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May 9, 2011 8:11AM

This article is incorrect.  I'm an architect and have NEVER done a job without detailed drawings and specs.  An architect's role is to ensure health and safety above all.  The design stuff is a bonus. 


Forego the architect and you can pretty much count on owning a "sick" building full of harmful materials and chemicals. 

May 9, 2011 8:10AM
Another important point (that I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned here) is to get an inspector that is NOT affiliated with the realestate agent. Please remember the agent is working for the seller, and if you get an inspector recommended by the agent, the inspector will be seller friendly and may purposely overlook or diminish defects present in the house. DO NOT use an inspector recommended by the realestate agent.
Sep 24, 2010 2:55PM
One more reason to love living in a small town... a contractor makes one serious mistake and EVERYONE knows.  He may as well start hunting another job b/c he won't get hired for something bigger than new cabinet door hinges again.  On the other side of it, you also know exactly who is good and stands behind their work, and it is much easier to get problems fixed. 
Sep 17, 2010 7:51PM


Jul 27, 2010 7:32AM

As with any potential business dealings out there right now consumers need to know what they are doing. That means lots of research. Why?


1. Inspectors: They do not have to be licensed (in my state) so they are really only liable for the fee that they receive. Look at your contract with them. May vary from company to company. My hair stylist has to have a license but not a home inspector? Make sure they are insured, as in getting copies of this information. The inspectors I use don't have a problem in giving this out. Call around and fact check. Ask for references.

2. Builders: Boy, this could take all day but I'll say the same above goes here too. Builders have to be licensed and insured. Check with the state license board. BBB is good if the builder is fairly large. Ask him or here for numbers of folks they have built for in the past. Call them up and pick their brains. Ask to come see the finished product. A builder's contract is mostly for his protection. Get a copy and get an attorney specializing in this area. Don't be afraid to ask questions and make changes to the contract or bring your own.  Lastly, I have found the best and most honorable builders are always busy and have waiting lines. If one is ready to go today and start building, be careful. Do the research. Don't be pressured by a Realtor or Builder that you have to do it now and buy now or the world will end! It won't.

3. Realtors: Yes, I'm one now for over 12 years and I have to say that I know a lot of scoundrels in the business of real estate, building and home inspectors. I have seen what they can do and you will have this in every type of business out there. Yeah, even lawyers (shocking yes?). I I live in a small town and I want to be able to  see you in the stores and church and not be ashamed of how I might have treated you during the buying process. I am going to be your neighbor and your friend. Our golden rule is the ONLY golden rule: Do unto other as you would have them do unto you. Sounds like I heard that before somewhere....hmmmmm.  I have been in situations where I have reduced my commission to make the deal happen. Sometimes a deal gets to the point where both are at an impasse. All I needed to do was reduce by a 1/2 percent or 1 percent to make it happen.  I may be chastised by the DIE HARDs out there but I made the deal close and was able to collect most of my check.....instead of nothing and losing a potential repeat customer on both sides. I have also said "No" when I felt like I was just being needled by a Seller who had other issues. Selling yourself is perfectly fine. But, you need to be educated. Again, an attorney can help here draft the contract to suit both parties. Homeowners looking to sell themselves should be prepared for this. Statistics can be shown both ways as to the savings a seller can make without the Realtor and I can show you the stats that shown I can make you more money.

When looking at a Realtor, do same kind of research, ASK-ASK-ASK! I can give you a list of past sellers and buyers that will offer insight to me and my services.


What does all this mean? It means that you as a Buyer or Seller of anything must take the time to do your home work. Realtors is this envorment will make more mistakes than we have every done before...all because we need that check more than ever. So I say this to my fellow realtors....don't be more than you're licensed to be. Don't be a home inspector, builder, foundation expert, roofer, plumber, framer or any of those. I don't have a problem telling someone " I don't know" when asked a question outside my field. But I will try and make an effort to find someone who will. Take the time to investigate properties and people. I think this works in about most of all other businesses or products you look at. Buying a home IS the biggest purchase most folks will ever make.  Be prepared.


Jul 27, 2010 5:00AM
Ive have ALWAYS thought the 6-8% commission these realtors get has kept many many Americans from owning a home.

Think about it, realtors get 7 grand from a $100,00 home!

Every realtor I have ever had did nothing I could not do, look at the home, the specs.. get rid of these people and make it more affordable!

Of course in todays oligarchy everyone is a rip off basically (this is the reason I buy little).  Contractors, banks etc  ALL CROOKS (OK 90%)

Homes are made like **** anymore because their are no morals, ethics...  crony capitalism does that.

Well America ,  this is what you wanted  a full blown plutocracy were 1% of mostly criminals own/stole everything..

Forefathers must be rolling..


Remember the more we know.. the LESS we need!

