you for setting the bar higher.

  7. bill
    May 2, 2017, 11:34 am

    Home inspections may be going the way of home appraisals for mortgages were a few decades ago.
    The appraiser would check with the agreed on price and the home would appraise appropriately.

    A couple years ago, a house was appraised for refinance and I was amazed at the detail that was used to back up the numbers.

  8. Jim Starr
    May 2, 2017, 11:45 am

    Love it- in the opposite way & meaning. Buyers pay to get a home inspected, and inspected well. Agents better understand that, probably know (if they are average + to at least good agents) what may/would be called during an inspection, and if they are great agents, they should know it or be pointing it out during a showing so yeah, I want a “psycho” inspector for my buyers, no other way for me. There is way too much financial commitment on the line post close, anything short of that is inspection pretending. The inspection ia an extension of not only the agent but the brokerage to a degree as well. Makes Structure Tech one of the if not the best in the Twin Cities.

  9. Steve
    May 2, 2017, 12:57 pm

    I had some agents who would say that I was getting a reputation of being a “Stickler”
    I think I would prefer crazy.
    I would ask them what should I leave out? No answer!

  10. A
    May 2, 2017, 2:11 pm

    I was burned (>$20K) due to a bad inspection because I did not know any better.

    The house I bought since I started reading your blog/FB page, was inspected by a company of my choosing, to a scope of my definition, and that $500 out of my pocket saved me thousands on repairs the seller performed.

    As far as being psycho, please keep on keeping on. Your FB photos have helped to educate homeowners all over the country, if not the world. Pretty wonderful commitment for a regional company with (apparently) no interest in expanding into the wilderness of New England.

  11. Jon
    May 2, 2017, 9:17 pm

    We were first time buyers and hired Kurt for our inspection (small world!). The seller’s agent pretty much made similar comments about the inspection (I think one was “Where did you find this guy?”).

    I looked at it as assurance that this is the worst it could get, so I knew what I was getting into (to some degree). So you either try to stay in business from agent referrals, or the other side of the coin which is buyers trying to hire as much of a “psycho” passionate home inspector they can find so they know they aren’t getting screwed as soon as the keys are handed over.

  12. Structural Sleuth
    May 12, 2017, 6:58 pm

    Great post! As a structural inspector, I too focus on the unbiased truth for the home buyer’s benefit. After all, our goal as inspectors is not to scare, but to inform the home buyer and even the realtor.

  13. E
    May 23, 2017, 9:46 pm

    Psycho? Nah. Thorough, sure.

    We bought a house that needs a pile of money to bring the fireplaces and chimneys up to snuff, has a driveway near the end of its useful life, and had lousy insulation. But you know what? We knew everything we needed to know when we bought it, and we went in with eyes open. That’s what a good inspection can do for a buyer.

    We hired you guys for our inspection because we bought a flipped house, and your blog post about the subject came up on a search. We got the most detailed, complete inspection our seller had ever seen… or so he said at the closing.

    Excellent blog post on one and a half story houses and insulation, too, by the way.

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