How To Choose A Home Inspector

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

So, does the buying public know about how to choose a home inspector?

How would YOU go about choosing a home inspector?

One very common way is email.  I happen to know this to be true.  Think about it - does email seem like a good way to interview anybody?  A doctor or dentist?  A school administrator?  A new boss?  How about a plumber?

It takes a lot of time by email, and the answers are likely not very complete!

IF IT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE EMAIL IS A SOLID METHOD TO INTERVIEW THEM, THEN WHY WOULD IT BE THE PREFERRED METHOD TO DECIDE ON SOMEBODY TO INSPECT WHAT IS LIKELY THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING ONE BUYS IN A LIFETIME?

It might seem old fashioned, but if I was to investigate anybody, it would be by telephone.

Why?  By phone (or even better, in person) you have the opportunity to listen to someone's thinking.  How do they respond to questions?  What is their phraseology?  How well do they answer specific questions, or are they evasive?  How direct and forthright are they in their answers?

Certainly I could go on.

What would be the best things to try to find out?

I would think experience and final product.

Sometimes my phone rings and all I hear is, "How much to you charge for a home inspection?"

Is that really all someone wants to know?

That's a weak question for two reasons:

1.  It discounts.  It DISCOUNTS things like experience and final product!
2.  It's assumptive.  It ASSUMES all home inspectors, and home inspections, are the same.  Therefore price is the only thing that counts.

Are all doctors or school teachers or museum tour guides or electricians or pick your profession all the same in terms of experience, skill, trustworthiness, personality or final results?

Well, if they are, then find the cheapest and good luck!

AGAIN, BUYING A HOUSE IS A PRETTY IMPORTANT DECISION.  THE CHEAPEST PRICE IS SIMPLY NOT THE BEST APPROACH!

What would you ask your home inspector?

As a home inspector, I can tell you that I appreciate a phone interview very much.  The questions that make the most sense to me regard:

  • Experience.  How long has the inspector been in business?  What did he do before becoming a home inspector? 
  • Methodology.  What does he do?  How does he do it?  Does he differ in any ways from other home inspectors out there?  What kinds of inspections are done?  Any cool tools?  What are the inspector's perceived strengths?
  • Qualifications.  Most states have requirements, but even if a state doesn't - are there any relevant associations, awards, qualifying entities associated with the inspector?  Is the inspector involved with continuing education?
  • Final product.  What do buyers get for their money?  How is the final product conveyed?
  • Post-inspection counseling.  This is crucially important!  I want to be the go-to guy after the inspection when there are questions, or my clients want to do repairs, remodeling or whatever!
  • Can he speak the language well enough to educate?  If not, the final report is likely to be just as weak as his speech.
  • Pricing.  Certainly that is a consideration.  But what do you get for your money?
  • Any personal experiences the buyer feels are important!  Life experience is a cruel, yet effective, teacher!  Don't be afraid to bring up past experiences.  They count for a lot.

In my opinion a home inspection is 30% EXPERIENCE AND CONSTRUCTION KNOWLEDGE, 30% QUALITY OF THE FINAL PRODUCT, 30% ABILITY TO CLEARLY EXPLAIN AND EDUCATE, and 10% PEOPLE SKILLS.

Most of that is learned through experience or inherent to the person and cannot be taught.

My recommendation:  the best way to choose a home inspector is to seek recommendations and have a look at the company website, and if you like what you see there give the company, or individual, a call!  Recommendations can come from any trusted source - friends' experiences, family, consumer websites, other home inspectors, realtors, or other real estate professionals.  Have your questions lined up before any conversation.  Ask if it's a good time to talk and if it is, then have a nice interview.  Hear what you hear and feel what you feel!  And go from there.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Brad Gotham 08/13/2012 07:00 AM
  2. Peggy Wester 08/13/2012 02:01 PM
  3. Evelyn Kennedy 08/14/2012 09:19 AM
  4. Winston Heverly 01/03/2013 06:05 AM
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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Gen - I would think realtors have their lists of all kinds of vendors to recommend, and NOT to recommend!

Which is why phone is certainly more recommended than email, Steven.  And often I am called, and interviewed, by people out of state.  I had two phone interviews just yesterday!

Randy - interestingly I have not been hired in the past because my pricing was too LOW!  They didn't think they were getting a good guy!

Nan - and you have no choice but to be careful!  Your name is on the line too!

Aug 14, 2012 10:09 AM #35
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Roger - certainly how things are said is very relevant.  And your other things are why buyers should invetigate and interview potential inspectors carefully.

Understood Evelyn.  I would like to be considered a part of the team, but am sure I am not the only inspector on every realtors' lists.  And thanks for the reblog!

Aug 14, 2012 10:12 AM #36
Rainmaker
636,309
Stephanie/Bob The Ruiz/Miller Team
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Jay, we just realized what you are up against.  Since we refer 95% of our buyers to one inspector, you would have a tough time breaking into our business.

Aug 14, 2012 10:33 AM #37
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I have been doing this for 31 years Bob.  I have outlasted everyone I know.  Certainly I would break in sooner or later.  And, if you're smart, sooner!      ;>)

Aug 14, 2012 10:36 AM #38
Rainer
58,940
Charles Walk

Great blog... long overdue. I have a specific company I use to perform all my inspections and I have developed a great raport with them by asking questions about their findings, training requirements and changes in their market. My involvement keeps everybody honest and I attend all my inspections. I explain to my clients that the inspections is for their benefit. If my client trusts me, they will trust the inspector that I select for them.

