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Reuben Saltzman

Things Home Inspectors Should Never Say

For today’s episode, the gang talks from their own experiences about the things a professional home inspector should and shouldn’t say when dealing with clients. They discuss some of the language that should be avoided along with legal details and technicalities. Choosing an experienced home inspector can help guarantee not just their qualifications, but their experiential knowledge and expertise as well.

The show starts off with Reuben sharing the most cringe-worthy comment he heard while conducting a home inspection and his own biggest faux pas that he said during his home inspection training. He also mentions not to get involved in negotiations and that home inspectors shouldn’t be the ones to say who should do what. “As a home inspector, it is none of our business, and we should stay in our lane.” Home inspectors should only talk about the house they are inspecting.

Tessa explains why it is helpful not to be involved in negotiations and that you should always be cautious about what you say. She says that it is very important to not divulge unnecessary information during conversations, to not have phone calls with listing agents, and to always stay professional. She emphasizes that when a home inspector does an inspection, he should just report on the condition, defects, safety upgrades, and maintenance items. And just as Reuben said earlier, saying “who should do what”, “when it should be done,” “they should have been doing this,” or “they haven’t been doing this,” are opinion areas that inspectors should stay from.

Bill then asks the following issues:

  • What happens when there’s something just off the property that is glaringly obvious? Should an inspector comment on it in terms of things that aren’t actually part of this property but anybody with eyes can see? Should the inspector bring this up in conversation, either in the report or just verbally with the client?

  • Should an inspector comment about the personal possessions or the cosmetic things in the house being inspected?

  • Is it true that we shouldn’t say whether or not a house is family-friendly?

TRANSCRIPTION

The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Reuben Saltzman: I know I have learned the answer to that question Bill, but I have since forgotten. I can’t remember.

Bill Oelrich: Alright.

Tessa Murry: Reuben, that’s the first time I think I’ve ever heard you say you forgot something that you once heard.

[laughter]

RS: Oh man, I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff, Tess.

BO: Welcome everybody to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. As always, your leaning three-legged stool.

RS: Leaning? First we’re gonna get away from three-legged stool, now we’re a leaning three legged stool. Oh no.

BO: Yes. There’s been a lot of weight on us lately, and they were sitting on the side of it, so it’s kinda a little cattywampus right now, but we’ll get glued up and we’ll be back in shape in no time, so…

TM: Would we pass inspection?

BO: Well, does anything ever pass inspection? Especially with home inspectors in the room?

TM: Yeah, good point, good point.

BO: Well that leads us into today’s conversation, we wanna dive into some of the language that home inspectors probably shouldn’t use when they’re going through their inspections. And these are simple things that people might say that have a lot of reverberation through the clients and the real estate agents, and even if there’s some smart ears within the house, which frankly, or technically, is that even allowed? Can you record people who are inside your house?

RS: We’d have to get an attorney on. I could have told you at some point, I know I have learned the answer to that question, Bill, but I have since forgotten, I can’t remember.

BO: Alright.

TM: Reuben that’s the first time I think I’ve ever heard you say you forgot something that you once heard.

[laughter]

RS: Oh man, I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff Tess, and that is one of them for sure. I know it has come up, because we’ve had home inspectors on our team who were recorded, there have been situations where people got really freaked out. And I wanna say it is legal, but frankly I can’t remember.

BO: It might be legal to record it, I’m not sure that it’s admissible in a court of law, so there might be some law details or technicalities that get put together with these conversations. Because it feels like a trap, and maybe you go in and you have an honest conversation like, “We’re a third party, we’re an outside party to this transaction, we have no real stake in if this person buys a house or not”, and if they want us to have a candid conversation and then somebody is recording you to use your words against you at a later time, that’d be interesting to find out where those things end.

RS: Yeah.

BO: Let’s do this, Reuben, why don’t you tell me the most cringe-worthy comment you’ve heard while conducting home inspections, and you may have heard your own words, so feel free to throw yourself in front of the bus.

