In a perfect world, a home inspector serves as a neutral party in a real estate transaction. They perform an unbiased inspection of a property and share their findings with their client.
Most buyers rely on the home inspector to tell them whether or not to buy the home. Or, at least they hope the inspector’s report will point them in the right direction.
Buyers (and sellers) find a home inspector who they hope will tell them what they want to hear. It’s not a home inspector’s job to sway a client in one direction or another. They inspect and report, leaving the final decision up to the client.
Hiring a good home inspector isn’t difficult if you know what to avoid. In today’s post, we share 6 mistakes not to make when you look for a home inspector.
1. Opting Out of a Home Inspection
If you’re a first-time buyer, you may assume your lender requires a home inspection. Most don’t, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need an inspection.
Consider this — roughly 10% of home buyers skip the home inspection. In 2019, 5.34 million homes sold in the U.S. That means only 543,000 buyers moved into homes without fully knowing the condition of their home.
Home inspectors make sure the home you’re buying doesn’t have any hidden problems. While you might save a few hundred dollars by declining a home inspection, imagine what you could save if an inspector finds a significant safety issue.
2. Hiring Your Realtor’s Favorite Home Inspector
As the buyer, it’s your responsibility and your choice to choose your home inspector. That said, if you’re working with a real estate agent, many agents keep a list of home inspectors they recommend to clients.
Ethical real estate agents don’t attempt to sway a buyer toward any particular inspector. Instead, if a buyer asks, they offer a shortlist of inspectors who they’ve worked with and feel confident recommending.
Your real estate agent’s list likely leaves out a large number of qualified inspectors. Also, if they keep a record of preferred vendors, every vendor on the list probably paid a fee to the real estate agent or broker.
While hiring your real estate agent’s favorite inspector isn’t the worst thing you could do, it’s better if you do your due diligence and find an inspector based on your unique needs and expectations.
Note: Most professional home inspector associations don’t allow members to pay for recommendations.
3. Not Knowing the What to Expect
Even if it’s your first time hiring a home inspector, it’s essential to have an idea of what the home inspection should include.
For example, basic inspections take 2-3 hours but could take longer depending on the size of the home. Ask the inspectors you interview for an approximate timetable.
You’re making a substantial financial investment in a home where you’re not sure how well the previous owner(s) took care of things. It’s understandable then, to expect a comprehensive inspection, which covers every detail of the home, including the existence of lead paint, radon, or mold.
Know before you hire an inspector exactly what your inspection covers.
Typically a home inspection doesn’t include a foundation analysis, complete roof inspection, or checking for termites. Lead paint, mold, and radon detection also aren’t part of most home inspections.
Ask your inspector to view a sample inspection report. It’s a great opportunity to learn what’s normal in an inspection, and it gives you ideas about what questions you should ask an inspector you’re interested in hiring.
4. Hiring a Young Inspector
Okay, we’re not talking about age here, we’re addressing time in the field. An inspector without hundreds of inspections under their belt may not have the eyes and ears to detect problems. They probably don’t have the nose either.
Like any other job, it takes time to develop the skills of a qualified home inspector. That means about 200-300 inspections every year.
What you don’t want is a blind inspector — one who misses critical details because they don’t have the experience to know better.
You shouldn’t hesitate to ask about the number of years in business and the number of annual inspections. For an inspector to perform a minimum of 200-300 yearly inspections, they likely have a significant amount of referrals from happy clients and other professionals who know their work.
Referrals—that brings us to the next mistake many buyers make when hiring a home inspector.
5. Failing to Check References
Gut instincts can tell you a lot about a person or a business, but basing your decision to hire an inspector based solely on instincts isn’t enough. Take the time to check references!
You have a wealth of information at your fingertips on the inspector’s website. It’s also helpful to read what previous clients say on Google. It’s even better if you can speak directly with past clients.
Ask to see referrals and then reach out to them. You can also read what clients say in the testimonials section on the inspector’s website.
6. Hiring the Cheapest Inspector
After you’ve narrowed down your selections, it’s time to look at pricing. You may feel tempted to hire the inspector who offers the lowest price. Price isn’t everything, and in most cases, you do get what you pay for!
If a home inspector comes in significantly lower than the others you interview, it usually means either they’re brand new, or they don’t know much about their actual costs.
When you find a home inspector who charges less, you may end up with one who doesn’t know as much, doesn’t do a thorough inspection, and doesn’t use the tools or technology required to perform a comprehensive inspection.
Ready to Find a Home Inspector?
Now that you’re aware of mistakes many buyers make when looking for a home inspector, you should feel more confident during the hiring process. You won’t go wrong if you pay attention to experience, understand the components of a home inspection, and check referrals.
If you’re ready to find a home inspector, look no further! We have the experience and the testimonials to back it up. Schedule a home inspection with us today!