Getting started in the home inspection business will always be slow and gradual, especially with today’s Real Estate mess throughout the U.S. Many newcomers to this profession get very frustrated during the first year and some finally throw in the towel and return to construction work or to their previous occupation. Selling your HI services to R/E agents before you have actual field experience is not easy, but it has been performed by nearly everyone who is an experienced home inspector today.
Instead of worrying about your lack of inspection experience, your better off telling people about your related knowledge and experience – such as contracting or whatever it was you did previously that relates to Home Inspections. Tell them about your certifications and any other professional credentials that might apply to Home Inspections. Tell them about your commitment to do excellent work. But don’t say you are a “continual learner” because that infers that you have not yet sufficiently learned about Home Inspections. And don’t ever tell them that you’re an “overachiever” because many agents are afraid of home inspectors who might “kill the deal” by being overly zealous. But when someone asks you how many inspections you’ve performed, just tell them the truth and let the chips fall as they will. Most people, however, won’t even ask if you act professional enough to make them think you’re GOOD.
R/E Agents are used to newby inspectors coming into this field all the time. At first, you may be dismissed as just another home inspector. But gradually, if you’re GOOD, you’ll get inspection orders – a few here, a few there. And if the R/E agents really like your work, they’ll call on you and refer you again, and again. And little by little, you’ll become an experienced Home Inspector.
But while you’re gaining that valuable experience, you’ll be missing property defects that would be discovered by a more experienced Home Inspector. These undisclosed conditions will result in callbacks, monetary claims and possibly a major lawsuit. So be sure to carry Errors-and-Omissions insurance, and do all you can to continually advance your HI education. The more you know and the more you practice, the more effectively you’ll serve your customers, the more protected you’ll be from liability, and the more often you’ll be recommended to home Buyers on a continuing basis.
If you make the wise decision of attending a professional home inspection school, you will see many ads that say you can make hundreds of dollars a day as a Home Inspector. The home inspection schools always print many of these ridiculous ads and what they claim is simply not true. They paint a bright rosy picture about the HI profession and how easy it will be for you to make a ton of money virtually overnight. Bullshi+… If you believe that story, I’ll tell you another, if your gullible enough to listen.
What these HI schools and the various companies’ (selling Home Inspection courses) won’t tell you is how difficult it is to be successful in this business, especially with today’s real slow R/E market. Some National HI schools make it sound so easy to get started overnight. They simply explain how easy it would be to start doing one or two home inspections a day with little or no effort. Don’t allow then to fool ya. The HI business is like any other professional business. It takes dedication, strong finances and a lot of time to become very successful.
Many HI schools do not tell you about the massive liability side of the home inspection industry. The home inspection industry is and always will be a very high liability profession. Every single home you inspect, is a potential lawsuit for you. It doesn’t matter that you may be the most thorough home inspector in your area. Home Inspectors are sued over things that the homeowners thought they should have found whether or not you could actually see the defect or not. There’s an old saying in this business. It’s not IF you get sued, but WHEN you get sued. So if you can’t live under this sort of pressure, you’d be best off looking elsewhere for a different profession.
All it takes is a ladder, a flashlight and pickup truck…right?
Well, guess what? Here’s more bad news, and I apologize but it’s the absolute truth. Like most legitimate businesses, it takes a little more than a few simple tools. A new home inspector is going to need about $5000 worth of tools just to get started in this business. Then there is the issue of insurance. Errors & Omissions Insurance will cost a new inspector (if you can even get it) anywhere from $3,000 to $4500 per year. Then there’s General Liability Insurance that will run you anywhere from $500 to $1500 per year. In some states, you can’t even get started without this insurance.
Do you have a rainy day fund?
I hope so, because it will absolutely rain on your parade! Just like any new business, the 1st year or two will be very rough. It may take you anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to even get to the point where you’re bringing in a hefty steady income. Many Home Inspectors came into this business by doing home inspections on the side or on a part time basis. That is the exact approach I would advise any new inspector to take. Don’t quit your day job just yet!
What about the Real Estate Agents?
The schools make it sound like there’s a R/E agent behind every tree just waiting for good ole’ you. Odds are that R/E agents have their favorite Home Inspector already and they’re not likely to use a newbie Home Inspector because they do not know what to expect from you as of yet. It will take you many months up to a year or more before you’ll be getting regular referrals from your favorite real estate agents. Don’t count on them to feed your family when you first start your HI business. This industry can be very rewarding in many ways, however it’s likely to leave a sour taste in your mouth if you enter thinking that it’s a pushover to get started in this industry. I’ve seen way to many good people go broke trying to get started in the HI business because home inspection schools and trainers left them unprepared for what they were about to face in the real world.
I really wish you all the Luck in your career decision and whatever your goals may be. After hearing me tell you the real truth about this industry and you are still truely thinking of dedicating yourself to become an HI, the first thing you should do is join iNACHI](http://www.nachi.org/membership.htm) and then participate in this MB on a daily basis. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn in a single day.