Realtor looking for advice

I’m new to forum. Been lurking for a while and am impressed with the level of professionalism displayed here. Thanks for letting me visit!

I’m a Realtor trying to cultivate new business and offer my customers a better home in the process. The goal is to use thermal imaging to understand more about the product we’re representing.

As a former auto mechanic and punch carpenter, I’m not without my abilities. I understand the concepts of full blown energy audit and if I thought I could go to these lengths to insure my clients were buying the best home they could for their money, I would. However, I understand this isn’t possible or affordable. You can only wear so many hats…

However, it would seem I could use this technology to at least see if a home is insulated fairly well (or at all) and find glaring moisture issues around shower stalls and that sort of thing.

As a real estate professional, I feel spending a couple of hours on every home we receive counter offers on would not only be beneficial for the home buyer but me as well. There’s no way I could do this on every home we offer on but if the seller comes back with a workable counter, lets do it. Contracts often stall at the inspection report and knowing all I can about a property with the experience I have could, in theory, save time in the long run by addressing repair issues early in the negotiation process.

As an auto mechanic, I get the need for quality tools. I understand that the more money I spend, the quicker and more accurate the inspection process will go. But I also know that cheap tools have their uses.

I know the I5 doesn’t have a great reputation as being a useful “professional” home inspection tool but how would it work for developing a generalized opinion about a home? I also haven’t seen opnions on the new I7 so how would it stack up?

How quickly do thermal imagers process information? Would the I5 and I7 work too slowly to scan an average 2000sq/ft ranch in 2 hours?

2500 is about my budget right now. I know that 4k or so will get me into a Bcam or Tir and I would love to have either, but 1500 bucks will buy a lot of advertising and we all know how slow things are…

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Ken

If I was a seller, I would only allow a licensed home inspector to inspect my home.

Where are you located?

Have you considered working with an existing thermographer in your area to see if what you propose has legs?

Making a purchase decision on an imager is often aided by taking IR classes to better understand the potential.

Just some thoughts…

Have you thought about liability concerns, and the possibility of being sued by a seller or builder for blowing a deal if you have no professional IR certifications, home inspector licenses, etc.?

In a sellers market, I could possibly see this happening with informed sellers but few are. However, it’s a buyers market at this point and if this were an issue with the seller, I would recommend moving on to another home. If my buyer likes the home enough to waive this, fine by me, saves me time and effort…at least I’ve carried enough about their next home to offer this service.

Hey Ken,

As a former agent myself, I’d like to offer you some advice related to your question.

As a real estate agent you have a defined task. That is to represent your client in the real estate transaction. You appear to be taking that fiduciary responsibility very seriously (BTW, I anticipate you will be very successful.)

That being said, you have a perceived (or even real) interest in the sale of that property. In other words, you don’t get paid unless the sale happens. That being the case you are placing yourself at risk to perform services as you are suggesting.

Here’s is what could happen… Your buyer has a good offer on the home, and you offer to do a thermal scan for them. You don’t find anything. Six months later, a huge moisture/mold problem rears its ugly head and you end up in court. A good lawyer is going to rip you apart for “intentionally” failing to find and report the issue. The reality that you did your best is irrelevant. The perception that you might have led your client to buy a bad house, is what is important.

What I would suggest is that you find several extremely thorough home inspectors, and thermal imaging contractors to recommend to your clients. Let your clients hire them, or hire their own. If you would like to be able to offer these to your clients as a “value added” service to set you apart, then offer to re-reimburse them for their inspection expenses at closing on the HUD. (Or save yourself the $ and negotiate for the sellers to reimburse them on the HUD.)

Make it very clear that you are strongly recommending various inspections, and have them sign a disclosure that you have done so. The disclosure should clearly state that you have given them a list of excellent inspectors that they can choose from OR they can locate and hire one of their choosing.

Focus on your job, and do it great (I believe you will.) Find others who are great at what they do, and utilize them for those things. Remember, you can’t be great at everything.

I am no longer a real estate agent myself because of the perceived conflict of interest involved in being a home inspector as well. I also don’t do every type of inspection myself, because I can’t be great at them. So I’ve got a pool guy, a chimney sweep, a mold expert, an asbestos expert, a fire suppression system expert, etc that I can call on. So I practice what I am preaching to you.

Best of luck to you. Stick out the slow time now, and with your attitude you will be a “heavy hitter” in no time. Word will spread.

Thanks for the input! As slow as things are, time is something I have plenty of. I also have a genuine desire to be the most qualified agent in our area and knowing the product and the technology is one of the best ways to do this.

Thanks again!

I suggest you taking the interNACHI Infrared Certification course (live webinar).
Our student have access to the lowest price IR cameras in the USA, plus you
get a free interNACHI membership (and in some cases, a free renewal).

We discuss various IR cameras also (it would be good to take the class before
you buy a camera). There are certain things that an IR camera can do and cannot do
under certain conditions.

It is very wise to understand the environments that can limit your cameras ability to
function and methods to verify what you are trying to diagnose. Many who take our
IR class come to realize were they are weak and were they are strong in construction
knowledge. Your free interNACHI membership will also give you tons of free education
and video courses, that will help to enhance your IR skills.

The savings you will experience on an IR camera, that can buy from our suppliers,
will help pay for our IR class (sometimes with tons of money left over).

