BOISE, Idaho — More growing pains for the Treasure Valley. As one home inspector said because of the lack of regulations on his industry, anyone can say they're a professional at looking for damage in homes.
This can lead to unqualified people looking around your home, and they could then in turn miss something big.
This is what happened to Laura Stone and her fiancé. They bought their first home in Eagle, Idaho a little more than a year ago now.
“We finally closed on our home and super excited to be in,” Stone said.
That excitement faded as they came across a problem in their kitchen a month and a half later when they started on their first home improvement project together. What was expected to be a fun weekend project for the two, turned into something much worse.
“When we pulled out the dishwasher, there was some dry rot found and Brian, my fiancé, being very knowledgeable in the restoration industry, knew that wasn't a good sign,” Stone said. "Went through the crawl space and found this three by eight area of molding damaged boards."
After finding the damage, Stone said she reached back out to the real estate agent to see if insurance would cover it since it was missed in the home inspection. The realtor told her she knew the damage wouldn't be covered. Stone then asked how she knew that, and that is when the realtor disclosed the fact the home inspector she got for the job was also her boyfriend. Stone told KTVB this was the first time she found out about this relationship.
Moving forward, The couple said they were strapped for cash after buying the home, so they were forced to fix it themselves after thinking the home inspector or realtor couldn't be held liable because of the wording in the agreement they signed.
"It took us 42 days in total to get our home back to a livable situation,” Stone said. “Just very inconvenient, super stressful and disappointing.”
After spending more than a month working on the problem, she and her fiancé fixed it. Stone said it should've been caught in the home inspection she paid for prior to moving in though. She said she did some research and soon found out the industry isn’t regulated at all in Idaho.
“It's a very loose regulated industry and we felt like we were given no recourse,” she said. “Why would it not have higher standards, better regulations, especially when a home purchase doesn't get passed or does in those situations?”
This is where Randy Funk comes in. He is a home inspector and the president of the Idaho Association of Home Inspectors. He has worked in the Treasure Valley for a dozen years and said he’s inspected more than 15,000 homes.
A service he recently added to the association is a way for people to submit a complaint on an inspector. It asks the person for their general contact information, and then asks for the information on the inspector and real estate agent.
He said one of the problems with the industry right now in the state is the fact that it's not regulated at all.
“We're one of 13 states that has no licensing in place,” he said. “We know of two on the sexual predator list here in Idaho that are out doing home inspections and gaining access to homes with children and families.”
Funk puts some of the blame on some realtors, and the growth the area has seen in the last several years.
"So, if the agents two or three top options are busy, they usually go through a list or start calling around to get someone out there in time,” Funk said.
Funk added this isn't the case with all realtors. He said that usually realtors will recommend a few names to the buyer and then the buyer will be able to do their own research and select someone they think is right for the job. This isn't what happened with Stone though.
Stone said when she and her fiancé were ready to put an offer on the home in Eagle, the realtor asked them if they had a home inspector, and when the couple said no, the realtor explained to them she had the perfect guy for the job.
No questions were asked, and Stone and her fiancé never got the name of the inspector or met him.
Boise Regional Realtors said this sort of incident doesn't happen often. The president, Phil Mount, said he had never personally heard about realtors doing this.
"I’ve been a realtor for 10 years, and I'll tell you that's not the way I schedule home inspections,” Mount said.
Mount added that in his experience, he's always been able to get one of his recommend people to do the job. In a recent blog post, Boise Regional Realtors explained how realtor's should be recommending home inspectors to potential buyers. With that being said, Mount recommends the buyer do their homework like with any other purchase.
"Look at their credentials, have they been certified by their trade association, do they carry insurance for errors and omissions and that sort of thing as realtors do,” Mount said.
Its the same kind of homework Funk recommends every person do before they buy a house. This is something Stone wishes she could go back and do when she bought her home.
"Looking back there is just a lot of lessons learned,” she said.