Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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Revealing Home Inspection Secrets

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Marketing tactic or honesty: what secrets do think need to be revealed?

There are home inspectors revealing secrets; there are those who hate the profession revealing secrets. I noticed this marketing tool was being used by many to put forward their agenda, so why not deliver my own take on the topic. My reasons for writing are also partly inspired by a tirade by some Realtors against home inspectors and contractors. My advice to them is if a Realtor does not wish to meet with contractors on behalf of a client, then tell your client about your desire. Let them consider if they wish to continue using your services. If you do not like the home inspector, tough. We are hired by the client, so be professional to work with us. As for those of you considering a home inspector, maybe it would be to your advantage to understand home inspector marketing to make an informed decision. Here are some keywords to check.

Secrets revealed– let us start with this one. Obviously, how many secrets could I have that I am not revealing on this blog? One statement that is made is that we hide how we do things to keep it secret. Think about this. How many people know all of the details of your job? It is not so much a secret, as a matter of learning. If someone is telling you that they are revealing secrets, they probably are not revealing anything another home inspector will not say.

Independent– the perception that home inspector are in a union with Realtors continues, because it does happen. I experienced Realtors and sellers who tried to force me to change my report. Good luck with that. Fueling the perception is the fact of referrals. Successful home inspectors receive referrals from Realtors. A home inspection cannot thrive without them. For some the term “independent” becomes tied with the idea that the inspector does not rely on Realtors, yet I know that all home inspectors have connections with Realtors. Can a butcher do his job without a connection from a rancher? It is the nature of the business. What you should understand that an inspector using the term independent is that the inspector is not going to allow others to sway the findings in the report, and most inspectors will fall into this category.

A contractor is better, because it is in their interest to reveal everything to you, so they get the work– this is a statement from the anti-home inspector camp which I wanted to address. I have nothing against contractors. They may discover more, yet they could also fudge an item to increase their income. Home inspectors in Texas are not allowed to work on the homes that they inspect, so the inspector has no financial motive to lie about more problems; the contractor does. You can hire a contractor, and that may be a good option for you, but an inspector may have more knowledge about different systems. One advantage in a state like Texas is that only a licensed home inspector can produce a report for the selling or purchase of a home. That report may carry more weight in negotiations than the statement ” my contractor said…”.

A home inspector is misleading you to get his money and have the sale go through– I am paid whether the sale happens or not (I know some clients feel that they do not need to pay me though). The perception tied with this statement is that home inspectors set up the situation that we cannot be blamed for anything we miss. Think about the business you are in. If you are misleading customers, how long will you stay in business? Again, there have been cases of home inspectors intentionally or not misleading clients, so these occurrences lend themselves to this belief. Most inspectors have a vested interest in revealing everything they find. As for the contracts, they do not prevent having a state agency investigate the home inspector or filing a lawsuit. There are home inspectors specialize in outing other inspectors and being witnesses in trials. No contract covers a home inspector from performing a bad job.

The inspector needs to know building codes– yes and no. Having an ICC certification to be a code inspector can help, but this is not a requirement to be a home inspector. All home inspectors that I know learn the code and keep a copy of the code handy. I have been told that with the amount that we are required to learn to pass the exam to become a home inspector could allow us to pass the code certification.  Being certified does open up business opportunities outside of home inspection. The real benefit in a home inspection is that the inspector who is code certified can refer to code in his report which may give it more weight. I have found that this is not always needed to give the report weight.

The longer the report the more detailed it is– again yes and no. I do have clients ask me how long is your report. They are equating length to thoroughness. I saw one inspector who filled his reports with quotes from books and individuals, sections of the building code, and architectural drawings detailing how the code applies in this section. The reports are detailed, and they are forty or more pages long. These reports are wonderful to read, but you have to wade through a great deal before getting to the gist that you need to know for the sale. I have seen other reports that are twenty pages which are simply that long because the inspector has a checklist of every possible problem that he could find under each section. There were few check marks, and the seller could not understand his report. They hired me to explain it to them. I also like inspection reports that file the data in the proper form, then the items are repeated exactly as written in the report but as an itemized list called the summary. That adds pages, particularly when they use a larger font. Judging an inspector by looking at the report is not a bad idea. You can see how well you can find the details that you need to know and the clarity of the writing.I would not trust an inspector who does not show you his report, but goes over another inspector’s report to criticize it. You need to know how they present their data, not how they complain about someone else.

Everybody is out to get you, so hire this home inspector because he will fight all of those horrible people for you– I know quite a few home inspectors who use scare tactics. I know builders who were rude. I know Realtors who are rude. I am sure that you know co-workers who are less than desirable too. This idea connects with the independent home inspector. The housing bubble which burst in 2008 did leave a feeling among the consumer that they should not trust every real estate professional. That is probably a good thing if the consumer educates themselves. This lack of trust is bad if you never respect the opinion of the professionals you are hiring or using. Unfortunately, those who have a bad experience are more likely to voice their opinions than those whose experience went well. The internet gives a discontented consumer a voice which helps home inspectors market based upon the scare tactic. You do need the home inspector to be on your side, but if he is more concerned with scaring you, is he really helping you?

Do not trust the cheap home inspector; if you want good service you have to pay for it; cheap equals lack of experience– maybe. Price is based on more items than experience. Inspectors have to factor in their costs for maintaining their business. They have to determine the profit needed to live (their salary). They have to look at their competitors. If an inspector does not want his price to be competitive with other home inspectors, that is his choice. A better service does justify a higher price, but you may find an equal service for a lower price. I choose to be competitive. I have found that on certain issues that I am better informed than older  inspectors, and I do not discount that I can learn from them. Price can be a factor, but you should understand that a home inspector focusing on cheap home inspectors is justifying his high price. You as the consumer should judge is that price fair.

Those are the main points. Did I reveal any secrets? I guess not. Marketing targets the clients we want, so if the statements appeal to you, then that may be the home inspector for you. I would rather have an informed consumer. Happy hunting for your inspector.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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