Supra Key necessary?

To all you Houstonians and fellow Texans out there. Is it necessary to join HAR and acquire a supra access key? Is it in widespread use or are most homes done by the simple lockbox method?

Most agents and buyers will expect you to have a Supra. Unfortunately, to get one you will have to pay an annual tribute to HAR. For that, they will reward you by selling your name to anyone who wants to mass market to agents and brokers, they will tell you how you should vote while they endlessly solicit you for PAC funds. Between the HAR dues and the Supra fees, it will run close to $500/year

Same in Minnesota. Cannot opt out of their mailing list.

Screw that! I see it as a convenience to agents for an inspector to have a supra key. Let me guess which PAC Houston supports. :roll:

You do your job, let the realtors do there job and open the house.

Do you know the Houston market?

Ah, a subject near and dear to my heart…

I really hate paying dues to the NAR, TAR and the local GTAR for the privilege of using the Supra. One time I called TAR because of some “free” faxing service (years ago) offered to members. I was told that I wasn’t a member because I was an affiliate and the offer didn’t apply. When I very sweetly asked what benefits I did receive from TAR for paying their annual dues, there was silence on her end.

So at the end of the day, it’s about my convenience. I have been there waiting on the Realtor to take her kid to school and show up late to open up the house or forget…

So yes, I admit it, it’s all about me.

And yet every year I still hesitate about sending in the dues and the fees. I’ve never actually checked how many times I’ve used the supra key and how many times the house was already open for some other reason.

Stop jerking my chain !! :wink:

Back in the day, you could get away with not paying dues to HAR after the first year and only pay the SUPRA fees themselves. However, they eventually caught on and shut down users who were not paying HAR dues, so we had to start ponying up again. It was good while it lasted.

Dues in San Antonio are only $240 with SABOR so Its not too bad to me. I have one and it makes my life much easier! I did one last night and it was simple!

16 Plus years in the residential inspection biz … 20 years of commercial inspectors prior to that. I’m not sure why anyone would waste any effort waiting on an agent to open a property for an inspection. Agents don’t care about you (the inspector). Unless you report fluff to let the agent close the deal and get their commission check … Do what is right and you will quickly learn the allegiance of agents. Then you are off their list.

Ergo … stay strong and independent and don’t rely on ANY agent anywhere.

Be honest and forthright and you will gain long-term clients.

Goes without saying I’m not a fan of hanging on with any Zoid.

“Do you know the Houston market?”


The market has gradually shifted from the agent opening the door to the inspector scheduling the job and opening the door. There are pro and con to be discussed but the fact is the current system will not change. I will spare the political details. My operating procedure is:

You are liable for the entire home when you open the lock. I manage this with:

1 - Have general liability insurance.
2 - Consider bonding (theft).
3 - 1 and 2 above are cheap ($500 ish)
4 - Know where the water shut off is and have a key to operate it. I use the meter.
5 - Carry a wrench big enough to turn off a gas meter.
6 - Video your entry and announce yourself loudly and often. Verify the home is clear room by room.
7 - I make it clear that only the buyer can attend. Their contractors, friends and family cannot attend unless the listing agent texts me a hold harmless on behalf of the seller. If I do not get a hold harmless then no one but the buyer gets in the home.
8 - I tape a big note on the front and back door explaining I am in the home with my phone number to call. I lock all the doors. If a listing agent visits to show the home I deny access without a hold harmless from the listing agent. I then make the visiting agent reopen the lock box to register them.
9 - If I see prescription drugs on open display I have a generic picture of pharmacy bottles that I text to the listing agent and tell them the home is improperly secured regarding medicines. I do not send an actual picture of the drugs but I do take one for my records.
10 - Ditto on 9 above regarding expensive jewelry or valuables.
11 - When I depart I video the entire home on my walkout. I verify locks, plumbing, garage freezers, pets etc. This practice has saved me 3 times in 10 years. Average time is 5 minutes.
12 - If I am accused of theft I respond by insisting the police be called and I revisit the home. I had a person who committed past fraud make a claim against me. I shut him down.
13 - If I have to move items off something like a range, I photo it; move it; then put it back exactly like it was.
14 - I wear shoe covers
15 - If I leave the home before the Realtor I lock the box and make the Realtor reopen it. I transfer care and custody.
16 - I put the names of the people who were at the home in the report.
17 - carry a shop vac for water leaks.
18 - I blow out any candles before departure.
19 - I zip tie gates to a pool yard. A tag says “Secured by Cahill; approved person may remove and assumes responsibility for pool access”.

Sounds like a lot to do but its easy to put into the procedure. When you inspect a 2 million dollar home and the buyer has 15 contractors and 6 friends visit you are really exposed on an occupied home.

From stories I hear I suspect there will be a seller contract happening. It will explain to the seller that you will be operating items and looking in about uncommon areas. If they do not like it then offer a visual only inspection or an escorted inspection.

Remember . . you open the door . . you own the home.

Every agent I know loves the way I manage the home and it has resulted in more referrals. I have never had an agent, seller or buyer complain.

Why don’t the organizations that home inspectors belong fight to get a special home inspector rate on a supra key?

John (Cahill), Good tips there. What about the termite guy/ gal. Do you let them in w/o agent or not? Thanks George S. TREC 2212

Good thoughts Mr. Cahill. I do most of these myself. I began taking video myself leaving the home 10 years ago and it’s paid off.

What do you do if your buyer cannot attend but instead send their relative?

I agree with Chuck. Just another cost to do business.

@Nick Gromicko?
Is this something that is has ever been discussed? Im currently looking into getting a Supra and wondered this same thing.

To obtain a discount would require the RE Associations to also provide some type of discount for RE Agents as well. RE Agents are paying the same basic key costs as we are. Obviously that would mean a great deal of money lost. The owners of Supra are certainly not going to open a direct line with the organizations since that means LOTS of lost money for the RE Associations who are obviously their main client. Supra also won’t do this for very obvious liability reasons. The cost for INACHI to offer Supra, if Supra would even agree, would cost more than what you are paying now.

The real discount that can be achieved is a significant reduction in the “Associate Member” fee that must be paid first to even be able to obtain the Supra key. The only reason I have an Associate Membership is to obtain the Supra Key. There are no other listed benefits we as Associate Members are given that I find of any value to use. One very possible discount is to not force Associate Members to pay the “TAR” dues portion which tends to be 1/2 the cost of the Association membership dues and includes a forced payment to the TAR PAC fund. I find absolutely no value in being a TAR Associated Member at all! It’s like joining “That Other” National HI Association locally and then having to also join the National HI part.

In short most certainly don’t hold your breath waiting for any of this to change!

Nice post.

Sorry for the delay. I forgot to check the forum reminder.

I do not have a problem managing one or two people. I notify the listing agent on order confirmation and explain who might visit and that they are granting expressed permission on behalf of the seller if they do not reply. if they don’t reply I text them the same. Probably not super complaint proof but better than nothing.

In closing when you go into a home you own it.