Red Flags of Bad Clients

I am recently certified and want to know if any seasoned inspectors can offer any insight to the signs of a Bad client, or “Red Flags” they might show whereas you would want to “ Walk Away” from the inspection?

They don’t sign the agreement, and get it back to you via email, etc., before the inspection like you instructed them to.

They want to argue/change/delete points on your agreement.

They want you to get payment at their closing.


Thank You …Mr Kage; These are points not mentioned when I searched “Bad Clients” from a thread in 2017

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I am also very interested if any inspectors have felt like a Client was trying to “distract” them and how do you kindly and professionally handle that type of situation?

One thing I know about myself I can be easily distracted so I’m trying to make sure that I put in place process or system that can help me stay focused

Anyone that starts asking “why so much” or that their other inspector did it for 1/2 the price when you quote them your inspection fee.


In 3,000+ inspections, I have never had a client that I considered a red flag. Some inspectors consider the questions that buyers are recommended to ask when deciding on their inspector as red flags. Are you insured? = red flag. Can you provide references? = red flag. What do or what do you not inspect? = red flag. When do I have to pay? = red flag.

There are occasionally the overprotective I’m smarter than you parents, relatives, or buddy that show up and want to show everyone that they are smarter than you. When this happens, I simply ask the buyer if they would rather have them inspect the house instead of me. I offer to mutually agree to end the inspection and refund their fee. In 15 years, I have never had anyone decide that they did not want me to do the inspection. It also sets the tone that you are in control of the inspection process.


Like Jeff above, in over 25+ years, I also can’t remember having a Client that was an actual Red Flag. IMO, the types of question MOST clients ask are from (for lack of a better word) ignorance and ask questions the internet tells them they should be asking. The average person doesn’t really give a crap about that stuff (except for how much they need to pay you). With that being said, my all time favorite clients are Attorneys! Damned near every inspector on this and other forums panic when they get a hint of a Lawyer.
My advise… TALK with your potential client. It is critical from their very first call that YOU begin to make a connection with them and build a relationship of trust. They must trust that you are competent and care about their needs, and you must have the information necessary to perform your inspection as a professional. In effect… you are both interviewing each other.
By talking WITH my clients, I have discovered one common trait… those that don’t engage in conversation for more than a few minutes, are likely the clients that either don’t wind up hiring me, or just simply make it difficult to make contact with throughout the process. In comparison, my typical client will ‘chat’ with me for 15 to 30 minutes about the home, their needs for the home, their family and their needs (new born/children/pets/elderly/special needs/etc). Through this conversation, I learn about what they expect from the inspection, and they learn about me as a person, not just an inspector attempting to get them to give me their money.
Speaking about money… even though it is usually the first question (other than if we are available), the ‘how much’ question is always the last answer I give a reply to. In fact, after a good conversation with the client, many times we have both forgotten about the money and just booked the inspection. I usually always remember right away after hanging up, and call them right back. It’s funny how many times they have also forgotten about the money, as it wasn’t really their concern. These people make the best clients!


Me too. When I first started 15+ yrs ago I had them attend the whole inspection because I thought that’s how it was/that you had to. I was miserable trying to “entertain” & trying to ensure everything was accurately and completely documented in the report. Remember, the only thing that matters in the end is what’s documented in your report.
Have them come at the end for a review which highlights the main systems and components (roof, electrical, foundation, etc.) Been doing it this way for 15 yrs. and it’s the best way. by far for me.


For Red Flags - Do not judge a book by the cover. I have surely had clients I did not like the time spent together, but you have to treat them all with respect. As long as they have paid and handled what you have laid out with the agreement, then any client that pays, is a good client.
There are scammers out there offering an inspection request and it will be obvious to you when the scam is wanting you to take a check and deposit money into an account or some BS. For these - just walk away.
My personal response if someone wants a discount is to ask them what part of the house they will agree to skip in a light hearted manner. It takes them back a bit, and may push them away, but it squashes that part of the conversation quickly. I deal with a lot of tech folks from other countries and bargaining is an expected part of the culture. If you are priced right for what you offer and for what your market will allow for you to stay busy, then this should part should be an easy explanation to them as to why you will not discount your pricing. Your confidence in this will grow over time and with more jobs under the belt.
For getting side tracked - It is critical to develop a “flow” for everything. You have limited time to look at 300+ things and consider their condition. If you are distracted, let them know you will walk them through things in stages or at the end, but let them know you have to stay on task to do a good job for them.
I personally only take pictures on sight and do the report at home. The mobile apps are great, but I do not like the impression of an inspector on their phone and skipping around through software when they should be focused on the home 100% (just my personal stance). Many on the forum like the mobile app for their software and I guess it keeps you within a task list to complete. Try out both methods until you are effectively and efficiently good with either manner.
Continue to work with your template until you know it like a boss. And then, keep updating it as you will use this over and over. If it is not effective and how you like it…The report side will break you with 8 hour reports. Make sure it covers any SOP that you follow (Internachi and/or state if applicable), and make sure it is logical from a customer perspective! You will always be making baby steps to make it better, but really spend the time initially as this is the report that is the final document…When it comes down to it, this is what matters!
Sorry for the long answer, but this will make you so much better in the long run.