This is Part 3 of Should the Seller Hire an Inspector? Feel free to offer comments and suggestions.
How to Pick your Inspector
One of the best compliments I ever received came from a client who had used me on a small commercial project. The project was interesting - a turn-of-the-century storefront. He called me up later to inspect his home before he sold it. His reasoning? He wanted to take the best home inspector off the market forcing the buyers to select a lesser inspector.
I am going to presume that you, like most people, do not have a home inspector on speed dial. If you decide that a pre-listing inspection makes sense for you, let’s look at the factors that you will need to evaluate in order to hire the right inspector.
Experience. You need to have an inspector that has the professional background - education, time in the field, previous occupations - to be as thorough as possible. You should expect no less than five years of inspector experience in you region. Previous experience in the building trades or as a code certified inspector is a plus.
Licensed. Not every state has licensure but if yours does, your inspector must be licensed. If things get contentious, the more qualified your inspector, the more likely you are to prevail. Licensing is the entry level requirement. Look for additional certifications from ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) or NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors). Ask to see copies of his professional license as well as any applicable business licenses.
Reports. You need a detailed report preferably in a narrative format that will detail the specific condition that needs correction. The inspector should be willing to do a follow-up inspection to document that repairs were made. Expect to pay extra for this service.
Insured. As I mentioned before, the inspector should be carrying E&O insurance as well as General Liability insurance. Ask to see copies of his insurance binders.
You will note that I did not specify the fee. While the fee is important to you, we are looking for a level of exceptional service. A typical home inspection is going to cost somewhere between $300 and $500 depending on your region, the size of your home and the level of services involved. Each region will have different pricing structures with some adding for building elements such as crawlspaces or charging extra for older homes. Definitely ask but be aware that the low cost bidder is likely the one that lacks the other primary credentials that you need.
Another element to look for is a guarantee from the inspector. When I do a pre-listing inspection, I offer the following promise:
I guarantee my inspection like this: if another inspector working for the buyer finds something that I missed that is included in my Standards of Practice, I’ll pay for the repairs up to the cost of your inspection.
Most inspectors are not going to voluntarily offer a guarantee so it’s up to you to ask. The best inspectors will have some way of backing up their work. Those are the ones that you want to work with.
Speaking of services, I will be covering environmental issues in Chapter 8 along with some of the specialty inspections that are offered in the marketplace. I do not necessarily recommend that you do all of them but I want you to be aware of them so that you are not surprised if your buyer decides to access a higher level of information.
For now, you have enough information to have a candid conversation with your real estate agent. Discuss with them the advantages and disadvantages of performing a pre-listing inspection on your home and make the decision from an informed basis.
This is the final installment of the article, Should the Seller Hire an Inspector? If you found it helpful, drop me a note. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear from you.