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.

Getting Photos From a Tap Inspect Report

Extract Photos

Tap Inspect is a great place to save, archive and build reports with photos but sometimes you need to get one or more photos out of the report so you can share them, save them, or even use them someplace else.

Here are 3 different ways to get photos out of a Tap Inspect report. Each method works really well depending on where you want to do with the photos or how many photos you want to extract.

Sharing your Photos

The first method is the quickest, easiest and works really well for one or two photos. We call this the ‘Share method’. When you are in a report just tap on a thumbnail of a photo to open it full screen. Down in the bottom right corner is the ‘share icon’, tap on that and an action sheet pops up letting you select how and where you would like to share this photo.

Depending on how you have set up your device you can save it to the camera roll, post to Facebook, tweet the photo, or email it.

Once you have shared this photo you can swipe to other photos and share them. This works great if you want to text, email, or even save a few photos to camera roll.

Extracting a Report’s Photos

The second method we call the ‘Extract method’. It allows you to extract some or all the photos of a report and copy them onto the camera roll on your device. Once a photo is in your Camera Roll you can do pretty much anything you want with it.

For this method you want to open the report again and go into the Report Options by tapping on Edit, or Edit Fields on iPad and then tapping of the Report Options button that shows up in when you are in Edit mode and then tapping on Extract Photos.

A grid pops up with every photo the report knows about. This grid will also include original photos before you added arrows and circles and sometimes even orphaned photos that were removed from the report from other devices.

Tap on the little circle at the top right corner of the thumbnail to add a checkmark to select it. If you need a better look, tap on the thumbnail to view it full screen, tap on the checkmark circle, and then swipe to the next photo or tap on the grid icon in the bottom left to go back to the grid.

When you are all done tap on Extract and all the photos will be copied from your report into the Camera Roll on your device. Open the Photos app and you will see them there.

Your Web Account

The last way to get photos out of a Tap Inspect report doesn’t even need the Tap Inspect app. This is the ‘Web method’. From any web browser go to tapinspect.com and log in with your email address and password you use with the app. Go to Inspections and then click on the report that has the photos you want. Then click on a photo to view it full size and you can right click to save the image just like you would save any image from the web.

So there you go, three different ways to get photos out of a Tap Inspect report. Each with its own advantages and limitations and each that fits certain situations.

Give them all try and see what works best for you. Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment here, connecting with us on Facebook or by email to info@tapinspect.com.

Deliver the Home Inspection Report Your Clients Really Want

Ask any home inspector and we almost always say the same thing: ‘My clients hire me because of my report’. After looking at hundreds of home inspection reports and talking with hundreds of home inspectors I just can not understand how this is the case. If clients love the 20 page, 3 part form checklist report just as much as the 175 page report with 5 photos of every room I must be missing something.

How do you deliver the home inspection report your clients really want? First thing to do is ask them. So that is what I did and this is what my clients told me.

Show Me What You are Talking About

A few sentences and a photo or two can explain way more than a page of text. Using photos makes much more sense and makes reports easier to read and to understand. Modern home inspection reports are all about the photos.

Don’t get tempted to just add a big block of Report Photos at the end of your reports though. Your clients will have to flip back and forth trying to understand where which photo goes with which statement. What a pain to read and to try to understand.

Give Me a Report I Can Actually Read

My times than not I have heard, “How do they expect me to read this thing! It’s over 100 pages long!’. If you have not heard this about your or one of your competitors reports you have not been listening.

Most of us became home inspectors to help teach people about their homes and to help them learn. That does not mean that our reports need to be a text book. Our clients want a report they can read and understand. If they want or need more information they will ask or more likely Google or You Tube the information.

Tell Me Why It’s Important and What to Do Next

After looking at homes every day and going to classes with other home inspectors it gets really easy to lose sight of what our clients know. We became home inspectors to help people and share our knowledge and experience. Is it fair to just tell our clients that something is wrong without going on to tell them why and where to go next.

I know we have been warned over and over about liability. You may not be comfortable telling your clients how soon something should be done or some ballpark of the costs. But we have a responsibility to help our clients. Take some time and ask them yourselves what they need from you.

Give Me a Summary I Can Understand

By far the biggest demand was for a summary of the home inspection. Not just a list of deficiencies, or several lists broken down by safety or maintenance. The clients I spoke with wanted a summary, an executive summary, of the home written in a way they could understand it.

This really makes sense. Most home inspection reports I’ve seen are written in a way that other home inspectors, most realtors, and even some home buyers can understand. But the average home buyer may not. After spending several hours with a home inspector looking at things they will not see again for years can get overwhelming. It was made pretty clear, they wanted a summary they they could understand.