The Agent has a Handyman


The agent has a handyman. How convenient is that!

No matter the problem, leaky roof, bad wiring, clogged drains, etc., the agent has the solution: the handyman, the guy who is uniquely unqualified to fix anything and can fix everything.

He’s a magic wand of sorts, the handyman, who has been waved over many a home inspection. When unsuspecting home buyers are faced with overwhelming concerns presented to them by the home inspector, and the transaction is circling the drain (pun intended), and all feels lost, the real estate agent has an ace in the hole: the handyman.

REALTOR Magic WandI have heard it with my own ears and seen it with my own eyes. Prospective home buyers are completely disheartened and emotionally withdrawn after I assault them with a steady barrage of news about cracks, stains, damage, and drips. The house needs to be re-roofed and re-piped, the water heater, the dishwasher, the fence, the fireplace, all lost. With a wave of the hand—more like a brushing-off motion— the real estate agent dismisses the near-tragic end of the transaction with one simple heaven-like response, “Oh, I have a handyman who can take care of all that, and he’s really cheap.”

It is at this moment when I, the home inspector, need to make an emergency exit from the home inspection, because I am about to be turned into a pumpkin. All of the assurances, all of the advice, all of the protections, and all of the “peace of mind” a professional home inspection is designed to provide is waved off. My recommendations for qualified specialists and licensed professionals to perform repairs are reduced to the clichéd boiler plate. For liability’s sake, I must refuse to be part of the subsequent discussion about how much money the handyman will save.

Now, in my career as a home inspector, I have actually seen real estate agents take this really bad idea, full of liability and contradiction, and make it completely unethical, also. “My husband is a handyman.” How about that! Make a little money on the side.

And the handyman, as magical as he is, will be magically invisible when his repairs fail.

Now, I don’t mean to insult good handymen at large. I believe in the competent and qualified handyman. I just never met one. As they always say, “A good handyman is hard to find.”

Almost inevitably, I will be called upon by the real estate agent to help the handyman. “Where did you find that roof leak? Which wires are wrong in the electric panel? What’s an air-gap device?” And then when he is finished, I will likely be called upon, again, to inspect his work. Neither will happen, which then, of course, leads to the dissatisfaction of both the agent and my clients. After not following my advice and being dissatisfied with the results, I will surely be to blame for not assuming the role as the handyman’s extended warranty plan.

When all of my advice is waved-off with magic, the assurances that my home inspection services provide will go with it. The agent has a handyman. How convenient is that?

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