Jul 7, 2010 4:49PM

The entire business is corrupt and is, really, a joke (or would be if wasnt' so costly to folks). I was taken advantage of during the home inspection and ended up with problems that the inspector intentionally avoided mentioning, when I purchased a home in Northbrook, IL. Funny, the most important expenditure of your life and the process is just riddled with lies and deceptions. If our government ever wanted to really do something to help people, they would REGULATE this industry. They should start with imposing true building standards. Ah, like after a developer builds his little development a REAL inspection takes place, inspecting the IMPORTANT things like sewer lines, attics, insulation, fireplaces and overall build quality. Heck, I had a friend who built homes in Europe redo a bathroom floor. He said they (original builders) "built it wrong". He then proceeded to build the floor using concrete so that it would never squeak again. And it never has. It IS possible to build things right, just our US builders want to penny-pinch and nickel and dime.  Anything not visible, use the cheapest. It's too bad, what America could be verus what it became-- just a lot of marketing bs and smoke and mirrors.


Jul 6, 2010 12:53PM
I love how the 17 points fundamentally contradict themselves across the different professions. All of those potential problems with the contractor, when you hire an architect, it's part of their job to represent you and make sure corners aren't cut, that the project is built according to the way you expect it to be. (There are great contractors out there and more than likely, a local architect will know who the good ones are and who to avoid.)

If you hire a good architect, you will end up with a better design at the end of the day, period. If you don't care about design, then perhaps the big box free service is for you.

Author, good thing you found the expert on the value of the architectural profession, a communication consulting firm? 

(Fire the architect who tells you the he will make your project "flow" better, that's just a cheese ball statement, way to "think outside the box.")Eye-rolling

Jul 5, 2010 10:26PM

The most important person to hire in a real estate transaction is a reputable home inspector.

Jul 3, 2010 7:01AM

Part 2 of 2


"I know zilch about zoning." You got this one right. If and agent ever tells you anything like that, drop him/her like a hot potato and run! Real estate agents are bound in most areas by a strict code of ethics. They can and should be held accountable for their actions. An agent is responsible for knowing the zoning laws and local regulations in the area they are working in.


Home inspectors were partially discussed above. It is true they cannot inspect everything but a good qualified inspector will give you an overall idea of what is going on in the home. If you receive a 1 or 2 page report that is not well prepared and difficult to make sense of … perhaps it matches the quality of the inspection itself.


Contractors, builders, landscapers and architects are part of the real estate industry but are not regulated or controlled by the real estate industry. This is where it gets complicated and finding an agent that you trust is very important. Many buyers bounce from one agent to the next when looking for a home and never develop a relationship with “their” agent. It is that relationship that enables the agent and the buyer to work together. Be honest with your agent and let them know what you want and what you are willing to spend. Notice I did not say what you can afford. You need to know what you can afford and what you are willing to spend. Your agent only needs to know what you are willing to spend.


As in every trade there are good real estate agents that will work hard to help you achieve your goals. Unfortunately, there are also those that only want to sell you something, anything … get their commission and move on to the next. That is why the relationship is important. Demand the service you deserve! A little time spent developing that relationship will help you not only get the deal you are looking for but just may turn into a lifelong friendship as well.


Jul 3, 2010 7:00AM

Part 1 of 2


As a real estate professional I take offence to your opening comments along with several others in this article. Real estate professionals do not have any control over the licensing requirements or lack thereof for architects, builders or contractors. That is a state and local government issue. Home inspectors can ONLY report defects they can see. They cannot and should not remove carpet, drywall or otherwise disassemble or damage a home so they can inspect for hidden defects. The inspectors I use specifically look for leaky pipes, warped floor boards and other defects that a buyer should be aware of. The inspectors I use are typically not pest control professionals and disclose that fact. They recommend in writing that a pest control professional inspect for termites and other wood destroying organisms. The key is to find a competent and trustworthy inspector that knows what they are doing and knows how to spot defects that may have been covered up. You want an inspector that will do a thorough inspection and disclose what he/she finds in a clear and precise report. I have see inspectors spend 3 to 4 hours inspecting an average home and others that barley spend 45 minutes.


"My fees are negotiable" … Really? Do you negotiate the commission your insurance agent makes on your auto or homeowners policy? Do you negotiate the commission your car salesman makes on that shiny new car? Did you negotiate the commission your investment counselor makes on that stock you just purchased? Do you negotiate the fees you doctor charges for that 60 second flu shot? Do you negotiate the price you pay that tank of gas you just pumped into that shiny new car? Can we negotiate the wages writers make when they write inaccurate articles and fail to research the subject thoroughly before publishing their opinions? Can we negotiate the fees your company charges for the goods and/or services your company provides? A real estate commission is negotiated between the seller and the real estate agent/company at the time a property is listed. It is a fee for services and is only paid when and if a property sells. I welcome the day when our industry begins charging fees for services as they are rendered as most other professionals do.


