Congratulations! The home inspection is complete! We write the report and move on to the next job, but it isn’t over for our client. They will now use our report to negotiate repairs with the seller. How we write and present the report to the homebuyer deeply affects the repairs request and negotiation process plays out. Here’s what we can do to prepare the homebuyer for the negotiation process.
Keep Things in Perspective
We know that home inside-out after inspecting it. We spot every problem, from huge structural issues to tiny cosmetic blemishes, and we know which ones to worry about. Our client doesn’t have this frame of reference. To them, an inspection report can feel like an overwhelming list of problems they have no idea how to prioritize.
Give the homebuyer perspective. Emphasize what issues really need addressing now, and which are less important. It’s tempting to write up every minor flaw, but an overly long report reads like a textbook. A typical homebuyer can’t digest the important information in time. Ask the client what is important to them, and address those points in detail. Tailor the report to cover the most relevant issues to that client and include an executive summary that places important information front and center.
Speak the Client’s Language
Our client shouldn’t need a dictionary to read their home inspection report. Technical language is second nature to us, but discussions about roof flashings and water heater anodes will lose readers. If our inspection report reads like a software manual, homebuyers won’t pay attention and may miss something important. Simple is always better. People respond to straightforward, uncomplicated language. Define complex systems and components so the homebuyer doesn’t have to ask, and encourage the client to ask questions even if they sound silly.
Give Your Client a Roadmap Through Repairs
Our home inspection reports serve two functions: notifying our clients of problems and giving ways to address those problems. The best reports offer concrete, actionable steps the homebuyer can take to address major issues before they move in. When writing up a significant problem, step into the client’s shoes. They have an issue. How big of an issue is it? What do they do? And when?
Write with action in mind. Don’t just say that a furnace is unsafe; tell the homebuyer to get an HVAC inspection before closing. We don’t need to provide cost estimates or recommendations for HVAC inspectors, but we do need to recommend next steps. Maybe the homebuyer decides to take those next steps before closing, maybe they don’t. The important thing is that they’re ready to make informed decisions.
Follow Up After the Inspection
Your home inspection report is fresh on their minds. Now, show them that you appreciate their business. Shoot the homeowner a thank you note three days (or less) after the inspection is done. Within a month, send another note that welcomes them to their new home and offers a timeline for maintenance tasks, like cleaning the gutters.
Homeowners are excited when they get the keys to their new place. They can move in and turn the house into a home. After a few months, small annoyances and problems surface. Send another note 90 days after the inspection to check on the homeowner and another at the four to five-month mark. Remind your client that it’s time to do seasonal maintenance, like checking the sump pump in winter or the HVAC system before summer.
Follow-up notes show that you’re a diligent, careful home inspector who cares about your clients. Investing in that relationship builds your business and minimizes complaints and lawsuits.