Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Importance of Vetting Home Inspectors

Be an invaluable resource for your community, and add a new revenue stream, by creating a directory of local home inspectors.

Home inspections are an essential part of the real estate business. Both the buyer and the seller rely on a qualified and honest inspector to ensure that the deal goes off without a hitch. However, that isn’t always the case. Inspectors have been blamed, both justifiably and otherwise, for numerous sale derailments and unhappy purchases. Recently, Inman News’ Barry Stone — resident advice columnist, home inspector and founder of California’s Action Home Inspection Service — was asked the question, “Can I trust my home inspector?”

The question came about after an eager homebuyer hired a professional inspector, who he felt didn’t do a thorough job. When the inspector failed to show proof of his American Society of Home Inspectors membership, the buyer began to feel duped. This distrust was later echoed in another question, when a seller questioned the trustworthiness of a buyer’s inspector, who claimed the presence of lead and asbestos in a house without offering any proof. In both cases, Stone recommended thoroughly investigating an inspector’s credentials prior to hiring him for the job. He suggested checking accredited sources and databases, like the ASHI’s association website (www.ashi.com), to see if the inspector is listed.

It boils down to the simple fact that it’s important to get a reliable home inspector. First-time homebuyers, however, likely don’t know where to go to find one. While certain Realtors® have preferred home inspectors, many organizations warn against using an agent-preferred inspector, primarily because it’s a conflict of interest. Agents work on a commission structure, which is roughly 6 percent, on average, of the selling price. Their final paycheck is contingent on the sale of the home. The higher the price tag, the more they make. So, it’s up to buyers and sellers to do the legwork. But that’s where you come in. Why not help buyers, sellers and agents alike by offering advice on vetting home inspectors. MSN Real Estate offered the following tips on how to find the best home investigator.

1. Don’t let a state license or certification fool you. Jim Turner, certified home inspector in Southern California, told MSN Real Estate that all states require some form of training, however, “the training may be so minimal that it is ineffective.”

2. Check associations and organizations. Professional association affiliation can help weed out the “fly-by-night” inspectors, though it won’t catch all of them. Groups such as NAHI, the National Institute of Building Inspectors and the ASHI are amongst the most reputable inspector associations, and each have a “Find an Inspector” option on their websites.

3. How to trust a real estate agent’s recommendation. As previously mentioned, an agent’s recommendation can come across as a conflict of interest. However, you don’t want to neglect their obvious experience and knowledge of the subject. Tell homebuyers to ask for multiple recommendations from their agents, somewhere between three and five. Also, ask Realtors® the tough questions, like, “Would you hire any of these inspectors to inspect your or your family’s homes?” and “Who is the deal-killer in this area?”

4. Interview with the Inspector. After an inspector has been thoroughly investigated — by examining his résumé and accreditations — a homebuyer should check for complaints. They can call the state licensing board (or, whatever organization oversees inspector licenses) and ask if the inspector is active, up-to-date and if there have been any complaints made against him. Finally, a homebuyer should set up an interview with the inspector, where they can review the résumé and ask the important questions, “Do you carry errors and omissions insurance?” and “Do you offer a guarantee?” MSN also recommends that buyers request the inspection report in a narrative-style report and, if possible, invite themselves on a ride-along, accompanying the inspector while he’s examining another house.

Take it a step further and offer a detailed directory of home inspectors. This directory should be complete with accreditations, reviews, bios and a brief résumé. This gives the newspaper the opportunity to do what they do best: investigate, interview and offer an invaluable tool for your community.  You’ll offer your readers a way to save time, and give you a new moneymaking opportunity. This directory is the perfect place for sponsorships and additional ads.