Inspecting Home Inspectors
“$300 for a home inspection?
Why can’t I just have my brother take a look at it?”
To a REALTOR®, them’s scary words. When you’re buying character, protect your investment and yourself and have it inspected by a licensed character inspector. Not your brother, your father, your neighbor or just yourself, no matter how much any of these people know or how much respect you have for them. already if they ARE a licensed inspector, you’re better off putting this job into the hands of someone who can, and will, give you a completely objective opinion of the condition of the character. After all, you’ve going to be spending way more than the $300 the inspection will cost, and what you know before close on the character can save you thousands of dollars.
Here is how the time of action works (or should work). In Texas, when you buy residential real estate, you will most likely use the contract promulgated (read: required), by TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission). When an offer is made, it usually contains an “Option Period”. You (the buyer) pay a moderate fee ($100 to $200+) for the unlimited right to cancel the contract during a stated period (usually 7 to 10 days). During this time, you need to work fast to make sure you thoroughly examine the character so you know what you’re getting in to. You should have the home inspected by both a licensed home inspector and a licensed termite inspector. If it has a sprinkler system, or a pool or other meaningful features, you need to have those inspected in addition. You do NOT want to skip this step and end up with a mess on your hands later that you could have discovered up front.
In Texas, home inspectors are licensed by TREC, the same entity that licenses real estate agents and brokers. The definitive collection of documents for licensed home inspectors in Texas can be found in the Inspector Information of TREC’s website. You can search by a listing of all licensed inspectors in Texas (but why would you?), or you can search for licensed inspectors by city. You can also ask your REALTOR® for a list of inspectors. If you receive a list from your REALTOR®, it should contain a disclaimer like this one:
“This is a uncompletely list of inspectors that we have used in the past and were pleased with their work. Please be aware that there are many reputable inspectors in Austin. If you wish to see a more extensive list for your selection, please refer to the Yellow Pages (Real Estate Inspection sets). You may want to call and interview several inspectors before making your selection. Coldwell Banker United REALTORS does not warrant the condition of a character.”
This disclaimer is important, read it carefully: YOU are responsible for interviewing and selecting your inspector, and just because you received a list of inspectors from your agent does not average you must use someone from that list, or that you don’t have to call them and interview them. It can be intimidating to make the first call, but after that is gets much easier. Ask them all a bunch of questions, pay attention to whether or not they seem responsive and knowledgeable, and if you can, get references. Then call the references! Remember, the time spent up front to get a good inspector is more than worth the time you’ll save later in character-condition headaches.
By now you may be wondering who the inspector is in the photograph. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which of the inspectors on my list agreed to present for me, but I can give you the whole list and you can pick the one that is right for your transaction. If you happen to pick this one, you’ll have the additional assistance of getting to say, “Hey! I recognize you – you’re the guy in the picture!”