How to Prepare Clients for a Home Inspection

Industry Articles

Preparing Home Inspection Clients

Whether buying or selling, your clients will eventually need a home inspection. They are an industry-standard method for recording the strengths and weaknesses of a property. An inspection protects both parties with a comprehensive review of the home’s condition.

The inspection team, usually hired by the buyer, will assess a home in a session of about three to four hours. The team looks at the roof, siding, masonry, foundation and even trees. Inside the house, they’ll scrutinize plumbing, air ducts, furnace, appliances, floors, walls and, of course, the basement. Afterwards, the inspection report, complete with photographs, delivers a fair and honest critique to the client.

Before the process begins, the buyer worries their potential new house won’t earn good scores. The seller worries the deal could crumble altogether. As an agent, it’s your job to ensure the inspection process goes smoothly and that your clients are aware of their rights. Set expectations that fair and reasonable negotiations will commence once the house’s secrets come to light. How do you do that? Here are a few tips.

Think Ahead

Both buyers and sellers can prepare for the inspection in a variety of ways. They have the power to make the inspector’s job a little easier by preparing for the session.

A buyer’s first obligation is to show up on time. Remind your client that after the inspection they won’t be able to enter the house (without permission) until the closing. They can use the inspection as a chance to take pictures, think about remodeling projects, or just look forward to the future. Many inspectors prefer the buyers accompany them throughout the property so they can explain their observations. Encourage your client to listen even though the information may be uninteresting at times. If you are working with a married couple, ask both partners to attend. When one isn’t listening, the other can take up the slack.

If you are working for the sellers, help them relax and remind them of the many things they can do before the inspector arrives. Besides cleaning the entire house, they should make room near the furnace, open the crawl space or root cellar, and clear egresses and steps to the attic and basement. Make sure any required keys are marked and available. Spend some time clearing the lawn and driveway of organic material hiding the house’s foundation and fence posts. Clear drains, test appliances, install a new furnace filter, and prepare to take pets elsewhere. When the inspection is not encumbered by clutter or a frantic escape from an angry dog, the final report will probably be more positive.

Home inspectors can better help clients by explaining their assessment in simple terms. No everyone understands how voltage is measured, why copper plumbing isn’t always preferable or why a drainage system is flawed. The same applies to their final report. 3-D graphs, clear photography, and well-composed descriptions allow clients to extract precise detail about the condition of a home.

Home Inspection Technology

Clients on both ends of the transaction might be surprised, and intimidated, by an inspector’s tools of the trade. Most carry computerized thermometers, scanners, and gauges to test air quality, water pressure, ventilation, and other environmental factors. An inspector might use special tools and substances to reveal water damage, broken circuits and dangerous fumes, or to calculate exactly how many degrees a foundation has shifted into the ground.

Practices such as sewer cameras, mold and radon testing, and soil sampling are common in the industry. If you are working with the sellers, ask them about old linoleum flooring, popcorn ceilings, or other materials in the house that might test positive for asbestos. Let them know that a positive result doesn’t necessarily break the deal, but they may have to pay for removal of the offending substance. Likewise, buyers should be encouraged not to overreact to the presence of lead paint, mold, or small details like carbon monoxide in the chimney flue. Remind them that every problem that inspector uncovers creates a chance to improve the home and renegotiate the selling price.

Breaking Bad News

Sometimes an inspection ends with bad news. The plumbing needs major repair, the foundation has eroded, or the walls are contaminated with black mold. When a problem threatens to end the transaction, help your client land softly after the inspector deals the blow. If the sale can’t go forward, help your buyer find an affordable solution that will return the home to the market. For sellers, turn their sights to another house by offering to take them out for new showings. If the deal is still viable, you can help by locating contractors, filing paperwork, rewriting the purchase agreement or executing other tasks in your range of legal responsibilities. Protect yourself by ensuring that all parties are fully aware of any dangers or hazards related to the problems.

Every real estate transaction is different, but helping the client navigate the inspection process makes everyone involved more confident about moving forward with the deal. With a certification in home inspection from Hondros College of Business, you’ll be on top of the trends and new technologies in the industry. The quality of your certification is unquestionable when it comes from Hondros, and we’re committed to your ongoing success.