5 Struggles Every Home Inspector Feels (and How to Overcome Them)

Struggles

We think we are the only ones with our own unique troubles, struggles, and concerns. I have gotten to know dozens of home inspectors across the USA and Canada. One thing has become very obvious after 20 years in the home inspection business. We all share the same struggles and some of us have figured out ways to overcome them.

Not Enough Business

The most common struggle I hear about is really the easiest to overcome. Not having enough business. Sitting in your office or at your ‘day job’ worrying about it will never make the struggle go away. It will just get worse.

Overcome this struggle by marketing. Not ‘fancy, costs you tons of money’ type marketing. I mean the ‘go out and meet people’ type marketing. When you need business you need to find people who are ready, willing, and able to hire you right now. Who knows those kind of people? Realtors. Go meet some and the business will come.

Too Much Business

This may sound like a struggle you want to have but it can be tough to deal with. I hate nothing more than to turn away business because I can’t fit it into the schedule. It is just like giving money away.

Overcome this struggle by raising your prices. You will get few holes in your schedule but will make more money on each job. Its a lot easier to handle slower times when you are making more money.

Demanding Agents

Demanding agents are tough to work with. We have all known a few. They want everything done the way they want it. They need inspections done at 5pm on Saturday or want some type of discount or special treatment for their clients. I make allowances for people that have been great to work with or have referred tons of business but there is always a limit.

Overcome this struggle in one or two ways. Put your foot down and let the agent know they need to chill. They may just need to know your boundaries. If that doesn’t work you may need to cut them loose. There are hundreds of other agents out there and most are honest and wonderful to work with. Go find them.

Client Don’t Seem to Listen

We have all had them. The client that just gives you that blank stare and you know they have not heard a word you have said. It gets frustrating. Nothing you seem to say gets through. More times than not it is our own fault and we can fix it.

Overcome this struggle by listening to your client. I know it sounds weird but get your client to talk and then listen to them. They will tell you what they need and the best way to communicate. Do that you will be amazed how well they listen to you.

Finding Time for Family

Running crazy through the summer is just part of the business. We welcome the time when things slow down and we have time to breath. Our families do too.

Overcome this struggle by setting time aside for family and sticking to it. It can be next to impossible to take a vacation in the busy season so do it at the holidays instead.

Refer a Friend to Tap Inspect and Earn

Invitation

We are always looking to help more home inspectors save time and see what is possible with Tap Inspect. Our growth has been driven by word of mouth and we could not be prouder. That’s why we are announcing our Earn $60, Give $60 referral program.

How Does it Work

Invite a friend and if they end up subscribing you both get $60. Its as simple as that.

Open the Earn $60, Give $60 screen in the Tap Inspect app or from your web account. Just enter their email address  and we send them an invitation to sign up for the free trial. They will get all the same help and support we are known for. No obligation or hard sales pitches involved.

Earn by Giving

Share the love. If you know someone that may like Tap Inspect send them an invite. If someone is amazed how easy it is for you to finish your reports send them an invite.

When they subscribe to Tap Inspect they will get a $60 discount on their initial subscription. You will also get a $60 credit on your next Pay As You Go recharge or a free month if you are an Unlimited monthly subscriber.

Start Sharing and Earning

There is no limit to the number of invitations you can send and they do not expire. Send as many as you like and let other home inspectors know there is a faster way to finish their reports.

After the Home Inspection Comes the Repair Request

Working on a repair request

Purchasing a home can be a long and stressful process. Homebuyers have possibly been looking at dozens of homes with their realtor over several months. After finally getting an accepted offer they are ready for the next big step: inspections and the repair request.

A home inspector’s role in this process is pretty limited. We spend a couple of hours doing the inspection and building a report, and then we are off to our next inspection with a new client. But that’s not the case for the client we just worked with.

Big decisions still need to be made. What repairs should they address with the seller? Do they ask for repairs to be done? Do they ask for some type of credit, or maybe even a cash payment so they can fix it themselves?

That is the purpose of the repair request and that is why they are motivated to hire us in the first place.

What Exactly is a Repair Request?

Most real estate purchase contracts include a Home Inspection Contingency clause. That is what gives the homebuyer, our client, the right to hire a home inspector to help them understand the condition of the property.

Once the home inspection is complete, the homebuyer will get together with their agent and decide what in the home inspection report is the most important to them. The homebuyer must release the contingency for the purchase to move forward, and that is typically done with a repair request. The home inspection report is used to document what and why those repairs are reasonable.

Why is This Important?

The homebuyer and the home inspector often look at the purpose of the home inspection differently. Some realtors will say “Don’t worry, the home inspector will find everything wrong with the house and give you a list of what needs to be fixed.”  What the homebuyer really wants is a list of repairs to ask the seller to fix. They hire a home inspector with the expectation that they will receive that in the report.

This can cause misunderstandings and sometimes even conflict. 

Ask a home inspector and you get a different answer. Most of us want to teach you about the home you are buying and provide a report. We don’t just list everything that needs to be fixed.

Why Care About the Repair Request?

The best real estate agents know how to negotiate issues that come up in the home inspection. They know that no home is perfect and also want their clients to be happy. The repair request is just another negotiation and another step in the process.

Some home inspectors refuse to tell their clients how to fix things. Others are a little more flexible and try to provide some guidance about how important something is and what needs to be done to address it. Some others may even provide estimates of costs. There is no right answer, it’s up to you how to run your business and treat your clients.

The homebuyer is still the one needs to make the choices. With the home inspector’s expertise, and hopefully their agent’s guidance, they will request the items they want to be addressed. In the end it is up to the homebuyer to reach an agreement with the seller.

