After you’re in the industry for a while, home inspections will become second nature. From the customer’s perspective, every inspection might as well be their first. Some questions tend to pop up again and again, and most of them are rooted in a combination of indecision, lack of information and genuine fear of making a bad choice.
Here are 5 questions that the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) says are common in the industry and how to handle them when they pop up.
#1: What Does Your Home Inspection Cover?
What they really mean: Will this inspection cover everything, or do I need to call someone else?
Many home buyers, especially first-time buyers, don’t have a great working knowledge of the home inspection industry. To them, one inspection might cover everything. If they learn later that something wasn’t covered, such as mold or pests, they might be upset about the whole process and feel that the inspector slacked on the job.
Educate customers on the front end about what an inspection covers and what it doesn’t. You probably have similar language in the pre-inspection agreement, but it doesn’t hurt to double up and drive the message home.
#2: How Much Will it Cost?
What they really mean: I wish I could find someone else who’ll do the job for less.
Home buying is a seemingly never-ending series of checks written and fees paid. When buyers reach the home inspection stage, they might be frustrated about paying one more person to help the sale move forward.
Buyers might not understand the real value of a home inspection. In some ways, you have the customer’s back more than anyone else, even their agent, who gets a commission check at the end of the deal. Explain why inspections are so important, even if the results aren’t as positive as they’d hoped.
#3: What if The House Fails the Inspection?
What they really mean: If the inspector finds trouble, will I lose my dream house?
One of the most common misconceptions about home inspections is that a house can pass or fail. After weeks or even months of searching for a dream home, buyers might be afraid that the inspection results will kill the sale in its tracks.
Although inspections are for information purposes only, buyers are partly right in their concerns. If your inspection turns up trouble, chances are the appraiser will find it, as well. The lender might not loan the full amount if the property value comes in too low. The inspection gives buyers a heads up earlier in the process so they can walk away if they need to.
#4: Should I Buy This House?
What they really mean: Please tell me that this is a good investment.
Any recommendation about whether or not to buy a house could put you in serious hot water. If the buyer takes your advice and signs the paperwork but later hates the property, you might be on the hook for swaying their decision.
Be clear in your communication about the property. Explain that your findings are to clarify the condition of the property. They shouldn’t be construed as either an endorsement to buy or a warning to abandon the sale.
#5: Can You Recommend a Contractor/Repair Person?
What they really mean: I don’t know how to do the work or I don’t have time and I need a referral ASAP.
This question is sticky. Some home inspectors have no problem making a recommendation, especially if they’re well-connected with the local contractor community. For other inspectors, a recommendation is an open door for a complaint or worse.
Follow your instincts when a customer asks about repair work. If you know a contractor and are confident in their work, a recommendation breeds goodwill with your customer. If you’re not sure, it’s safer to back away. The contractor you recommend could cause problems for your customer, and you could find yourself partly responsible.
Home inspectors work with scores of customers over the years. Because the buying process is stressful, it’s natural for the people you help to ask you for opinions and advice. Explain the process up front as clearly as you can. Give your customers plenty of information to make their own educated choices without influencing their decisions. And when it comes to recommending other professionals, use your best judgment.
If home inspecting sounds like an important job, you’re right. Every day, an inspector arms a customer with information that helps them move ahead, whatever their decision, with confidence. If you’re ready to switch to a career that helps people from all walks of life, ICA School is a great place to start. Enroll now and earn your certification at your own pace.