RS: Well, yeah and just so you know Bill the kids call it “cringy”, that’s a word, “cringy”. That’s what the kids are calling it. That’s what my kids say.

BO: So “cringe-worthy” is dated.

RS: Yeah. Yeah, sometimes even about me, it has happened.

[laughter]

RS: It’s terrible.

BO: I can’t imagine.

RS: Not often, but every once in a while, I get that look, “Dad, that’s so cringy”.

BO: Perfect.

RS: I’ll share with you one of the… Probably my biggest faux pas, something that I said during a home inspection that I shouldn’t have. This was way back in the day when I was training with my dad, I had been doing this for a month or two or something, I don’t know how long, and you know, the training process at Structure Tech at the time was not quite as formal as it is today, it was more like, “Let’s go and you follow me around”, and that was about it. So there was a house where… And I still remember, this was on Westwood Lane in St. Louis Park, and I remember who the agent was, and I remember there was a whirlpool tub that was not working, you’d hit the button and it just kinda make… It’d make this buzzing noise.

RS: And it’s not that it wouldn’t prime, it was just it was toast, it didn’t work. And the buyers were… They were really frustrated, they’re like, “Well, we needed a working whirlpool, and that’s important to us”, and I said, “Well, yeah, in that case, you should ask the sellers to fix it, you know, if that’s supposed to be working”, and oh my goodness was that agent furious. And I don’t think she said anything at the time of the inspection, I don’t think she was even there, I think it just got back to her what I had told the buyers, and yeah that was bad news. What it comes down to is, as the home inspector, don’t get involved in negotiations, don’t say who should do what. That is none of your business. Stay in your lane, talk about the house. I could have said “The whirlpool is not working, and if you want it fixed, you’re gonna have to get it fixed”, I could leave it at that, but saying who should do it, now I’m going outside my lane.

BO: So any time you start a sentence with “The seller should… ” you might wanna reel that back in as quickly as possible.

RS: Yeah, totally. And I think there’s a lot of things that somebody could recommend the seller do that starts exactly like that, Bill. And I can’t really think of any that would be acceptable. Can you guys?

BO: Just one.

RS: What’s that?

BO: They should clean the litter box.

[laughter]

BO: I mean that’s just a helpful temp to kinda keep your indoor air quality as high as possible.

RS: But even that. I mean, no, it’s like you’re making a judgment, you’re going in there and you’re saying that they are not a clean enough person, and you’re making kind of a value judgment about how often these litter boxes should be cleaned, and that’s none of our business. What about a dirty furnace filter? Should you say the seller should change the furnace filter more often?

TM: No.

RS: Why not Tess?

TM: I just say, “It’s dirty, it needs to be changed, it needs to be clean.”

RS: Why not? Why can’t you say that the seller should do it? Why?

TM: I try to leave any sort of judgment or blame out of it when I’m inspecting a house, like remove the people from it and just look at it as a house and the systems in the house.

RS: Well put. What about asking a seller to do things, like “Oh, you should ask the seller to replace that furnace filter before you move in”?

TM: Oh, gosh, that’s a no, no too. Yeah, like you said, it’s important to just to stay in our lane, and it’s our job to come in there to inspect the house, present the facts. Report on the condition, defects, safety upgrades, maintenance items, but when it comes to, like you said before, who should do what, when they should do it, they should have been doing this, they haven’t been doing this, that’s kind of a gray area that we really try to stay out of.

RS: You ever have a situation where you said something dumb that you wish you wouldn’t have said, Tess?

TM: Gosh. As you were talking I was thinking back, and I think when I was hired on… When was it? Almost five years ago now, I had a little bit more, I’d say, formal training than you had, Reuben, but I think that our team did a really good job of sharing their own personal stories, just like your cringy stories of what they said and why they shouldn’t have said it, to me, when I went through training, so that was super helpful. I’ve always been really cautious about what I say to somebody and what I don’t say.

