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

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.