Selecting a Home Inspector; a New Twist

Submitted by DavidAndersen on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 17:37.
Your realtor tells you you need a home inspector and gives you a list to choose from…

How do you select from the list of inspectors?

Unless you have a specific concern about the house you're buying where you would find in inspector with qualifications in that specific area, it's probably price.

So what determines the price of a home inspection and how do you know that you're getting your money's worth?

I got a call from a real estate agency in Brentwood Tennessee updating their home inspector list to see who is still in business. This got me thinking and I went to the Tennessee Department of commerce and insurance (who issues home inspection licenses) to see what kind of activity has been going on.

I found some statistics interesting.
When the home inspection law was enacted in Tennessee, there were home inspectors out there already who had to be "grandfathered" into the system to keep the inspections flowing. So for the first few testing sessions, all those taking the test were veterans in the home inspection business complying with the new government mandate.

Home inspection licenses were issued with numeric reference beginning at #00001. So I looked at the first 100 home inspection licenses issued and found that all but 14 were still in business. Over this period of time it is most likely that these 14 have retired.

So I looked at the activity of the 1,070 home inspection licenses issued and found that only about 398 home inspectors were still on the active status (five licenses were still pending approval). What happened to the rest of them?

It appears that licenses issued after the first 500 have come and gone in a very short period of time. Was this from the economy?

Of the new home inspectors I come in contact with that were in the home construction field, I find an ill perceived notion that because of their background they can make a go of it as a home inspector. When the housing economy suffers and less housing starts occur (putting these people out of work) there are less houses for sale. Real estate agents subsequently have lower inventory and only a percentage of home sales involve a real estate agency. Of those houses sold, even fewer get inspected by a home inspector. So I would dare to guess that these inspectors have come and gone because they did not consider the low-volume of homes that actually get inspected in comparison to the ones for sale or newly constructed.

So I asked myself, why is the nutrition rates so low in the first batch of home inspection licenses in comparison to the ones beyond the first 500?

It takes a lot to start up a small business and unless there is an immediate positive cash flow into the business to cover the cost of vehicles, tools, insurance, licensing, continuing education, computers, accountants, lawyers etc. it becomes a rapid downhill spiral.

Why have the low numbered home inspection licensed Inspectors prevailed? Probably the same reason they will still be here in the weeks, months and years to come. When we look for a home inspector to inspect our homes we not only need experienced and seasoned home inspectors (such as the ones with low license numbers) but a home inspector that is not here today and gone tomorrow!

So as we proceed through the selection process (or what I like to call the elimination process) of finding the appropriate home inspector, maybe this sequential license number should be considered. Simply knowing that your inspector is licensed insurers that he/she is also insured and maintains the continuing education requirements mandated by the State of Tennessee Licensing Board. This information is readily available online for your review. It also contains information about any pending disciplinary actions or investigations that are being conducted on the inspection firm.

Back to the price thing! You're not going to find an inspector with a low license number with a low inspection fee in most cases. Why? Because this Inspector knows what it takes to survive in this business and the new guy does not. Low Inspection fees are the first indication that this inspector is on his way out the door, so picking the lowest fee is like buying an insurance policy from a company that is bankrupt. They will take your money, but will not be there when it comes time to fulfill their obligations.

Submitted by DavidAndersen on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 17:37.