Home Inspection Clients Have Changed…So Has Tap Inspect

If you want to get a glimpse at the next wave of home inspection clients, head to your nearest college campus.

A study by the National Association of REALTORs shows that nearly half of all home sales are to first-time buyers, the majority of whom are young professionals around age 30. Research also shows that these buyers are much different than their parents. They’ve grown up with the internet and have been working with smartphones since they were barely out of the womb. They communicate with Twitter, text messages and Facebook posts-short, fast and to the point.

Unfortunately our industry doesn’t always accommodate that style of communication. We still expect them to read a 50 page inspection report and to try to understand it. Does the next generation want to be educated? Yes, but not like the previous generation. What they really want to know is what is wrong and who to call to fix it. They want to know where the water shutoff is located, how often to change the furnace filter and if the water heater is gas or electric, not the details of how a high efficiency furnace works. Short, fast and to the point.

I have a constant survey running for all my clients and agents. One of my questions is, “How soon did you expect delivery of the inspection report?” Over 60 percent say, “Within a few hours” and less than 40 percent say, “Within 24 hours.” I publish my reports while standing in the kitchen of the inspected home. I tell the client and the agent that the report is already in their inbox. They are always amazed! Over 80 percent of clients and approximately half of all agents pick up their report within two hours of publishing it.

The new home inspection client is impatient. When they want a movie, they stream it from Netflix and watch it immediately. If they want a song, they get it from iTunes and listen now. If they want to know the term for a group of turkeys, they Google it on the spot. (FYI: A group of turkeys is called a “rafter.” I just Googled it from another window). Rather than looking at the changing inspection client as a problem, I see him (or her) as an opportunity to update our profession and create more succinct reports that clients find accessible and readable. As clients and their needs change, we, as inspectors, must be able to adapt, move forward and alter our business model in response to the future.

~ Michael Wirth, Co-Founder of Tap Inspect

Tap Inspect: New and Improved!

Hi Tap Inspect users! We’ve got a new version that includes a couple of bug fixes. If you’ve been having problems with the camera, this could solve your problems. Tap Inspect Version 2.0.4:

* Eliminates crashes when adding photos

* The ability to add longer names and addresses

* Synchronization improvements with our web server

Step right this way to get the free update.

Is Your Inspection Report Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

You might be well versed in HVAC systems, masonry defects and delaminated shingles but your clients probably aren’t. A survey by the American Society of Home Inspectors shows that most home buyers (88 percent) believe that inspections are a crucial part of the home buying process, but few understand what information is standard on an inspection report or what they should expect.

How clear is your inspection report? To find out, try this little experiment. Take a report you’ve recently done and remove the summary. Then give it to someone (a fifth grader if you’re really brave) and ask them to tell you what the major issues are in this home. Judging from any scrunched up noses and questioning faces you receive, you will instantaneously know exactly how easy (or cryptic) your report truly is.

So how are we, as an industry, simplifying things and helping the consumer to understand who we are, what we do and what they need to know about in their own homes? As home inspectors, we have a responsibility to organize and explain our findings in a way clients can understand, making it simple enough that they won’t be deterred by the report itself and skip straight to the summary. Here are a few tips for creating clear and concise reports:

  • A picture is worth 1,000 words…literally. Photos can help illustrate a problem faster and more directly than written words alone. Make sure to incorporate photos of any major problems or unusual cases in your reports.
  • Leave it to the experts. If there’s a special case that requires the help of a building professional, don’t chance it. Feel free to include a line in your report asking clients to get an electrician or plumber in to scout a problem before they close on the home.
  • Stay updated. The best way to create a solid home inspection report is to know how each component of the house operates. Review your building and code guidelines periodically and stay current on industry trends through continuing education courses.
  • A report is only half the battle. In addition presenting your report, stay on hand after the inspection to answer questions buyers may have. Your buyers could bring up an issue that you missed when doing the inspection.

New Tap Inspect Video!

In an effort to answer your questions and showcase how Tap Inspect can fit your inspection report needs, we’re rolling out a series of videos targeted to very specific aspects of our program. Check out our newest on how to use Tap Inspect to customize condition ratings:

Inspect the Home Inspector: Dan Paradela

Dan Paradela of All American Inspections, LLC in New Orleans breaks down his trade secrets:

Dan Paradela and Family

All it took to get this former vending machine distribution guy into the home inspection biz was a surprise $30,000 bill and a hurricane. Seven years ago, Paradela and his wife purchased a home only to find out that the inspector had missed the leaky roof, the bad plumbing and the faulty electric breaker box. After investing 30 grand into repairing the home, Paradela decided that he could do better. Looking for something new, Paradela started slowly selling his vending machine business and taking inspection classes on the side with hopes of learning the ins and outs of flipping houses. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, wiping out the remainder of Paradela’s old business and forcing him into a new profession. “I found out I love it,” Dan says. “It really clicked. There are no gray areas in home inspection. Either the systems in the home are good or they need repair. It’s pretty cut and dry.” Today Paradela averages about 500 inspections per year throughout Louisiana. We asked him to give us a sneak peak into how his business works.

Tap Inspect: Mastering the inspection end is only half the battle. How do you market and promote yourself?

Dan Paradela: First off, My wife [who manages the sales and marketing end of All American Inspections] and I market directly to our customers. Everyone knows somebody else who’s buying a house, so we always hand out business cards. I also have a list of about 4,000 agents in the southeast Louisiana area. I’ll e-mail about 1,000 of them in a certain metropolitan area and offer them a coupon or a special. We go to broker open houses and we try to remind them of all the services we offer including infra-red thermal imaging inspections, mold and asbestos inspections. We even do inspections for meth labs. When the cops bust a meth lab, they need somebody after the clean up is done, we do those inspections too.

Tap: How do you turn one-time inspection clients into repeat business?

Dan: I try to give them a good inspection. I’m thorough. I take my time. It doesn’t matter if it takes me 3 hours to do an inspection. I’m going to look at everything inch by inch. I also give [the home owners] pads and pens and tell them that if they see something to write it down. I give them something to do because if they follow you, they can drive you crazy. It helps you too. They’ll find little things that are wrong. No matter how bad it is, I always have a positive attitude when I disclose. I never shake my head and say “Oh man, this house has mold all over it.” This is their dream. This is the house that they really like. I tell them all of the negative things and include them on the report, but I tell [the client] about them in a very gentle way.

Tap: That must be hard in homes that are significantly damaged.

Dan: When I first started [inspecting homes], I would go to different agencies and talk to agents about their complaints with home inspections. One of their biggest beefs was that guys doing the inspections, a lot of them were electricians or plumbers and really had no customer relations experience. They would tell people “I wouldn’t get this house” and it would blow the deal. If you talk to a customer like that, the customer might walk away from the deal, but the agent is never going to work with you again. I tell the agent up front that I will never lie or withhold information from a report, but that I will put it all in the report and tell the agent about the problems in private so that they can choose how they want to disclose that to the customer. Usually the agent says “Oh, you tell the customer,” but I try to give them that courtesy ahead of time.

Tap: What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen on the job?

Dan: After Katrina, I saw was in St. Bernard, Louisiana and saw a full apartment complex that the storm had picked up and put directly on top of a house. Part of the house was crushed, but the other part was perfectly in tact. That was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.

Check out Dan’s work at Allamericanhomeinspections.biz.

Got a question? Got a trade secret? Tap Inspect is always looking for ways to help our current clients and promote their businesses. If you’ve got a question on the home inspection business you’d like answered or you’ve got a tip you’d be willing to share with our fans, send us an e-mail at chris@tapinspect.com with “Inspect the Inspector” in the subject line.

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