How to Make Sure You Have a Qualified Home Inspector

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Real estate investors have always found it challenging when it comes to working with home inspectors. A rehabber does what he considers a “bang up job” only to have the buyer present him with a list of things they want repaired. Having been in the home inspection business for 17 years, I am the first to tell you that not all home inspectors are created equally.

Licensing laws in many states have helped to take care of that problem to some degree; to help weed out the ones that shouldn’t be in the business. But there are those that still slide through.

If your buyer is bringing in a home inspector, how do you know if that person is qualified?This is not the time for them to save a couple of bucks and have “Uncle Harry” walk through the house and give his opinion on the condition of the house they are purchasing.  Prior to the licensing laws virtually anyone with a ladder could call themselves a home inspector and go to work!

It is not only your right as a real estate investor, but your duty to verify that you have a professional home inspector looking at your house.

Here are some questions you should ask the home inspector:

1. Is this inspector licensed?
You should know your states requirements for licensing. If your state requires licensing (and most do now) you will be able to look your inspector up on your state’s website to see if they are listed. Having a licensed inspector also ensures that you have someone that has passed a test, and is required to keep up their continuing education. Things change quickly in that business.

2. How long as the inspector been in business?
Let’s face it; you want someone with some experience. The more experienced your home inspector is, the less likely you are to have problems.

3. Do they have E&O Insurance?
Errors and Omissions Insurance is very important and you will be very surprised to know that a high percentage of inspectors don’t have it.  Ask yourself this question, “If the home inspector can’t afford E&O Insurance, how will they be able to fix a problem that they miss during the inspection”?

4. Is the inspector a member of ASHI?  (The American Society of Home Inspectors)
ASHI is a professional organization that requires its members to pass a stringent test before getting that designation.  There are many organizations that home inspectors can belong to, but a lot of them just require you to send in an annual fee to become a member. Being an ASHI member lets everyone know that you are qualified to do the job.

5. Does your inspector provide a detailed written report with pictures?
Not only do professional home inspectors provide a detailed report which can be 20 pages or more, they almost always provide pictures. Insist that your buyer get a qualified, professional home inspector.

6. Does the inspector belong to local home inspector professional organizations?
This tells you that they take their business seriously by investing in themselves and their education.

Learn to be a team

Today, home inspections are an integral part of most real estate transactions. As real estate investors, if we learn to look at the home inspector as just another part of our team, it will completely change the dynamics of the whole experience. And don’t forget about presale home inspections. I talked about these in a recent article. I still believe that they can save real estate investors a lot of grief by addressing the home inspection before a buyer enters the picture. Don’t forget, with presale home inspections YOU get to choose the home inspector! Not the buyer.

Photo: US Army Corps of Engineers

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. This is a great reminder, especially to those new to home ownership or real estate investing and those who are largely hands off. I would add that home buyers of any sort should always go through the home with the inspector as well so they can learn and ask questions as well.

    When I first started out I got home inspections and my first one saved me big time. Over the last 5 years I have learned a great deal from those meager beginings and in my last two properties, I chose to forego an inspection. I think it is easier for me to get away with as I look for underpriced properties that need work anyway, thus buying them with a sizable cushion. This isn’t the way to go for all and its never wasted money to hire and inspector, worst case you have hired someone to prioritze and list the projects on the home that need your attention, which is worth the couple hundred bucks right there.

    I think biggest point I would make is that we as investors or home buyers can’t rely on others to make good decisions. We need to know how much we can borrow not have the bank tell us. We need to know our financing structure, not have our mortgage broker direct it. We need to know what a house is worth to us, not let the seller’s agent justify it to us. We need to understand how a house’s systems operate and the basics of codes, not blindely trust an inspector. The last 6-7 years in real estate should have taught this to the world. In the end, you are exactly right we need to check out the people we hire, see what their qualifications are, see their work, verify their accreditations and ratings. It is a crazy world out their and it takes a lot of work to navigate it successfully.

  2. Kyle –

    I agree with you completely. We all need to use the “tools” that are available to us. Ultimately, we are responsible for the decisions we make. Whether it is a home inspector, plumber or other person we hire in our real estate business, we need to be sure they are competent professionals.

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