TM: But that aside, there have been some instances where I’ve had sellers or seller’s agents that have contacted me after an inspection and wanting information. Yes, wanting information about how the inspection went. I think I’m a fairly kind person, and caring, and so I had one agent, a seller’s agent, who called me, asked me how the inspection went. I basically said “Everything went smoothly, the buyers were there”, not sharing any information but just being kind and just letting her know everything is completed, they’ll be getting a report, blah, blah, blah. And she proceeded to kind of tell me what a pain the buyers had been at that point, and the details of the conversation kind of have faded from now, but I remember just listening to her for about 15 or 20 minutes, just listening to her, how upset she was with the buyers and how their agent had been conducting everything and the whole situation, and I just listened to her. Then, Reuben, do you remember what happened next? I think you got a phone call.

RS: I remember, Tess, I got involved in this one. I knew where you were going with this.

TM: No, no, you take it. You take it from there.

RS: It was the buyer’s agent ended up having a conversation with the seller’s agent who talked to you, and keep in mind, you didn’t divulge anything, all you did was listen and say, “That must be frustrating. I see.” That’s what you did for 15 minutes, and Tess, this was a call that… Now, we didn’t tell anybody this, alright, we never use this against people, this is for our own records, but I had that conversation recorded, Tess. Because all of the calls that come through our office get recorded. And in Minnesota, if you’re outside of Minnesota, you’re listening, this is legal in Minnesota as long as one party knows that the call is being recorded, it’s legal for us to record conversations. And so, to date, never used any of this against anyone, it’s just for our own edification, but I listened to that whole conversation, and Tessa you were perfect. You didn’t divulge a single piece of information throughout that whole conversation, yet it got back to the buyer’s agent that these buyers were a huge pain in the butt and you thought so too, and you didn’t like the buyers and they were being completely unreasonable and that you disagreed with all of this stuff that the buyers were asking for, and that you thought it was ridiculous, and the house was perfectly fine. All of this ended up getting back to the buyer’s agent.

TM: ‘Cause the seller’s agent told her. The seller’s agent said, “This is what the inspector said.”

RS: Yes, yes, exactly. And so then that person called me up, didn’t call you to verify, they just called me and ripped my head off, telling me how furious they were with you, and basically what a horrible person you are. And I’m stuck. I’m like, “I’ve got nothing to say.” All I can do is do what you did to the listing agent, all I can do is listen. I didn’t apologize for any of it, ’cause I only know one side of the story. I said, “This is all news to me, I will look into it.” And I remember I got on the phone with you right away, and we had no apologies to make. And we made it very clear that there was nothing to apologize for, that we were 100% above the line on this. We didn’t divulge a single detail. And I don’t know that that agent ever apologized.

TM: Well, you know what’s interesting though, I did end up talking to the seller’s agent after this complaint came in, and just let her know that the buyer’s agent was really, really upset with me. And the seller’s agent basically was just profusely apologizing to me, saying, “Oh my gosh,” and she was a new agent, and she realized that she said things she shouldn’t have said and got me in trouble and felt really bad about it, and so she sent some really long apologetic emails to the buyer’s agent, and the buyer’s agent was still really mad. But I will tell you this, Reuben, that buyer’s agent has since requested me on inspections. So even though she never offered a formal apology I think she realizes that we didn’t do anything wrong and that we’re actually a really good company and have good customer service, good quality inspections.

RS: That’s awesome.

TM: I think she’s been in attendance in some of our online CE classes that we’ve offered and she’s sent us communications over those too, so I think she’s in our corner now. But that was…

RS: That’s pretty cool.

TM: But that was traumatic for me. And the takeaway from that, for anybody that’s listening, if you’re a home inspector, the take away from that is, you know what, it’s probably not a good idea to have a phone call with the listing agent. [chuckle] No matter how nice they are, no matter… Whatever. If they call you just state the fact, “I can’t be disclosing any of this information to you,” and get off the phone as quickly as you can. Be professional, be nice, but get off the phone. That’s kind of what I learned from that.

RS: Should we role play that? Should we try it?

TM: Yeah, I’ll be the listing agent. You wanna be the inspector?

RS: Oh, I was gonna be the listing agent but no, let’s do it. Let’s try it.