Help Your Client Along Their Journey

To be a true professional means understanding what your customer needs and how you can help. Getting a home inspection report can be overwhelming enough for most homebuyers. Do you want to be the kind of home inspector to help them, or leave them confused and stressed?

Take a little time and think how we fit into the entire home purchasing journey. Deliver the report your client really wants. Help them understand what is important and what to do next to fix it. By preparing them for the next step of making the repair request, you will have a grateful and satisfied client.

Homes Don’t Have a Check Engine Light

Check Engine on Home

Home inspection clients have changed. One of the biggest changes has been that they have not been educated about how to take care of their home by their parents. Why don’t homes have a check engine light to tell us when to do maintenance like our cars?

Most people contract their maintenance or don’t do it at all

I think we can trace this back to kids raised by “soccer moms” that constantly shuttled them through activities. Even historically standard tasks like mowing the lawn didn’t happen as there wasn’t time, so it was outsourced to a lawn care service.

Besides being busy, a primary dynamic at work here is that the amount of disposable income increased substantially from 1990s through 2010 for many suburban families. This enabled parents to outsource home maintenance instead of doing it themselves and in-turn, they didn’t educate their kids about what to do, an how to do it. As stated above, because the kids were living such structured and busy lives there wasn’t much additional time to ask them to, or get them involved around the home. For parents that didn’t outsource, they had to cram some marginal home maintenance is to a few free minutes here and there. The idea of dad “tinkering around in the garage” didn’t happen as much with the most recent generation of families.

Anecdotally (and many home inspectors can probably tell better stories), today’s buyer may not even realize that there is a filter that needs to be changed for their central air system. Certainly most don’t understand heating systems whether it be the fuel source or how the heat is distributed.

How to help your client maintain their home

I’m fond of saying “homes don’t have ‘check engine lights'” and despite advancing of the smart home technology we are at least a decade away from that impacting a majority of homeowners. Without a critical eye to evaluate things that might be heading south, I can see a number trends:

  1. Owners will need help in identification and prioritization of home tasks/projects
  2. Home maintenance will be even more reactive than pro-active
  3. Owners will outsource even more about the home
  4. Inspectors will likely see more deferred maintenance than ever before

Inspectors that embrace the mindset of today’s buyers by using technology and helping their customers in ways they may not have before, will lead the pack. Whether it is helping the new owner find qualified home pros after the inspection is complete, or returning to offer services to the homeowner a year later, the skills and network of the inspector need not stop after the transaction is complete. There are important ethical lines that all inspectors need to heed, but ultimately, if the interests of the homebuyer are the number-one priority above all else, the inspector will have served their client well.

About the Author

Although not an inspector, Jack Huntress has been working with inspectors for the last 7 years, first with EDR (www.edrnet.com) developing the Neighborhood Environmental Report and in the last 4 years with his own business, HomeBinder (www.homebinder.com). He lives outside of Boston, MA with his wife and two boys. Connect with Jack at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jhuntress

6 Costly Mistakes Home Inspection Clients Make

We do our best to help our home inspection clients understand the home they are buying. Sometimes we just can not protect them from themselves. Here are the most costly mistakes I have seen made and how to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Hiring on Price

It is understandable to get a little price conscious once it gets time to schedule the home inspection but this is not the time to go with the cheapest price. The reality is that the lower the price of the home inspection, the less the home inspector values their time and usually the less experience they have.

The home inspector that charges $300 needs to do 3 inspections to earn the same as a home inspector that charges $450 for 2 inspections. The $300 inspector depends on volume and speed. The $450 home inspector has likely done hundreds of inspections, will actually take less time because of experience, and make fewer errors.

Mistake 2: Not Attending the Inspection

Most buyers make their offer after only a few minutes in the house. The home inspection is their chance to spend a few hours really looking at the place and spending time in their new home. Why would anyone pass that up?

I tell all my clients to follow me around so I can show them what I am looking at and they can ask any questions. By the end of the inspection they know as much as I know about the house they are buying.

If you can’t be there for the whole inspection, make sure you are least there at the end. Can’t be there at the end? At least send someone you trust. Not being there at all could be a costly mistake

Mistake 3: Not Reading the Whole Report

The home inspection report is much more than a summary. It has descriptions, suggestions, information, and explanations. Take the time to read it all. There is tons of information.

Hopefully the home inspector is a great better communicator that can describe your home in a readable report less than 35-40 pages. If the report is over 100 pages it can be a nightmare and read like a text book but give it a try and stick with it. If you were not at the inspection, the report will be everything you have to go on.

Mistake 4: Missing the Big Picture

It can get easy to freak out after listening to a list of 20 electrical issues in your new home. Relax and look at the big picture. It’s probably not like the home needs to be rewired. Get the issues fixed and move on.

All home inspections have a ‘lead story’. Keep your eyes on the big picture and the little stuff will not cloud your judgement or distract you. This can lead to making costly mistakes.

Mistake 5: Asking Sellers For Wrong Things

Once you can see the big picture from your home inspection you know what to ask the sellers to do. Remember that you will be maintaining this home for years to come and have different tastes in finishes and quality.

It can be a costly mistake to ask the sellers to replace the deck railing when you have no control over what it will look like or how it is done. Sure, the railing was replaced but not the way you would do it.

Mistake 6: Not Asking the Seller to Fix the Right Things

I have personally inspected the same home over and over with the same issues that has never been fixed. This could be unique but it has happened in more than one home. How could that be?

Too many home buyers think they will fix the problem once they move in but life gets in the way. You get busy with packing, moving, changing addresses, and all the other stuff that goes with buying and even selling your home. It just slips through the cracks until the next home inspection gets done.

It can be tempting thinking especially if you are handy. Don’t make this costly mistake and just get it fixed before you move in.