“You can’t do this without me.” The article got this one partially right. You can sell your home yourself, If… If… If … If you price it right (this is a BIG one), If you know how to write a contract, If you understand disclosure, If you understand time limits in a contract, If you know the real estate process, If you can get the deal to the closing table, If you have the time and patience to do the above and more … much more. Oh, by the way … If you misrepresent any material facts along the way, you may just open yourself up for a lawsuit later on. That said, you can sell your home yourself. I did it 12 years before I ever held a real estate license. I sold my home for more than any other home in the neighborhood had ever sold for and it was not the biggest and best home on the block. I was able to do it because I had the time, did my research, prepared the home to sell, hired professionals where and when needed and did my homework. There is more to the process than putting up a sign and placing an ad on craigslist. Before you can sell your home you have to show it to prospective buyers. Who are you going to open your front door to and let walk through you home? Probably not just anyone that happens to call or drop by.

Jul 2, 2010 8:34PM
I was all into this article until the part about the Architect fees.  Maybe if people hired architects then they wouldn't have these problems.  But instead owners hire builders and then the builders hire subcontractors that may not be knowledgeable and then you end up with zero responsibility over your home.  They don't have drawings to go by and therefore no protection from the contractor.  So if you don't know about construction and your contractor messes up then you might be stuck with a crappy foundation, horribly insulated walls/roof driving up your energy costs, leaky roofs and windows that cause moisture/mold problems. 

If you hire an Architect, they provide you with drawings that are approved by the city building and zoning departments to ensure that your contractor does not remove any trees, does not build within a setback or over the required Floor Area Ratio.  The Architect's drawings will also convey all the details that the contractor is required to build to ensure that you have a safe home.  And if they don't build it correctly, the Architect/Contractor contract agreement will ensure that if your home is not built correctly then the contractor will be held financially responsible for all problems.  

Homeowner's please do your research, because Architect's fees might be surprisingly lower than you think, especially in this economy.  And if you are looking to sell that house in the future, it might not be worth it to skimp out on an architect.  
Jul 2, 2010 7:55PM
Some of this is true, but some is not.  I am a Realtor and I don't know any seller that doesn't know that the commission CAN BE negotiable.  If you are selling one house and buying another from the same broker, they most likely will reduce the commission.  I also don't know any local home inspectors that don't get on the roof to inspect it.  When purchasing new construction, most buyers don't take a Realtor with them - a mistake.  The builder works only for himself, never for you and they don't reduce the price of the home if you don't bring a Realtor to represent you so it is stupid not to be represented.   When reading articles online etc. remember that what is said is not always what goes on in your city or state. 
Jul 2, 2010 7:37PM
I've been in the business for 34 years and it's obvious to me that whoever wrote this article either does not know what they are talking about or did very little research.
Jul 2, 2010 7:25PM

OMG! I am up to number nine and I have to say to the author, you are cut off and give me the keys! I am not going any further! Did you mention meteors slamming into the house or run away satellites crashing through the roof? How about ICBM's blowing up your neighborhood? How about an uncharted sleeping volcano underneath your home? Sorry, but there are things that can happen that are pretty much left up to the act of God! Swelling soil? (By the way, that is out of the scope of a typical property inspector and requires a more qualified professional that will charge you much more) That is an inspection that can be conducted at the buyer's expense... In fact, how about I go ahead and list the available inspections, at the expense of the buyer... Note, drilling holes in someone's walls? As the listing agent, I will demand that the deposit be unrefundable no matter what, in case the buyer flakes.


General Home Inspection (Usually a good property inspector can save you a lot of $'s)

Wood Destroying Pest (Separate Report, TERMITE INSPECTOR)



Heating, Air Conditioning

Lead Paint


Square Footage




Lot Size





Septic System

Soil Stability




Water System and components

Radon Gas



Methane Gas



Public Records


Government Requirements


By the way, $200 for an appraisal? Where did you get that figure? Try doubling it!




Jul 2, 2010 6:41PM
NOTaLEFTISTweenie, you are my hero!
Jul 2, 2010 5:33PM
I can tell you all from personal experience, that you get what you pay for. If you want to hire a Realtor who is willing to cut their commission to handle your most valuable possession, you should think twice. Make sure you hire someone who knows their profession, has the experience, is knowledgeable and then PAY FOR IT. Don't try and save a buck with your life savings!
Jul 2, 2010 4:54PM
You people have posted this dribble before. I can tell you that as a Realtor liscensed by the state of California that 90% of this article is untrue and inaccurate. Inspectors do their jobs and we are required to disclose, disclose, disclose. The big problems are people that (thanks mostly to the internet) think they are investors or developers and can make a million overnight. Do your homework for a change.
Jul 2, 2010 4:25PM
overall, this series of "things" article is a joke.  as far as a new build goes, a good Realtor acts as your representative through out the building process.  they should have a schedule from the builder and should show up daily at the home and make sure things are being done right.  new build Realtors often have worked with a lot of the builders in their area and have developed a rapport with them, in the event of an issue, the builder is most likely to make it right with the client and the agent because he knows that the agent can and will use him again if he takes care of his clients.
Jul 2, 2010 4:15PM
zoning, that can be found on the county web site under a search of the property you are going to buy.  the agent looks at that site to get all the information prior to doing the listing presentation.  as well, the buyer should check themselves and get copies for their records.
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