TM: Okay.

RS: You be tough, Tess. You be tough.

TM: Okay. I will. Ring ring.

RS: Hey. This is Reuben. How’s it going?

TM: Hey, Reuben. I am the listing agent at blah, blah, blah, and I just wanted to know how everything went today. My sellers were really anxious, and they’ve lived in this property for 30 years, they love it. How did everything go today?

RS: Oh, the inspection went very well. Thank you.

TM: Gosh, well, I know that there was a challenge with the furnace earlier, our clients had someone come out and service it. Did you see anything wrong with it?

RS: You know, I’m gonna have to get back to the buyers about that. You are more than welcome to ask them about that, but I’m gonna send them a report tonight. It’s all gonna be in there and I will let them know that you asked about it. I’ll be sure to let them know.

TM: Okay, okay. Well, you know what, thank you so much. And I guess, if you’ve got any questions… Or do you have any questions or concerns for me? Anything that you saw today in the house that you need clarification on?

RS: You are letting me off the hook so easy, Tess. I’m breaking character, but you’re letting me off so easy.

[laughter]

RS: I was ready for you to drill on that question like five more times. You’re too nice.

TM: Okay. I am too nice. Maybe we should have switched it around and you should have been the real estate agent and I should be the agent.

RS: Yeah, we made our point, but people will do that. And they will demand answers, and it is so tough to… You gotta be this Minnesota nice. You gotta be nice to people, but at the same time not answer their question. And it feels rude, but you just gotta kinda say what you can do. You keep shrugging it off.

BO: Is Minnesota nice a thing?

RS: Well, on the surface.

[laughter]

TM: That’s the key part there, “on the surface.”

RS: There’s Minnesota passive aggressive. We always joke that whenever people say “interesting,” we don’t mean interesting.

[laughter]

BO: I just always kinda cut to the chase with those people and say, “Listen, I can’t tell you anything. It’ll all come out eventually, but your house looked great, solid piece of property, but I’m gonna defer all questions over to the other side.”

RS: Bill, that could be used against you. I’m sorry to say that, but what you just said… And actually, those words, I could hear the listing agent telling the buyer’s agent, “The inspector said it’s a solid, good property, and you’re asking for all these things. You’re out of line requesting these fixes. The inspector said it was a good, solid house.”

RS: Yes, it is so tempting to do that…

TM: It is.

RS: We wanna be nice, but you can’t say the house looked great.

TM: Yeah.

BO: Yeah, but you can call it beautiful. “Oh, it’s a nice property.” You can say whatever you wanna say. And if somebody’s gonna use those words against me, that’s fine. I didn’t give you anything, and I highly doubt that my name’s coming up in their negotiations. And when line 10…

TM: It’s happened to me, Bill. That’s all I’m saying. It’s happened to me and I… Yeah, I do not say that anymore.

RS: Yeah, there was another home inspector, he didn’t work for Structure Tech but he was a guy who… He’d come along on inspections with me about once every six months, he’s since retired but… And he’d call me with questions all the time, really nice guy, and I remember him saying one time… He had said something almost exactly like what you said, Bill. He had just told them, “Yeah, the inspection went very well and… ” I can’t remember what else he said, “There was no big concerns,” or something like that, and they took it as the house was perfect. And he got in so much hot water and he said, “Reuben, the only thing I will ever respond to in the future is ‘The inspection went as well as could have been expected.'” That is all he will ever give people from now on. And I thought to myself, “You’re being paranoid,” but as you experience more and more of these things, I start to think, “Well, maybe he’s not being paranoid.” It is tough to not put yourself in a position where someone is going to get mad at you. There’s too much emotion around this transaction.

TM: Yeah. The best thing to do is just limit your conversations with anybody that is not your client. [laughter]

RS: Yeah, yeah.

TM: If you’re hired by a buyer to inspect a house, talk directly to the buyer. If the listing agent calls you, if the sellers are there, do as little communication as professionally possible.

BO: I get where you’re going with that, but that just seems like it doesn’t fulfill a human need…

TM: I agree, Bill.

