Can I Trust My Agents Inspector?
You made an offer on a home and it has been accepted, Your real estate agent is recommending you have a professional home inspection. They even recommended 3 different inspectors they you could hire, but can you trust your agents recommendation?
In every industry there are good and bad people, I am sure you know of a bad hair dresser or car salesman and you may even know a bad real estate agent or home inspector. I am also guessing you still get hair cuts and and own a car. The philosophy I recommend is one that Ronald Regan used to say, â€œtrust but verify”. Your agent may provide you with 3 different business cards or brochures, but what does that really tell you? I suggest you get the information from your agent and then do a little homework. It wont take long I promise.
First check out the inspectors experience. In many states inspectors need to pass an exam (just like hairdressers and real estate agents) however Home inspectors that are Certified Members of ASHI (The American society of Home Inspectors) have completed over 250 fee paid inspections. It is possible that the inspector you are checking on has years of experience, but doesnâ€™t belong to ASHI but you may want to ask why. ASHI Inspectors are required to get a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education every year, it is a professional association for home inspectors, to put it simply, ASHI is to home inspections what National Association of Realtors is to real estate.
One of the most important duties of the home inspector is to communicate the condition of the home. You can not tell by looking at a business card or brochure how the inspector will communicate the information you need to make your decision. Ask your agent if they have any reports you can look at, if not, then call each of the inspectors your agent recommended and ask for a sample of their report. You will be surprised at the wide range of reports that are out there from checklists to books, hand written 3 part carbonless copies to computer generated reports with photos.
This is one of the most overlooked details. If you need someone to help you understand the sample report, how are you going to understand what the condition of the home is that you want to purchase.
Are they Licensed:
Many states now license inspectors, however many inspectors that used to be licensed are no longer current with the state and therefore my be operating illegally if thy perform an inspection for you. In some states you can check to see of the inspector is licensed. If you are in Arizona you can check at the AZ Board of Technical Registration, if you are in a different state check out ASHIâ€™s site (here)to get the contact information for your area. You may also be able to check to see if the inspector has been disciplined by the state in the past but this will take a little more time.
What is included in the home inspection?
Most state now have standards that professional home inspectors must meet and most of these standards are based on the ASHI Standards of Practice. But do you want someone that just meets the standards or exceeds them. Can they perform thermal imaging, mold or radon tests, and at what additional cost?
This is the item that many people base their decision on, however in my opinion, it is the least important factor. People that are professional and are in high demand cost more than the new guy that has does not have the experience, or has more claims against him than clients. This is the most expensive purchase most people make, I do not understand why many base their decision on the lowest priced inspector they could find.
The bottom line is both the home inspector and the real estate agent have liability when they work for you. Most agents (and inspectors) in business today are not looking for a quick buck. The downturn in the housing market has flushed most of the non-professionals from the business. I would hope that you can trust your agents recommendation however, like I said before it is a good idea to trust but verify. It is possible that your agent doesnâ€™t know that the inspector they recommended is no longer in compliance with the states regulations or has been disciplined by the state, I am pretty sure the inspector didnâ€™t tell them.
If your agent did not recommend a home inspector, or if you are not happy with the recommendations they provided, use ASHIâ€™s find an inspector and find a ASHI Certified Inspector near you.
Scott has served in several positions of leadership in Arizona ASHI, and currently is on the Board of Directors for The American Society of Home Inspectors He is state certified and serves on the BTR Enforcement Advisory Committee for Home Inspectors. You can find him atwww.acsillc.com