Background Check? Check!

THIL_AtTheDoor

If you’re still living in your home when you list it for sale, it can feel a bit like your privacy is diminished. There’s a good reason for that. It is! You’re essentially inviting the public into your home, although ideally, it should be small bits of the public at a time and they should either  be accompanied by a Realtor or be a licensed real estate professional. From initial showings to the open house, from the home inspection and the termite inspection to the appraisal, once that key box is installed, your home will not be as private as it once was.

Many people have concerns not just about the number of people who have access to their home, but about the character of those people as well. And you know what? I don’t blame them! The people involved in the selling process are strangers to the seller, and in this day and age, no one can afford to be naive, especially if children are still in the home.

The good news for sellers in the State of Texas is that the Texas Real Estate Commission has some safeguards in place to help ensure that the people entrusted with access to your home are trustworthy. No system is perfect of course, and common sense should always be used. Following are some common hurdles that Texas Realtors and Inspectors are required to clear before they are allowed to work in these industries.

THIL_BackgroundCheckTo become a TREC licensed Realtor in Texas, education hours are just the beginning. In addition to the 180 classroom hours, the applicants must meet the guidelines for honesty, trustworthiness and integrity. Also required are a background check and submission of fingerprints. The applicants must also pass the State agency’s test and have a licensed Realtor sponsor them.

It’s much the same for TREC licensed Home Inspectors. The requirements that pertain to character, background check and fingerprints are all also required, even for an Apprentice Inspector. There are differing levels of licensing for Home Inspectors in Texas, however, unlike the Texas Realtor, the Home Inspector must carry errors and omissions insurance, the process for which also scrutinizes the Home Inspector’s past performance and/or any pending or past lawsuits pertaining to their work.

If you live in a state that does not oversee home inspector licenses, you may still have some options. The major home inspection professional associations have some strict ethics requirements for their members. Try to find out if the Inspector you’ll be dealing with is a member of any professional home inspection associations. You can usually find this information on the Inspector’s website. Then you can call that association to ask about the standing of that Inspector.THIL_SafetyFirst

These protections do not guarantee that you will only come into contact with respectable people, however, they do help to weed out folks that have been less than upstanding in their past business dealings.
Any time someone is asking to have access to your home, never hesitate to insist on identification, particularly if you were not told in advance of their arrival. Rob and I would never insist on entering a home if the home owner or person representing them were in the least bit uncomfortable with our presence. You have every right to be notified in advance, not just of  showings, inspections and appraisals, but to insist on knowing all parties names and license numbers as well, so you can call the licensing agencies and ensure that the person holds a valid license and is in good standing.

THIL_StopOne more thing to keep in mind: Any Home Inspector will likely refuse to perform an inspection on a property with unattended minors in the home. If there will be anyone in attendance, there should be someone at least 18 years of age present for the inspection to proceed. Many Home Inspectors will ask for the property to be vacated by all parties to restrict distractions, and while this is completely understandable, I personally never ask a seller to leave their home if they want to stay.

The takeaway here is this: If you’ve listed your home for sale, make peace with the temporary loss of some of your privacy, but don’t feel that you need to admit anyone who knocks on your door, particularly if you are not certain of their identity or background. Any Home Inspector that is a real professional will understand a sellers need to take a few minutes to ensure their safety and the safety of their families. If they balk at your request to have a moment check them out, reschedule!

Thanks again for stopping by! Please remember to Pin, Like and share on your favorite social media and please feel free to email me any home inspection related questions, whether the questions are technical or procedural. You can send emails using the contact form below or at thehomeinspectorlady@yahoo.com . Have a great day and I wish you a safe and happy home!

 

Just the Facts: When Inspector Opinions Don’t Matter

THIL_FactsI have a recurring nightmare. Well, I have more than one, but just one about work. I have a home buyer asking me any or all of the following questions:

  • Am I paying too much for this house?
  • Would you buy this house?
  • Is this home’s value likely to increase or decrease?
  • Is this a decent neighborhood?

There are more, but you get the picture. Sometimes I wake up screaming. Think I’m over reacting? Read on.

Just like sea shells and finger prints, no two Home Inspectors are alike. Some may have a higher level of education in structure, while others have more experience with electrical systems. Some may be able to do appraisals, while some others have training in mold or asbestos testing. Right now you may be asking yourself, “What’s your point, Inspector Lady?”