BO: Especially when we’re communicating. I just need something to walk away from this conversation not feeling like I have to ask more questions. And to me, it’s more about connecting, and if you do… You can say anything to anybody, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, and…

TM: Things get misconstrued, I think, a lot…

BO: Sure they can. Sure they can.

TM: I agree with you. I want to, a lot of times, if the inspection went well and if the seller is home and they’re super nice, you wanna be reassuring to them. You wanna make them feel like everything’s gonna be okay, but you know what, that’s not our place. We’re there to inspect the house for different people, and they’re the ones purchasing our services, and they’re our clients. And so I’m not saying to be rude or ignore their needs, but it’s really… It’s kind of crossing that line. You can have difficult situations arise if you try to please people that are not your clients in that situation.

BO: Oh, yeah. I agree. I’m not talking about pleasing them, I’m just trying to get off their phone without them thinking or using me being somewhat concise or short against me. That’s all I’m talking about.

RS: Yeah.

BO: Just trying to move on with my day as quickly as possible without making you feel bad, and…

RS: I’ll tell you, after having had that conversation probably about 100 times, what I’ve found works, the best way I can do that, I can say it with a big smile, “Oh, the inspection went really well.” I can say it and I feel like I’m saying it in a warm fashion, I’m smiling as I said it, I mean it, the inspection went well. I’m not saying a thing about the house though. I’m definitely not answering their question in any way, shape or form. It’s my stock answer, and if it ever comes back to me, “Well, you told them this.” I say, “I never say that. I say the same thing every time”, and I can stand behind that.

BO: So you don’t answer their question with an answer or another question? Like, “Was there always a hole in your second bedroom in the ceiling?”

[laughter]

RS: I may have been known to do that once or twice. Yeah, they get a little squirmy.

BO: Yeah, but this stuff, this language stuff, goes beyond the seller and the selling agent side too, even commenting on cosmetic things in the house can get the buyer side riled up.

RS: Oh my goodness, yes. And that’s something that home inspectors should just stay away from entirely. There’s so many things when it comes to cosmetics. I remember there was one deal where an agent set my dad up, and if I could find the video footage for this podcast I’ll put a link to it. I probably won’t find it, so don’t keep your fingers crossed. But the house was pink on the inside, it was like bright neon pink or something like that throughout the whole inside. You walk in and it’s a punch in the face. And the buyers and their agent just couldn’t believe it. They hated it, but they liked the house, so they’re buying it. And so, this agent recorded my dad when he walked in the house to get his reaction. [chuckle]

TM: Oh, no.

RS: ‘Cause she just… They thought it was just a riot, and so they were recording him as he walked in. And my dad walks in and he had a pretty good poker face. He just kinda walked in, he looked around, he looked up at the ceiling, he looked all around, raised his eyebrows, nodded…

[chuckle]

RS: “Hmm.” And then he “Hi, my name… ” I mean, he was such a good poker face, and it wasn’t 100% perfect, but just, “Okay, alright, moving on, being professional.” There is… Yeah. So, he did a really good job, but the agent was just dying as she was recording him. So, I think he passed that test with flying colors. But bottom line, yeah, paint colors, wallpaper choices, any of that, decoration, all that stuff is totally off-limits for the home inspector. Don’t talk about it.

TM: Don’t comment on the shag carpet that’s in pristine condition from the 1970s. [chuckle]

RS: Yes.

TM: Yeah, it’s difficult sometimes. You’re trying to connect with your clients, if your buyer’s there and they’re commenting on those things it’s really easy to get sucked into that conversation.

RS: Well, what if you have shag carpet on the ceiling, Tessa? Would that be worthy of a comment?

[chuckle]

TM: Please, post that picture in the show notes, put a link to it. Yeah, we just an inspector, this is hilarious, Jeff posted a really creative picture of a ceiling with shag carpet on it.

RS: Yes, well I may have to sit on that one for about a year. The house is too easily identified, and whenever it’s something like that and it’s not really a home inspection thing, I don’t want someone getting mad, saying we shared their house. So, yeah.

