Study Reveals Homeowners Recognize Importance of Home Inspections
ASHI Cautions Consumers that Inspections Are Only as Good as the Inspector
An April 2004 study conducted by the U.S. General Accounting Office in Washington, D.C., revealed that, among homebuyers using Federal Housing Authority (FHA)-insured mortgages, 86 percent voluntarily sought home inspections - with 80 percent reporting that the inspections increased their confidence, and supported peace of mind, in their purchase decision. That's good news for the estimated 25,000 or so home inspectors in the U.S., but it's only good for the homeowner if the inspection is performed by a highly-qualified, experienced professional.
Considering that this year's real estate market is estimated to sustain seven million buying and selling transactions (with first quarter new-home sales already setting a record), obtaining a home inspection remains an imperative resource in not only supporting the homeowners' satisfaction in their transaction, but also in ensuring the value and safety of the home when the inspection is utilized as a routine maintenance tool.
"The study results indicate a trend that will keep home inspectors busy, given that more than 74 million Americans will own their own home after this year's buying and selling season," according to Don Norman, 2005 president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the nation's oldest and most respected non-profit organization for professional home inspectors. The study also revealed that, although the majority of buyers surveyed reported the inspections to be positive and beneficial, they occasionally expressed concern and reservations relating to the inspections in terms of cost and quality, indicating a possible misunderstanding of the process or a lack of education as to how to locate and hire a professional, quality home inspector.
For many consumers who chose not to consult a home inspector during their purchase process, cost is not the only issue. Many private lenders, whether or not FHA-insured, will require the homeowner to obtain an appraisal, which can often times be mistaken as a thorough home inspection. While an appraisal confirms the home's market value to ensure to the lender that they are not over-lending or over-insuring the property, it is not intended as a means to protect the consumer's interest in terms of the overall condition and safety of the prospective home.
Choosing the Right Home Inspector is Key
"While the majority of homeowners are on the right track with obtaining a home inspection for buying, selling and maintenance purposes, the difference in quality, and therefore, the protection of a homeowners' financial interests, can best be realized when the inspection is performed by an experienced, professional home inspector, " said Norman.
ASHI-authored Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are recognized as the industry standard. Dating back to 1986, they have been periodically updated to meet the needs of today's consumers and professional inspectors. The Society promotes The ASHI Experience, an inspection which aggressively strives for the highest technical quality, exceptional customer service and providing consumer education as part of the process.
Unlike other home inspection organizations that seem to allow entrance via an unsupervised online test which grants a "certification" with the accompanying dues payment, ASHI Inspectors must successfully complete two written examinations that test their knowledge of building systems and components and of the ASHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Their inspection reports are also verified as meeting the ASHI Standards of Practice, and they must perform a minimum of 50 fee-paid inspections, only becoming a full Member after completing an additional 200 fee-paid inspections.
"ASHI Inspectors must demonstrate their competence and experience to a higher standard within the profession," said Norman, adding, "and that can only serve to protect consumers and help them to make more comfortable and better-informed purchase decisions."
While a quality home inspection can cost between $300 and $500 on average, consumers should consider the value of the home inspection in terms of their overall long-term investment in the home as well as the educational value of the service being provided. According to the GAO study, 67 percent of inspections identified problems to be addressed, and 29 percent of those problems identified would cost more than $500 to fix. Therefore, the value to the consumer is three-fold. To the homebuyer an inspection signifies a proactive measure to potentially negotiate a more favorable price. To the home seller it's a simple step to help speed up the process and likelihood of an offer. Finally, to an existing homeowner who's not buying or selling, a quality inspection ensures that issues that could impact the safety and functionality of the major systems of the home can be identified and addressed in order to ultimately maintain or even prolong the home's life and value.
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 visi
t 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.