A home inspection can make or break a deal; you need an inspector you can trust
A real estate agent is your best friend during a house hunt, dutifully checking off your property’s must-haves, soothing frayed nerves during a bidding war, and later offering the name of their favorite home inspector. But, should you take their advice and hire their pick? Maybe. Read over the pros and cons of using your realtor’s home inspector recommendation.
The Pros of Using Your Realtor’s Home Inspector
Real estate experts say you should interview several local real estate agents before deciding who will walk you through one of the most exciting and stressful events of your life. After meeting with a few agents, most people find a genuine connection and begin to build a trusting relationship—which makes total sense, because hundreds of thousands of dollars is a hefty sum to ask just anyone to safeguard.
The rapport you build with your real estate agent is the number one pro for using their contacts to choose a home inspector. If you can’t trust your agent to help you buy a house, who can you trust?
Experienced agents have networks of real estate professionals who they rely on every day to serve their clients. They become their go-to’s because they’re good at what they do, reliable, and can relate to nervous buyers who want reassurance. Sounds like a good description of what a home inspector should be, right?
If your agent mentions one or two trusted home inspectors by name, it's a great place to start, but you don’t have to take their suggestions immediately; most agents want you to do your own research. Read online reviews about the inspector, ask about their experience, and find out how much the home inspection costs.
Choosing an Inspector From a List
Some agents like to give their clients a list of reputable inspectors to choose from because buyers often want plenty of options to pick their perfect match. It’s like dating; some personalities just click better than others.
Usually, agents have worked with the inspectors and feel good about sharing their names because they work toward an unbiased and accurate home inspection report. But, again, it's up to you to do a few pre-checks with potential inspectors before agreeing to pay their fee.
The Cons of Using Your Realtor’s Inspector
Unfortunately, now and then, agents don't have their buyer’s backs, work only for the commission, and purposefully offer the name of an inspector who gives glowing reports.
Receiving a biased or untruthful inspection report is the chief con for using an inspector your agent recommends.
If your agent hands you a list of recommendations, know that there’s a chance the inspectors have paid for this marketing, and most reputable inspectors won't pay to play, so a lot of qualified inspectors are probably left off the preferred vendor list.
It’s worth noting that most inspectors who belong to a professional inspector organization, like the International Association of Certified Inspectors or the American Society of Home Inspectors, are restricted from paying preferred vendor fees. Inspectors who are members of professional organizations like these hold their members to high standards of knowledge and ethics will likely not be on the list.
How Do I Find a Home Inspector?
If, ultimately, you’d feel better vetting your own inspector, don’t worry; there are a few reputable ways to find one on your own. First, word of mouth is the best way to find referrals. Ask friends, neighbors, acquaintances, anyone with connections to your neighborhood. Second, don’t forget to review top-rated home inspectors in your area.
Check in with these professionals and organizations, especially if you need an inspector with specialty training, such as inspecting historic homes.
National Association of Home Inspectors
American Society of Home Inspectors
Once you’ve narrowed down your favorites, ask them about their experience and credentials during the interview. Ask about things like their education and professional memberships. Here’s a couple of conversation starters.
Education: Make sure your home inspector has the licensing and certification to work in your state. Ask how long they’ve been in business and how many hours per year they commit to continuing their education in the inspection industry.
Professional organization membership: Being a member of a professional organization gives the inspector a set of Standards of Practice to follow (in addition to any SOP required by a state licensing program) and shows a dedication to professionalism.
And finally, mention any specifics you're concerned about. Note that most inspectors won’t walk on a roof, check on water wells or septic systems. Instead, they’ll refer to inspectors with expertise in those areas.