Home inspection tips for realtors

Most home inspections go smoothly. However, there are some that don’t go so well for a variety of reasons. Here are a few simple but effective home inspection tips for realtors to help make the home inspection go smoothly and avoid unpleasant surprises.

Before the home inspection

  • Verify that all utilities are on (Gas, water, and electricity). If one or more are off, it significantly limits our ability to inspect the home. Either confirm with the listing agent or (if in doubt) check for yourself a few days before the inspection. Remember: Trust but verify.
  • Arrange your schedule so you can arrive at the agreed inspection time to unlock the residence. Sure, if you are just running a few minutes behind, we can start with the roof or exterior (provided they are accessible). But if we cannot get inside as planned, it negatively impacts our schedule for the rest of the day. Alternatively, set up a contractor lock box with a key inside and send the lock code to the home inspector before the appointed time.
  • Ensure the residence is empty. This means notifying the listing agent of the inspection date and time, so that they can notify the occupants. Owners or tenants and their pets should be gone. No other service providers that could interfere with the inspection (such as painters, cleaning crew, carpet installers, etc.) should be present. We need unrestricted access to the residence. Any distraction or obstacle interferes with our flow and focus.
  • Ensure all areas of the residence are accessible. If we cannot access appliances such as the water heater or HVAC system or entire areas such as the attic or garage, it significantly limits our ability to inspect the home. Ask the owners or listing agent to remove any items blocking access to crawlspaces, major appliances, or attic access hatches in time for the inspection.

When you arrive

  • Unlock all exterior doors and gates, including front/back/side doors, sliding glass doors, and gates. Both the home inspector and the client want to be able to access all areas of the residence.
  • Ensure that there is no padlock on the electrical panel. Some people feel the need to secure the main electrical panel with a padlock. Then, when they move, they take the key with them. This prevents us from inspecting the panel. Yes, we carry bolt cutters for this exact reason. But we first need to obtain permission from the listing agent which slows us down.
  • Manage the clients to ensure that they do not cause unreasonable constant distractions or interruptions for the home inspector. Most people respect our process and stay out of our way. Some clients keep distracting us with questions, which interferes with our flow and focus. If they have many questions, take a pen and paper, help them make a list, and save the questions for the end.
  • Manage the seller or listing agent. It is rare, but sometimes the seller or listing agent is present for the home inspection. If they are argumentative, try to rush us along, or otherwise interfere with the inspection, we need your help. Keep them entertained and distracted, so they leave us alone. If they are plain rude or unprofessional, remove them from the premises.

At the end of the home inspection

  • Help us lock up when we are finished (but not before). Lock all exterior doors including sliding glass doors, garage side doors, and gates.
  • Double-check everything is turned off or done including lights, ceiling fans, faucets, toilets,  oven.
  • Verify heating/cooling is set back to normal.
  • Ensure that everybody present has gathered their personal belongings and nothing is left behind.
  • If applicable, notify the listing agent, owner, or tenants that the inspection is finished.

Home inspection tips – common sense?

You might think, aren’t these home inspection tips all common sense? Trust us: If they were, and everybody was following these home inspection tips, then we would not have felt the need for this post. Unfortunately, every single home inspection tip listed here is based on real-world experience. Be a good agent and help everybody have a great inspection experience.