Why Hire an Independent Home Inspector
Generally stated, an independent home inspector is one who doesn’t rely on real estate agents for most of their business. Independent home inspectors have instead built their businesses by providing detailed home inspections that place emphasis where it’s most appropriate. On the other hand, an inspector who may be beholden to a particular real estate agent for their livelihood might be tempted to provide little context around the importance of a crumbling foundation to their clients. They might make note of the problem in a report, but without explaining its potential consequences or relative repair costs.
My approach for something like a crumbling foundation is to explain in simple terms what the problem is, what would happen if it wasn’t repaired, and what type of company to contact for the repair. Although I don’t provide exact repair cost estimates, I try to provide a price range when asked. When the report is reviewed with my client, I would place this foundation problem in context with the other issues found with the home, with the goal of giving them the information needed to make an informed decision about how to move forward with the purchase. As a rule I do not encourage or discourage my clients to either back out of a purchase, or to move forward. I am not suggesting that those home inspectors who rely only on referrals for business are somehow doing a disservice to their clients. But I am saying that my independent business model removes any temptation to have any bias whatsoever in my reporting and assessments.
Why should a buyer hire an independent home inspection company?
If you are buying a house, where older homes dominate many towns, you owe it to yourself to hire a home inspector who depends solely on the quality of the inspection, and expertise for their income. Some agents unfortunately are more interested in ensuring that a purchase continues after the inspection than they are in helping their clients learn about the house.
According to Trulia “… if the inspector and agent have a strong work history, their relationship may feel more like a partnership, leaving you as the second most important party in this venture”. There are absolutely many agents who want the best outcome for their clients, but from first-hand experience I can say that there are some who would prefer for a home inspection report to be an overwhelmingly positive document, even in cases where potentially costly issues are found with a home’s roof or electrical system.
What’s the typical connection between agents and home inspectors?
Although I’m successful in avoiding dependence on agents for consistent income, I’ve gotten to know many over the years, and I’ve gained a sense for the pressures that they face when it comes to home inspections. Real estate agents depend purely on home sales for their income, and most home inspectors depend only on inspections for their livelihood (although some provide other helpful services such as radon testing and mold testing). It seems that there’s a strong possibility that the two professions might tend to join together in a way that benefits both of them. Most real estate agents want to help their buyers by providing solid information and recommendations. These agents sometimes maintain a list of expert home inspectors that they provide to their clients. These lists should contain at least three names of home inspection companies or individual inspectors. The list that an agent provides should be updated as the agent learns more about capabilities, professionalism and communication skills of the particular home inspectors. These referrals aren’t always bad. If an agent always has the best interests of their client in mind, and the home inspector is focused on a detailed, thorough and unbiased home inspection then this could be a matchup that helps the client.
What’s the best way to find a home inspector in your area?
It can be difficult to look ahead far enough to consider home inspection companies when you are in the process of house shopping. It gets more challenging as you move farther along the process and things start heating up with tough decisions about neighborhoods and purchase offers. But the earlier you start researching, the better you’ll be able to find an unbiased and highly qualified inspection company to best assess the condition of your home.