Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education
Published: January 29, 2019
These days, in most cases, a home inspection is necessary at the time of sale. In fact, more than 90 percent of buyers have a home inspection so they know exactly what they are buying. A good inspection report tells buyers and sellers precisely the condition of the house at the time of writing. A well-written report will direct an owner, buyer, or seller to any action that is required to bring a house up to good condition relevant to its age.
Sellers are also learning the value of a home inspection before the sale. A good inspection tells them what they are really selling and can help overcome the surprise of being asked for concessions at close.
As a real estate agent, you should advise your clients to have a home inspection done.
Clients Turn to Real Estate Agents for Help
Most buyers and sellers, however, do not have a list of home inspectors on tap. After all, they are not frequent home buyers or sellers, and they are often new to your area. Therefore, they will turn to their real estate agent for help.
Real estate agents should always maintain a list of qualified home inspectors. Often, inspectors are in high demand. Knowing more than one means that clients have choices if availability is an issue. In addition, different types of clients will expect different things from a home inspector, so it’s good to have a well-rounded group of home inspectors whenever possible.
A good rule of thumb is to be able to give clients the contact information for three home inspection companies and let the client choose. Be careful, however, not to show favoritism to one home inspector or recommend one with too much enthusiasm because that has caused legal issues for agents in the past.
As a new agent, you might not know any home inspectors. You can start by asking other agents, perhaps in your brokerage. Be sure you don’t just accept their recommendations blindly—research them thoroughly and be open to investigating others on your own.
What to Look for in a Home Inspector
To start with, all home inspectors you recommend should be ASHI certified. They should also have a good reputation, business longevity, and be able to produce testimonials from agents or buyers who have used their services. But don’t stop there.
Just as you represent the voice of either a home buyer or a home seller during a real estate transaction, you can think of the home inspector as the voice of the house. Therefore, you should look for home inspectors who are experts in understanding exactly what is happening to the house at the time of the inspection. A good home inspector will have a solid grounding in all of the elements and systems of a home. (You can learn about five specific skills a home inspector must have here.)
Buyers are likely to be worried and somewhat out of their element during the inspection. Therefore, you want to recommend home inspectors who can communicate what they’ve found in a way that buyers can understand. At times, buyers can perceive something as a bigger issue than it really is. Therefore, if the home inspector is calm, it can keep the buyers calm. At the same time, the home inspector should not sugarcoat major concerns and should state if experts or contractors are needed. Their role is to offer guidance and recommendations. If you’d like more details on these specific traits of a good home inspector, you can find them here.
The home inspector should also be able to meet ASHI standards and any specific state mandates for the inspection report. This is where the advice of seasoned real estate agents in your brokerage or community can help. Find inspectors who are able to write a report that clearly states the description, limitations, and recommendations.
What to Avoid
A home inspector is not an engineer and does not have a crystal ball. Beware of inspectors who try to tell you or the buyer what is going to happen in the future or what the value of the house will be down the road. Assessing value is the task of the appraiser, and life expectancy estimates should come from plumbers, window suppliers, and other specialists.
If a home inspector seems too interested in an exclusive relationship or offers to perform “inspection lite,” you need to end the conversation. Also, if a home inspector appears to purposefully omit or gloss over potential significant concerns about the home, immediately omit the inspector from your list. Finally, there are home inspectors who are more interested in avoiding liability by calling in contractors than they are being the “voice of the house.” If you run into a home inspector who is suggesting plumbers and electricians right and left, but not making any substantive recommendations, that can spell trouble down the road.
Other danger signs to look out for are home inspectors who are too willing to let their software do the work for them or who do not explain things clearly in their software-generated report. Something should not be described as “against code,” for example, without an explanation of why.
Trust and Understanding
When you and your home inspection partners trust each other to serve your clients to the best of your ability, you can help a lot of people. You can ensure home buyers have the guidance and understanding they need to make knowledgeable and informed decisions about one of the biggest investments they’ll ever make. In the end, everyone benefits.