Aug 14, 2012 11:14 AM #39
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Charles - good point of view.  Around here the realtors give their clients three names and have them investigate.  I wonder how much investigating really goes on though.

Aug 14, 2012 01:00 PM #40
Rainmaker
818,992
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Homes

I wasn't aware that was the 'interview' process but I believe you. I think that most buyers just call from the phone book or internet.  I always give references of inspectors in my are that I like.  One of the best things a home inspector can do is explain the house to the buyer.  If a problem comes up, stay calm, advise how to fix it & it's not a life or death decision. 1st time buyers are the worst & just freak out over the littlest of things.

Aug 14, 2012 02:03 PM #41
Rainmaker
367,960
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jay, Well I think you know how I feel here. Sometimes it can be very tough to for the public to even know what questions to ask of the inspector.

Aug 14, 2012 02:31 PM #42
Rainer
145,557
Robert Sole
REM Inspections LLC - Winter Springs, FL

It is really sad that all some people look at is price.  Unfortuantely some Realtors promote this also.  I have had several Realtors call and ask for a price for an inspection.  They tell me that they are shopping for their client.  HUH???  <y prices are not that high but I rarely get a call back from one of those.

I had someone call the other day asking for a price for an inspection.  When I gave her my price, she complained that she had recently had her townhome inspected and the inspector only charged her $150 for the inspection (I was about $40 higher).  Wait a minute, if she got such a good deal on the other inspection, why was she calling me?  Obviously that $150 inspection wasn't that great or she would have simly called that inspector back.

Why would someon look for the absolutely cheapest inspector when they are going to be paying thousands of dollars for the home?  In many cases, they will be disappointed.

Aug 14, 2012 02:59 PM #43
Rainmaker
109,406
Rafi Footerman
Mid Jersey Inspections - Edison, NJ
Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More!

Couldn't agree with you more.  Sometimes I actually ask "don't you want to know what I do first?".  Usually that leads to a nice conversation.  If not, I give them a quick price and know that's the last I'll hear from them.  As they say, "good ice cream ain't cheap and cheap ice cream don't taste good". (poor grammar intentional) 

Aug 14, 2012 04:40 PM #44
Rainer
16,870
Chap Fichera
Ceilings 2 Cellars Home Inspections LLC - Green Lane, PA

I am old school and would rather talk on the phone and get a feel for the client's needs and let them hear and ask me questions.  I have been doing inspections and construction work all my working life and an proud of what I know and work to provide the right knowledge to my client.  I'm not the cheapest and not high end either. I charge a fair wage for a day's work, yes I try to do one inspection a day.  I tell my client they own me for the day, so whatever they want to do... I have the advantage of having a pension so I can take all the time they need to do it the way THEY need.  No one has complained I rush them or give them a short, half-baked report.  I actually like what I do, so every inspection is fun.

Good discussion.

Aug 14, 2012 07:01 PM #45
Rainmaker
325,799
Jon Quist
LONG REALTY - Tucson, AZ
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

The average home buyer way only have an occasion to need a home inspector once in 10-15 years, so I don't think they even know how to tell one inspector from another. That's why they have me.

Aug 14, 2012 10:57 PM #46
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Lyn - most experienced home inspectors are good for first-time buyers, understanding how to treat them.  I would think an interview to be essential!

Don - probably.  Once I had a client bring a list of over 200 questions to ask of your home inspector during the home inspection (downloaded from where ever).  I kept saying that some of those things don't apply, like an oil-burning boiler as the house had a heat pump.  But she insisted on asking all of them!  Common sense needs to rule too!

Robert - if price is it, then why not call that guy back?!  You are right!  Do you think that lady buys the cheapest make up?

Rafi - a good quote which applies perfectly!  Good way to break the ice!

Aug 15, 2012 02:31 AM #47
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Chap.  And good policy!  I always have the report back to them the same day, even if I'm up until midnight on Saturday night!

Jon - there is that debate on whether a realtor should refer anybody.  I am of the opinion that realtors have their fingers on lists of people they trust, as individuals and as offices.

Aug 15, 2012 02:33 AM #48
Rainmaker
1,263,666
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

If I was looking for a Brain Surgeon the last question would be how much he cost.  I would want to know how good he is then figure out how to pay him.  Now if I am having someone inspect the biggest purchase I will ever make and make sure my family will be safe in the house . . . .

Aug 15, 2012 02:27 PM #49
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Gene - I think cost does have some relevance, but it is certainly not the most important criterion!

Aug 15, 2012 03:34 PM #50
Rainer
71,840
Bill Saunders
Hot Springs Arkansas homes for sale (Diamondhead Realty) - Hot Springs, AR
Honesty, integrity

Hello again, Jay,

As always, a great post. One of the things that makes me cringe MOST is when a client decides to forego an inspection. I send them the HUD pamphlet by email, and ask for a confirmation that they received it, read it and are still going to forego this so needed step.

And definitely... money well spent!

Aug 18, 2012 07:15 AM #51
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Bill.  Glad to see you again.  I hope you are a really busy guy!

Inspections are essential.  Pick a good guy!

Aug 18, 2012 01:25 PM #52
Rainmaker
261,532
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

You evidently have a good handle on this. It's the same way to choose a Realtor.

 

Nov 13, 2012 07:44 PM #53
Rainmaker
1,240,703
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Wayne.  Look for someone who meets your criteria and go for it!

Nov 14, 2012 03:09 AM #54
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
1,240,703

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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