TM: Yeah, it’s probably a good idea.

RS: Might be a year before I share that photo.

BO: Not that there’s anything wrong. But what that is, is that’s a Zoom room now, and it’s a response to the COVID-19, and that’s where they can go have very clear conversations with outstanding equipment on all those Zoom meetings.

RS: Oh, you know, Bill, that’s interesting. Really interesting.

TM: Good point.

BO: I let those guys off the hook, totally. Hey, let me ask you about a different situation, ’cause this was something that we’ve seen first-hand in the last probably week or 10 days. What happens when there’s something just off the property that is so obvious, should an inspector comment on it in terms of… We’re talking about things not to bring up or not to say, but how about things that aren’t actually part of this property but anybody with eyes can see them? Should you bring this up in conversation, either in the report or with the client?

RS: I’m assuming that you’re talking about being across the street from a really rowdy bar, and you know that the cops get called there all the time, and it’s right across the street. Is that what you’re talking about, Bill?

BO: Something like that, or maybe there’s a freeway that is a stone’s throw from your backyard, or something that would be… You would assume is in conversation already between the buyer’s agent and the buyer. Maybe there’s a train track, maybe there’s a light rail. People in Southwest Minneapolis are gonna be going through that now, they’ve got the LRT moving through there. Are those conversations that should be talked about from an inspection standpoint?

RS: I say heck no, absolutely not. I don’t feel like this is grey area. That is not what I am there to do as the home inspector. I’m not there to tell them what a freeway is and why it matters. I’m not gonna talk about overhead flight patterns for planes, I’m not gonna talk about train tracks and what they mean, and, “Hey, these are train tracks. Trains travel along them and they can make noise.” I’m not gonna say anything like that during a home inspection. And sorry, Tessa, maybe I answered that too emphatically. I didn’t really give you the room to disagree with me. I’m sorry.

TM: Well, no, I agree too. And actually, I was thinking two other things that have come up for me. Flight patterns, airplanes, when we’re inspecting close to the airport and you hear that plane traffic all the time. And then another one I’ve been asked about before too is overhead power lines. That’s something that we would talk about or be concerned about. EMF stuff, which we had a podcast about that a little while ago. That is beyond our scope.

RS: Yes.

BO: Is there a clear and present danger with these kinds of things? ‘Cause to me, if there was, it wouldn’t be there in the first place, or the house wouldn’t have been built underneath the power line or next to the freeway or across from the rowdy bar, whatever it may be.

TM: I love that logic, but I don’t know if I’m that optimistic. As science develops and as we learn more and more things, something that didn’t use to be a concern might be a concern now. We just didn’t know it. Just ignorance, like for instance, people used to play with mercury in science class back in the 50s. Now you don’t touch that stuff, it’s toxic. So I don’t know. The podcast we did with Eco Shaylee was really fascinating and it kinda changed my perspective on some things, so I can’t answer that question, Bill. What we know today might be different 10 years from now, five years from now, 100 years from now, I don’t know.

BO: Well, one thing’s for certain that you never comment about, and this is never, never, never, never: Personal possessions. That is some serious danger you’re walking into right there, because you just never know who you’re gonna ruffle in that.

RS: And it’s none of your business. You are in somebody’s house, you don’t say anything about it. Off-limits.

TM: Definitely. You know what? Back to what we were talking about at the very beginning, when we’re training inspectors we always tell them, “Just assume that there is a camera or recording device in this house when you’re inspecting it. Just assume that, that you’re being listened to, that you’re being watched. And don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want the seller to hear.” [chuckle]

BO: Yeah, I remember a situation where we had to deal with… There was a client who was actually talking negatively about a certain neighborhood, and we didn’t actively engage, but I don’t know if there was some affirmative… There was something that was thought to have been out of balance, and we ended up having… I don’t think we had to apologize, but I had to take a call from the client who started the conversation and then said, “Well, you shouldn’t have said that about this neighborhood.” And it was really… We’re splitting hairs here, there wasn’t anything egregious that went down, but it’s all perception. You end up apologizing for things that… You’re like, “Okay, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that that happened.”