See our Infrared Certified Training page here…

First and foremost I encourage you to take some quality training before you make a purchase decision. You will be receiving multiple opinions on one manufacture or make over another here. After training only YOU will know what suits your needs and fits you best for the application you want to apply it toward.
Thinking small and limiting your budget is well… thinking small and limiting your budget. Nothing else. Purchasing an inadequate cam before you have training may find yourself in more financial harm than anticipated. Depending on your location and actual intended application (heat loss, moisture intrusion, electrical, pipe location, pest inspection, other, etc) may find that your investment becomes essentially useless 4-7 months out of the year if you purchased an inadequate camera.
In my opinion there is no such thing as “good enough”. My key chain light is “good enough” to provide light in a dark environment, but I will not be able to provide an accurate analysis of a 50’x50’ crawl space by utilizing this “good enough” key chain light for the inspection.:wink:

Summing this up… get training first then come back and ask specific questions about the models you are interested in (along with software) based on your new understanding of your intended application. :slight_smile:

Otherwise, farm out your intended service to someone who has already invested in the training and adequate equipment. Work out a relationship and a profit margin and spend ALL of you budget on marketing the new venture for the benefit of BOTH companies. :wink:

Thank you for you input!!!

Wow! The response received is incredibly encouraging!!!

Training is on the list. However, I’m a hands on kinda guy and feel that, for me anyway, having the camera in hand will make my training experience more rewarding.

I’ve studied the forum and figure I will probably wind up with a Tir or B-cam. I’m 100% certain that either one of these will meet my requirements no questions asked. I have no brand preference as both machines seem well built and well received by all who own them. When the right deal comes across my path, I’ll pull the trigger on either one. BTW, do Fluke and Flir warranties transfer? I’ve heard not…

The only thing I don’t have a grasp on is what is just over the horizon with new camera models. Would it make sense to wait for a more affordable camera that has a broader operating range (up to 600 degrees) while also giving me excellent sensitivity( + or - .1 degrees)? It seems you can get one or the other in the under 5k range today, but what about in 6 months?

Again, let me thank everyone for their input!

Ken, I whole heartedly agree with what Mark and David have told you. Without the training there is too much liability. I recommend subbing this out to a competent thermographer and getting a quality analysis done. Good luck.

I see myself becoming certified at some point.

Thanks again!

I would also only have a Certified Home Inspector, look at your homes,
You can have a home inspection before the home goes up for sale, this will be better as you will know what should be addessed before its for sale. thus helping you and the home buyrer.

All information between agent and buyer are confidential. The seller won’t know or be able to substantiate any claims as to why a deal fell through unless we disclose this to them. If there are “perceived” major issues, the seller has every opportunity to state their case or let the buyer walk.

Again, a simple contract addendum could address this concern and be easy enough to sell to the listing agents.

I appreciate your time!

**I completely agree with the need to have pre-sell home inspections but unfortunately, I feel, right or wrong, that many inspection reports are worth little more than the paper they’re written on. In other words, just because they tell me so doesn’t mean I’m gonna believe it. Unless I know the inspector involved, I’ll be very cautious about accepting the results of a sellers inspection.

This is mostly fostered by the lack of contractual liability assumed by inspectors in NC. Disclaimers and liability clauses in the reports give lazy inspectors little reason to be very thorough.**

**As you can probably tell, I’ve seen many home buyers substantially harmed by lazy inspectors. **

Thanks Again!

There may be buyers that would think an infrared scan is replacing a detailed inspection. Infrared is another step in addition to the necessary regular inspection. You would be setting yourself up to mislead your clients into not reading the regular report carefully. If you want to prevent wasted time in the house hunting process, learn to recognize the big ticket items that are at the end of their lifespan, an old roof, old HVAC(s) and old water heaters are enough to kill many deals for buyers and for good reason they can total up to tens of thousands. As you know, there are many sellers that are selling because they can not afford to maintain the house and they know what is coming in the near future.

Unfortunately, every profession has lazy individuals. I have met my share of lazy or just plain incompetent Realtors as well. I have also met a few who have a propensity for lying or shading the truth just to make the sale. I can’t remember ever meeting a HI who would deliberately lie on a report as that would in the long run only come back to bite them in the rear end. Sounds like you do not have much use for Home Inspectors or at the very least have a low opinion of them. On the other hand I know some very good Realtors who have developed a network of other professionals they routinely turn to when the need arises. These are the ones who sell houses month after month, in good times and bad, regardless of the economic situation. These are also the ones who do not get flustered or show their behinds when a sale does not go through. In other words, they are professionals and act like it, live it and reap the rewards for it.

Hey please go back and put in your location…We like to talk to real people with nothing to hide. This helps us under stand more about you and what part of the country you are in.



Ken, the reason the lazy inspectors are out there still is because agents are sending them lots of work. The state will discipline them but only when they find out. They find inspectors all the time who have done thousands of inspections and zero done right.

On another subject, tell us about this option 2 thing that comes into play in July please. It sounds like agents will have to deal less with the report results and maybe not have to hold the sellers hand while trying to get repairs done. But it also sounds like the buyers will have to risk option money that is totally non refundable even if the house has major issues.

thanks for posting on here, wish more agents did that, most of us can discuss things without tossing rocks on here.