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Barry Stone: Agent rejects buyer’s home inspector

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DEAR BARRY: When we bought our home, our agent was displeased with our choice of home inspector and convinced us to use someone else. Now that we own the house, problems that were not disclosed to us have been costing us a lot of money, and we're sorry we didn't stick with our original choice.

The inspector we had wanted has a reputation for being detail oriented, but we did not hire him because our agent said he was an alarmist. Now we're stuck making expensive repairs and hope you might warn other buyers who might make the same mistake we did.

— Hal

DEAR HAL: For an agent to dissuade buyers from hiring their preferred inspector is a foolish, risky and unethical practice. When an agent labels a home inspector as “an alarmist,” that agent’s motives immediately become suspect. Some of the best home inspectors in the profession, those who are highly detailed and thorough, have been unfairly labeled in this way: some as “deal killers,” some as “deal breakers” and some as “alarmists.”

The National Association of Realtors advises agents to provide a list of qualified inspectors and to let buyers make their own choice. This advice is intended to limit agents’ liability.

All home inspectors, regardless of experience or qualifications, make occasional errors or omissions in their reports. For this reason, many agents avoid recommending any particular home inspector, because they don’t want to be liable if the inspector makes a mistake. By interfering with your preference, your agent may have incurred significant liability.

If you were now to hire the home inspector you had wanted to hire in the first place, it would be interesting to see what additional undisclosed problems might be reported. It also would be interesting to deliver a copy of that report to your agent and to the agent’s broker, particularly if significant defects are discovered.

DEAR BARRY: My bathroom ceiling has a built-in electric heater. When the fixture is turned on and runs for about 45 seconds, it lets loose with a loud snapping sound. This only occurs when the room is very cold, usually in the early morning. If I turn it on later in the day, it does not make that sound. The house is only 18 months old, and the builder has been unable to find the cause of the problem. What does this sound like to you?

— Ronald

DEAR RONALD: The snapping sound may be caused by uneven expansion of metal parts inside the heater as the fixture is becoming hot. Metal components expand when heated and contract when they become cool. When the heater is operated on a cold morning, expansion is likely to be more pronounced than during the day, when the ambient temperature is moderate. Metal parts that are closest to the heating element will expand sooner than other parts of the fixture, and stresses may develop where these parts are attached to one another. Movements at these connections may account for the snapping sounds you hear. Nevertheless, ask the builder to replace the fixture, just to be on the safe side.

To write to Barry Stone, go to www.housedetective.com .

ACTION COAST PUBLISHING

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