People Who Have No Right To Remain Silent
The Realtors may say, "I've been selling real estate for 10 years now and I've never seen it done this way before by asking the owner all these questions." They are talking out of ignorance!
Sometimes you'll find that the seller, the Realtor, or another third party won't want to answer any preinspection questions. Or a dishonest Realtor will tell the seller not to be home for the inspection appointment so they don't get involved in the inspection process. The Realtors may say something like, "I've been selling real estate for 10 years now and I've never seen it done this way before by asking the owner all these questions." They are talking out of ignorance! The reason they've never seen it done this way is they've never seen a good, thorough and knowledgeable home inspector before!!!
Also, some people rationalize their actions to a point where it just blows my mind. They are intentionally dishonest and lie to you by not saying anything and by not being home to answer your questions. I have done many inspections and appraisals where I encountered Realtors, sellers, and other third parties who intentionally tried to hide something from my client and any other potential buyers. Once I was checking the lower level of a house that was located on the side of a hill. In one corner there were some plywood boards leaning up against the foundation wall. I moved the boards to see what was behind them and I found serious structural cracks in the foundation wall. I was really angry about the seller's attempt to hide this. The house was located on a hill and with a serious structural crack like that, it could have cost someone their life!! What didn't surprise me is that I later learned the listing Realtor knew about the structural crack but, as usual, didn't tell any potential buyers about it. If you're in this business long enough, (and sometimes that only needs to be about a year), you'll get used to seeing how some Realtors will do anything to earn a sales commission.
Sellers and Realtors often don't tell home buyers about known problems with a house. They just keep quiet and hope the buyer's home inspector or appraiser don't detect the problems. They think it's a game of "hide and seek". Hide the known problems and it's the home inspector and/or appraiser's job to seek out and find them. Wrong - it doesn't work like that! That's not a nice game of hide and seek like your kids play. That's called FRAUD and you can go to jail for it!! I'll give you a few more examples that I've experienced. One was a client I had that was buying a house with an old, forced hot air heating system. A thin layer of asbestos insulation was on the air ducts and in the lining of the furnace. This creates a serious health hazard because the asbestos fibers are blown throughout the entire house. The dishonest Realtor never mentioned a word to my clients about this asbestos problem. As soon as I saw the asbestos during the inspection, I told the client about this health hazard. Suddenly the Realtor jumps into the conversation and says, "The owner already has found a contractor to remove the asbestos from the air ducts so the client doesn't need to worry about it. " When I asked the Realtor if the owner was going to have the asbestos in the livable rooms removed, she said, "there was no need to do that." It's so typical that the Realtor would say there's no need to do that. After all, the dishonest Realtor isn't going to be living in that house and breathing those asbestos fibers!
I did an inspection once and found severe rot and powder post beetle damage to the main girder beam and floor joists of a house. My awl went right through the main girder and floor joists while I was probing the beams in the crawl space. This beam, along with many of the floor joists, had to be replaced. Replacing a main girder beam is not easy since the house has to be lifted up with jacks to replace the beam. Moreover, on the exterior of the house I found most of the siding had buckled and had to be replaced. This siding damage was from water problems due to the lack of a roof overhang (soffit, fascia and eaves) on the house which was a design by some architect who thought it would be "unique" and "set the house apart". (Yeah, this "unique" design certainly "set the house apart". It was the only house around with all the siding destroyed from water drainage off the roof!). My client had to spend a lot of time and money on the home inspection and in getting repair estimates. Afterwards, my client found out that the seller and the Realtor had known about these problems BEFORE he home inspection. This immoral stunt is done all the time by dishonest Realtors and sellers. Another buyer had backed out of a prior offer on this house because these problems were detected by their home inspector. Had the dishonest Realtor and seller told my client the TRUTH, and not tried to hide the truth from him/her, then my client, along with all other potential buyers, could have gotten repair estimates from contractors first, and then decided if they wanted to continue with the deal. At that point, my client could have hired me to inspect the house and find any additional problem conditions that were not disclosed up-front to him/her and other potential buyers by the Realtor and seller. (I think once I saw in a dictionary this definition listed for the TRUTH - Something dishonest Realtors have a very, very difficult time dealing with, so they avoid it like the plague!)
I have done many inspections where I would find personal items intentionally placed by a third party to cover termite and water damage. Luckily I detected these problems so my clients didn't get hit with any surprises after they moved into the houses. However, since the third party never told me or my client about these problems and left it up to us to find them on our own with their little game of "hide and seek", then what is that called? Dishonest, Immoral, and Fraud!! Plain and simple.
Let's say the inspector and the client didn't happen to notice a problem condition that a third party to the deal knew existed but never told them about. How can that third party morally justify their actions by not mentioning the problem condition to the appraiser and/or the client? You can call it a business negotiating decision by the third party; you can call it a mistake that is the fault of the buyer's appraiser and/or home inspector; you can blame the buyer for not hiring a more thorough appraiser and/or home inspector; or you can call it good or bad luck. But no matter what you call it, and I don't care how you rationalize it, it has to be called one thing - DISHONEST! The third party person simply is not telling someone something they know that person should and would want to know about. Let alone the fact that they are legally required to disclose all known defects - unless they want to commit fraud! Whatever happened to the golden rule in today's world? "Do onto others as you would want others to do onto you." People should ask themselves: If I were buying this house, would I want the seller to tell me about this problem?
I'm using this example to make you realize there are dishonest and ignorant people out there that rationalize their unethical actions, which you probable already know. However, often people get too emotionally involved in the decision to buy or sell their home and this clouds their judgment. When that happens, they are more susceptible to being scammed or cheated by "smooth talking" salespeople and third parties in the deal. Often the same person who refuses to answer your questions, or doesn't tell you about a problem they know you should be informed about, is the same guy that brags how he goes to church every Sunday because he's such a good, ethical person in society. BALONEY!! They can't hide behind that excuse.
There is something that you might consider when you're dealing with a dishonest person like that. You might want to inform them that if something comes up after your client buys the house that they knew about, then your client can sue the seller, the Realtor, and other third parties. That's because you cannot intentionally hide a problem from anyone, whether you're the buyer or the seller. Just about all houses are sold in "As Is" condition. This doesn't mean that the seller has a license to steal, nor does it mean that the seller can commit fraud. A lot of people believe that an "As Is " sale means that the Realtors and sellers don't have to tell anyone about known problem conditions at the property. That's totally false! The old theory of "buyer beware " is no longer valid. When a house is sold in "As Is" condition, it means that the seller is required to disclose all known defects to the buyer and the buyer agrees to accept the house with those known problems. The seller doesn't have to be a home inspector, however, they do have to inform you about the problems they know about and they cannot hide them from you.
Realtors and some other third parties have a fiduciary responsibility to lay all the cards out on the table for the client, whether it is the buyer or the seller. They are required to disclose to the buyer and the seller any problem conditions that they know about. Since they're professionals in the real estate business, they are held to a higher standard than the public. As a result, they can be found liable for something they knew about, or that they should have known about, if they did not inform the buyer or seller about the problem condition.