Blog by All-Star Home Inspection Services LLC.

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Choosing a Home Inspector

Choosing a residential home inspection company is an important part of many real estate transactions. Too many times the choice is left to the party with the least experience in choosing a company. As a Real Estate Agent it is your responsibility not only to help your client find the right home, but to guide them through the transaction.

Often times the home inspection can reveal issues that the buyer may have missed on the walk through. Home inspectors are trained to test and report on what is both good and what is in need of maintenance and repair. Most home buyers do not typically enter crawl spaces or attics, and do not carry the kinds of test equipment needed to determine the condition of electrical, heating/cooling or plumbing systems. A competent home inspector does these things as a matter of course providing a clear readable report of the inspection findings. This is the minimum requirement of your choice of an inspection company.

As an agent however you may want to consider asking for more than just the minimum. As California real estate transactions become more and more expensive, the occurrence of legal action becomes more and more common. Home inspectors are on the front line in this battle and coming to the transaction with more than the minimum is becoming a prudent requirement. If you provide your customer with a list of inspection companies, then you should consider asking if the inspector is bonded and at what level? Bonding indicates a degree of professionalism and concern for the customer. It is also protection for the seller who is opening up their property for the inspection.

Another important consideration as an agent is the professional insurance coverage of your inspection choice. Any reputable inspection company will carry insurance to protect the inspector, but who is looking out for the agent?  As an agent your referral list should include only quality, bonded, inspectors that also provide the agent Referral Indemnity.  Referral Indemnity is an extra level of coverage that in a legal action resulting from the inspector’s work, provides coverage to the agent that referred the inspector to the client. This is very important in today’s litigious society where too many professionals are considered targets for unscrupulous lawyers and their clients.

Lastly the inspection report itself is something that too many agents do not consider as the important legal document that it is. A quality report will asses the condition of the property and makes it understandable to the client and the agent. The report should be an agent’s tool, used to close the transaction to the satisfaction of both the seller and the buyer. Look closely at the organization and the level of detail in the report. Is it a quick checklist done in pencil with eraser marks? Is it a document that will have meaning in 3 years? Is it provided to the customer in both digital and hardcopy? As a professional you should only consider a professional report for your clients. When your client purchases an inspection report it should measure up to the value of the real estate transaction. It should be available to you quickly and be a document that is archival quality. It should contain color photography of the property and detailed descriptions of the areas of concern as well as the functional areas. It should contain a summary of issues to be addressed. It should provide a description of what the condition is, what can happen if left untreated, and what should be done to remedy the condition.

So the next time you review the list of inspection companies you work with, ask yourself if you have considered these issues. Make sure you are protected and get what you pay for. In our experience in real estate “bad news early is good”. Ask the seller to have an inspection on the property as it comes on to the market. Remove the surprise factor from the table and deal with the inspection issues early in the sales cycle.  Buyers and sellers alike benefit from the early information and transaction negotiations are smoothed by a quality inspection report.