TM: Yeah. I was in a situation, I was doing an inspection for a young, single woman who was moving here from… I think she was moving here from Denver. She was a teacher, and she was looking at buying a house in a specific neighborhood here in the Twin Cities area, one that is, I think, known for higher rates of crime and that sort of thing. She really didn’t know about that, and she was asking me questions about the neighborhood and about safety and about those sorts of things. It was really difficult, but I had to step around that conversation and tell her, “That’s something that I don’t know about and I can’t really tell you about. That’s why you have a real state agent, is to help you… ” Well, and actually, I guess real estate agents can’t real tell their clients about that either. That’s something that she needs to research on her own. Yeah, and that’s a tough one, and I think when you’re doing inspections for people that are moving from a different state or different area and they don’t know, they’re looking for answers, but we can’t answer those.

RS: We had Rhonda Wilson on the show… It feels like it wasn’t that long ago, but I swear she was in the studio, so that had to be…

TM: Over a year ago, probably.

RS: Yeah, it was probably about a year ago, something like that. And we talked about fair housing with her for a while. That was fascinating. And she talked about all the stuff that, as a real estate agent, they can’t say to their client. She can’t talk about crime statistics, I think she can’t even talk about certain compositions of neighborhoods, what was it, it was either schools or churches or something that might lead people to believe that there’s more families. Just stuff that you would have no idea.

BO: Yeah, what she was talking about is you can’t advertise that it’s family-friendly or…

RS: That’s it.

TM: Right, that’s right.

RS: You can’t use the word “family”, right?

BO: I defer that question to Rhonda.

RS: We’re outside our lane now. It was a great podcast, let’s put it that way. It was enlightening for us. But we as home inspectors ought to try to follow those same rules. Don’t comment on it, it’s none of our business, it’s not part of what we’re there to do, and we’re just throwing our opinion around at that point. We have no expertise in that matter.

BO: I have a question for those questions. Is that important to you?

TM: Yeah.

BO: [chuckle] I can’t answer, I’m moving on.

RS: Can we try it?

TM: You know what was really ironic? That young, single woman, the school teacher who was looking at that house, she did not follow me around for the whole thing. She showed up at the beginning, but she was inside, just measuring and imagining where she’s gonna put furniture, and while I was on the exterior… [chuckle] This is was a morning inspection, something went down literally a block away, and there was about 10 cop cars that showed up and raided a house [chuckle] during the inspection.

BO: Wow.

TM: And she missed all of it. She missed the whole thing, ’cause she was inside. If she would’ve just stuck with me she would’ve been able to answer her question, but…

RS: I wouldn’t have been able to help myself, Tess. I would have been outside or something and I would’ve recorded something about the house. I’d take my camera and I’d record the sidewalk and be like, “There’s some trip hazards here,” and I would definitely have had all those police cars in the scene, and just made it unintentional. I think I would have.

TM: That’s smart. Yeah, I should have done that but I didn’t. She ended up walking away from that house anyways. There were were a lot of repairs she wasn’t considering, and so she didn’t end up buying that one, but…

BO: Well, as you can tell, sometimes you end up balancing a lot more than you think you’re going to in these equations. It’d be nice if you could just go in, look at all the features, look at everything that you need to do your home inspection, go write your report, go on with your day, but people are curious creatures and they’re always looking for an edge. So, anytime they spot somebody who might give them an edge, they’re gonna try to question them a little bit. It’s fun, it keeps you on your toes. And one thing’s for sure, we’re always learning, and we get to learn from other people’s mistakes and our own. So we try to communicate as many things as we can to as many people and ask, “Have you run into anything that we need to know about? Because I wanna learn from your mistakes.”

TM: Little nuggets of wisdom. Hopefully, someone listening to this can take away and not make the same mistakes that we’ve made. [chuckle]

BO: Yeah. You’ve been listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. Thanks for listening and we’ll catch you next time.