Finding the Right Home Inspector -- ASHI Recommends 10 Questions to Help Protect Client, Real Estate Professionals
Real estate agents need to have all the answers. At least that is what many homebuyers think. And because selecting a home inspector is one of the most important decisions in the homebuying process, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) recommends that real estate professionals direct their clients to www.ashi.org to locate a home inspector in order to speed the sales process and reduce the agent's liability. Making referrals from among ASHI Inspectors will help ensure that the inspector has met ASHI's membership requirements and subscribes to the nationally recognized standards set by the national organization.
"Homebuyers often look to their real estate professional to guide them through every step of the home buying process," said Steve Gladstone, president of ASHI, the oldest and most respected non-profit, professional organization for home inspectors in North America. "But referring a home inspector is often not the same as offering advice on mortgage loans, appraisals or other services. Because there are so many practicing home inspectors, and because nearly half of the states do not require licensing, the real estate professional's reputation can be at stake if anyone other than the most qualified and objective professionals are being recommended."
Gladstone noted that the organization encourages real estate agents to direct their clients to the ASHI Web site (www.ashi.org) where they can choose from a list of home inspectors by using its all-new "Find an Inspector" tool. Part of a complete redesign in ASHI's Web site, the tool allows potential clients to quickly place a call or send an e-mail to an ASHI Inspector in real time. A search can be conducted using one of many criteria, including: zip or area code, metro area or neighborhood, or even an inspector's last name or company name. Partnered with the first-of-its-kind "Virtual Home Inspection," the site is rich with consumer educational resources for both homeowners and real estate professionals alike.
"The Web site makes it easy to recommend ASHI Inspectors, all of whom have agreed to meet the ASHI Standards of Practice, while still allowing the homebuyer to make the final choice," said Gladstone. "It's a real win-win process, since real estate agents can increase their confidence factor with buyers and may even reduce their liability," he claims.
Interview the Inspector
According to Gladstone, once a consumer has narrowed down the list of potential inspectors, it is important to interview each one to understand what the inspection will cover and to verify the inspector's experience. Real estate professionals may want to advise their clients to ask the following questions before hiring an inspector:
1. Is the inspector a Member of the American Society of Home inspectors (ASHI)?
2. What does the inspection cover? Make sure the inspection and the inspection report meets the customer's needs and complies with the ASHI Standards of Practice.
3. How long has the inspector been practicing the home inspection profession and how many inspections have been completed? Full ASHI Members are required to have completed at least 250 paid professional home inspections and passed two written exams that test the inspectorÕs knowledge and competency. ASHI Candidates with Logo use (CL) have passed the same exams and have performed at least 50 fee-paid inspections verified by ASHI to be in substantial compliance with the Standards of Practice.
4. Is the inspector specifically experienced in residential inspection? Related experience is helpful, but is no substitute for training and expertise in the unique discipline of home inspection.
5. Does the inspector's company offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection? This is against the ASHI Code of Ethics because it might cause a conflict of interest.
6. How long will the inspection take? The average for a single inspector is two to three hours for a typical single-family house; anything less may not be enough time to do a thorough inspection. Some inspection firms send a team of inspectors and the time frame may be shorter.
7. How much will it cost? Costs vary dramatically, depending on the region, size of the house, scope of services and other factors. A typical range might be $350 to more than $500, depending on added services. When evaluating the cost, the customer should consider the overall value of the home inspection in terms of the investment being made.
8. Does the inspector prepare a written report? Asking to see sample report forms ensures the customer will be comfortable with the style of an actual finished report.
9. Does the inspector encourage the client to attend the inspection? This is a valuable educational opportunity, and an inspector's refusal to allow this should raise a red flag.
10. Does the inspector participate in continuing education programs to keep his or her expertise up to date? One can never know it all, and the inspector's commitment to continuing education is a good measure of his or her professionalism and service to the consumer. ASHI Members are required to complete at least 20 hours of continuing education every year.
For More Information
Formed in 1976, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the oldest and most respected non-profit professional society for home inspectors in North America. Its mission is to promote excellence and exemplary practice within the profession. ASHI's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the recognized guidelines for the home inspection profession.
For more information on the American Society of Home Inspectors, contact the association at 932 Lee Street, Suite 101, Des Plaines, Ill. 60016. Phone: 800-743-2744. Or visit the ASHI Web site at www.ashi.org. While online, experience ASHI's Virtual Home Inspection tool, which provides an interactive overview of the 10 main areas of the home that are part of an ASHI Inspection.