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.

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.

5 Ways to Stand Out From the Home Inspection Crowd

These days most consumers are familiar with the idea of what a home inspection is and why they need to do one when buying their house. Consumers are also pretty familiar with what makes up a home inspection thanks to the TV shows and all the information on the internet.

How we, as home inspectors, do our job is pretty similar where ever you go. We all follow similar standards of practice and are governed by similar licensing or registration. The consumer has a reasonable expectation to get the same type of service from a home inspection in Washington or in New Hampshire. While I think this is a good thing it does make standing out a little tougher.

So how do you stand out from the crowd when the only difference many consumers see is price?

Be a One Stop Shop

Sometimes it is hard to remember but a home inspection is just another step in the long process of purchasing a home. By the time your potential client rings your phone they have been looking and working on this for possibly months. Now they have to learn a whole new vocabulary about what to inspect, then find all the qualified people, and finally coordinate everyone to get into the home before their time to inspect runs out.

Wow your potential clients by being a one stop shop and take care of it all for them. Ask if they want you to schedule a termite inspection, radon test, water quality, or whatever other types of services that are usually done in your area. Take it off their shoulders and be the professional that guides them through with your experience and network of contacts.

You can end up charging a little more and providing the best customer service. You help take what was a stressful step into the type of service people remember for years.

Add Value for Your Client

A sure fire way to stand out is to provide additional value that others may not. These types of things do not really generate revenue but rather add to the value of your services above just doing the inspection.

You could provide your clients with services like HomeBinder that give them a place to store all their home’s documents online. They will also notify your client for recalls on their appliances and equipment and let you send maintenance reminders.

Deliver Your Reports Quickly

It seems to be a general consensus in the home inspection industry that a report needs to be delivered within 24 hours. That is absolutely nuts in this day and age of mobile devices and cameras on our phones! Waiting for our home inspection report holds up the entire transaction for everyone.

When a prospective client calls they are under a time limit to get the home inspection scheduled, performed and to respond. Once I tell them they will have the report at the end of the inspection I hear them sigh with relief.

Back in the days where you had to go back to the office, download your photos from a digital camera and then build your report on you PC … Maybe, but not anymore.

There are plenty of apps out there to help you do it. I am quite partial to Tap Inspect and I use it to do my inspections.

Provide Easy to Read Reports

Have you ever actually read a 100 page home inspection report. I mean read it all the way through. It is a chore and pretty tough. Almost like reading a textbook. We expect out clients to do it every time we deliver one.

Our clients are stressed, in a time constraint, and may or may not understand anything about homes or construction. If you want to stand, provide a report they want to read and can easily understand.

I often think we end up writing the reports that WE want to read and that other inspectors will admire. Good or bad, our clients are not always like us. They just need to know what to do so they can move forward.

Be Yourself

When you get a group of home inspectors together you see all kinds of personalities. There are teachers, negotiators, enforcers, counselors, all kinds of people and personalities. It ends up being tough at times to find agreement as a group but that is what tends to make us good at what we do.

Each of our personalities give us strengths that other may not have and lets us help and connect with our clients in unique ways. Over the years most of my business come from people that value the way I handle myself and how I deal with my clients. I know other home inspectors that have built their business by being no nonsense/this is the way is has to be done kind of inspector.

No one is like you and no one is like me. The best way to stand out is to be yourself.

2 Ways of Doing a Multifamily Home Inspection Report on the Tap Inspect App

Multi Family Property

After you have been doing inspections for a while, everyone eventually gets called to do some kind of multi family property report. These kinds of reports a really similar to what we do every day but different enough that I get a lot of questions about how to use our system to make these a little easier to generate.

When you first look at a multi family property it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out how to build the report. I mean you have all these bathrooms, kitchens, electrical panels … At first glance it is a typical inspection multiplied by the the number of units the property has. But if you look a little closer … it is really much simpler.

The first key to doing a multifamily report is to understand it is really just one building. It has a single site, a single exterior, a single roof, and a single structure. It is really no different than a typical single family home.

I actually use the same sections that are in my Home Inspection template. You may need to add a few more comments but the sections, items and options should be fine help you describe and identify all the common elements of the property.

The second key is to understand that each unit is probably quite similar to all the other units in the property. I create a new section named Unit #1 and try to build a ‘prototype unit’.
What does than mean? Does each unit has it’s own HVAC? Ok. I add a Heating and Cooling subsection. It’s own water heater, electrical panel, laundry? I add those subsections.

Some multi family properties even have a common heating, cooling, laundry, or hot water system just like a single family home. In those cases you can just use the same sections again that are in your Home Inspection template.

Once you determine the basic makeup of a unit you can duplicate that unit over and over in the report as many times as you need.

It is really that simple

  • Treat the building like you would any typical single family home
  • Create a Unit section and duplicate it as many times as you need

What Your Home Inspection Clients Don’t Know…

Part of the challenge of being a home inspector is simply educating current and future clients about what you do. While the American public has a general idea of what home inspectors do, misconceptions abound. Here are the most common myths you may need to dispel for your clients:

What They Think:

A Home Inspection is a One-Stop Shop

According to a 2012 American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) survey of 2,262 adults, the vast majority believe that home inspectors are important but they’re not sure exactly why. 84 percent of survey respondents believe that a proper home inspection is a necessity, but 12 percent of respondents confused a home inspection with an appraisal and a walloping 28 percent “believes the purpose of an inspection is to verify that a home complies with local building codes.”

What They Think: 

A Home Inspection is Comprehensive

When home buyers enlist your services, they may think that they’re getting every inch of their pad inspected. A 2011 ASHI survey of 2,122 adults showed that the many home buyers believe that components such as septic systems, electrical wiring and plumbing behind drywall and swimming pools are always included in their home inspection even though you may not include them in yours.

According to ASHI, a standard inspection report covers home basics including:

“…the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components. The report will include covered systems and components the home inspector finds that are not functioning properly, significantly deficient, unsafe, or are near the end of their service lives”

What They Think: 

All Home Inspectors are Certified

The thing home buyers seem confused on most is your credentials. 70 percent of buyers believe that home inspectors must be licensed or certified to perform a home inspection in that state. They don’t, meaning that if you do have a license, certification or outstanding credential, it’s worth your while to educate clients on how you’ve gone above and beyond and what that extra education can do for them.