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  • Dan Osborn

So You Want to Be a NY Home Inspector – Part 2

If you are considering becoming a Home Inspector you must take a personal inventory. Some of the obstacles that commonly impede success in this field are discussed below:

Are you…

1. Stupid? 2. Old? 3. Young? 4. Female? 5. A racial minority? 6. Having difficulty being understood because of limited English proficiency?

Of course I use the word “stupid” in a tongue-in-cheek manner because no one who is taking the time to read my words could be stupid. I refer to thinking in a certain way.

The reason I put ‘stupid’ at the top of the list is that the only muscle that is important in the business of Home Inspection is the brain. It is not a particularly physically demanding job. It does take knowledge and the ability to think on your feet.

Most that look into being a Home Inspector are contractors that want to give their body a rest. That means they want to stop using all those other muscles but it also means they need to start using their brains in a different way.

They need to start thinking analytically. Much like a scientist must report solely on observations and not speculate on causes or future results, Home Inspectors must only report on what they can see. Many contractors have such a wealth of understanding about the underlying construction of a house that they read into areas that are not visibly observed.

They also tend to approach defects as something to be fixed (along with estimates). It has been my experience in the class room that the key to who will succeed and who will fail is which student can learn to start thinking like a home inspector.

Obstacles can be overcome – or at least avoided and hidden. I have already explained how I deal with being overweight and old in a previous blog.

I believe the next most difficult obstacle is being a woman. Hold on now! Before anyone accuses me of being sexist there is no one who has higher regard and respect for women and their abilities.

However, the reality is that there is long standing gender bias in the building trades and Home Inspection is no exception. People are reluctant to respect women in this field and will try to bully them or dismiss them.

The other reality is that women make excellent home inspectors. They are just flat out better than the guys. They are more attentive to detail, organized and thorough. I know several Home Inspectors who are women. They overcome this bias by being smart and confident.

That’s a powerful package. The women who do not succeed share one common flaw – No self-confidence.

Of the more than 200 students I have taught, only five students have been African American.

The problems for black home inspectors and other racial minorities are numerous and completely out of their control. It cannot be denied that housing and neighborhoods often still run along racial lines. It is very difficult to prevent discrimination in real estate transactions.

White realtors may not have the courage to refer a black Home Inspector in fear that the client may be racist, and will be unlikely to put their commission check at risk. It is difficult to prove that a client or realtor is discriminating based on race because it is the clients’ choice who they wish to hire and no reasons need be given.

There is greater opportunity for African American Home Inspectors, just as there is less opportunity for Caucasian Home Inspectors, within African American communities.

This is a sad truth but it is the truth. Marketing your business– just as you would any product -requires finding a market.

Being young is an extremely difficult obstacle. People will assume that you don’t have a clue about your business. The history of Home Inspection, in brief, is that the buyer would bring along the father, father-in-law or some older male in the family to check out the house and give his wise and experienced opinion on its suitability.

This image of the older, wiser man who is experienced in home buying and ownership is a deeply ingrained stereotype. The fact is you probably don’t have experience if you are less than 30 years old.

That does not mean that you can’t be a good home inspector it just means you will be immediately challenged by your client and or realtor as to your knowledge base.

The only remedy is to know a lot more about the house than your client and realtor and to speak with an air of confidence. Marketing yourself with giveaway and discounted services is a way to prove your ability and gain experience until you can ask for and get what you are really worth.

If English is your second language and you have difficulty being understood due to an accent, extra effort needs to be put into your communication skills regarding your profession as a Home Inspector. Rehearse your pitch.

Just as any good salesman has a highly crafted and polished sales pitch you must practice the things you need to say to and ask of your clients.

Be prepared for the questions that are likely to come up during a typical inspection and be prepared with a practiced response. The other areas that need to be polished are the other forms of communicating your expertise; namely reports and reporting language.

Having an excellent report that is clear and easily understandable can help compensate for verbal language barriers.

This all goes back to the reason we are here. “To consult with your clients about the defects that are visible in the home they are considering buying.”

And to do this consultation you need to “COMMUNICATE”.


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