My point is this, before you ask your Home Inspector about listing prices or the prospective return on your investment, you should first be asking if they have any specialized licenses or certifications. Asking someone who isn’t qualified to do real estate appraisals whether or not you’re paying a fair price is kind of like asking your mechanic to look at a suspicious mole.

THIL_ConfusedWhile it may seem puzzling, there are differing levels of education and certifications for Home Inspectors, even Home Inspectors working in the same state. Here’s how it goes: Even if (and yes, I do mean IF) a state governs the licenses of Home Inspectors, they likely will have a minimum number of requirements to qualify for this license, but these professionals can, and often do, choose to exceed that minimum. Depending on the area of focus, this gives Home Inspectors a wide range of services they can offer and you should definitely inquire about any specialized knowledge that is important to you.

THIL_RelievedBut even if you don’t feel the need for any specialized services for your particular transaction, this is something to keep in mind when talking with your Inspector. I and most Inspectors I know absolutely refuse to answer questions like, “Would you buy this house?” It’s not my job to make judgement calls like that. It’s my job to help give you as much information as I can about the condition of your prospective home at that time, so that you can then combine that knowledge with all the other variables and make that decision for yourself.

Believe me, there are few things that Realtors hate more than offhand comments about something outside an Inspector’s wheel house that can unduly influence a buyer and tank a deal. So before your inspection, get some background on your Inspector so you know the areas in which they are qualified to speak. Knowing whether or not the Inspector has the expertise to offer that opinion or advice can help you determine how much weight the comment should carry.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask your Inspector or Realtor for referrals for people properly qualified to give you the information you require.

Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to use the box at the top to sign up to follow this blog and please remember to Pin, Like, Tweet and/or comment below and please email any home inspection questions or experiences you’d like to share to thehomeinspectorlady@yahoo.com. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Open House… Literally

Home Inspection

The strangest thing that has ever happened to me during a home inspection was actually the result of an open house the previous day. It resulted in teaching me a great lesson in personal safety, but it also taught the Realtors involved something that I don’t think most real estate professionals would have thought about otherwise. Maybe I’m wrong (and if I am, please comment.)

So, I get a text on a Saturday from a Realtor who has a buyer in a tight spot. He was in town with his daughter to buy a house for her to live in while she went to nursing school. Unfortunately, back home, his wife had taken ill and was in intensive care at the hospital. He needed a home inspection before he left the following afternoon.

We agreed to do the inspection for him the following morning on Sunday. Knowing the house was vacant and we wouldn’t be disturbing the owner, we made the arrangements. It seemed simple enough. Right?

When we arrived at the house, everything seemed to be the definition of normal. Then we realized, we had left our ladder at home. You kinda need that for a home inspection. So, we introduced ourselves to the buyers, got the key out of the lock box and opened the door. Rob explained to the buyer about the ladder and leaves to retrieve it while I stay there to get started.

Upon entering the master bedroom/bathroom combo, I admire the barn doors separating the bedroom from the bath. When I slid the doors open, however, I noticed a smell. A bad smell. I immediately wondered if the plumbing had backed up. A quick check of the fixtures dismissed that thought. Then I thought, “dead mouse”? Yikes! I hoped not. If only it had been that simple.

I turned on the light to the walk in closet and opened the door. On the floor were two denim covered legs sticking out from under a blanket. Two legs, the bad smell and no movement at all from the person on the ground. I closed the door. Quietly. I then had the privilege of explaining to the buyers that there was a person in the closet. I can still see the looks on their faces. It was as if I had told them I had found Narnia in there. Blank stares. I assured them I was not joking.

The father went in to investigate while I suggested to the daughter that we wait outside. Then the shouting started. “WHO ARE YOU? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? WHY ARE YOU HERE?” Turned out, the shouting was coming from the father. He had awakened the sleeping young woman on the floor and, in hindsight I realized, was probably trying to use the puffer fish defense method to get her out of the house. It worked. She came running out of the house saying she had gotten lost. Probably true in a metaphorical sense. She turned out to be a meth addict. But that’s only part of the explanation.

The listing agent had an open house at this property the day before the inspection. The young lady from the closet had come to the open house, left the master bathroom window unlocked and returned later with some friends. They broke into the house, stole a number of items that the stager had used to decorate and she, no doubt thinking,”Who’s going to be here on a Sunday?” decided to crash there for the night.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: Just because a house is supposed to be empty, that doesn’t mean you are alone. Since that day, my husband and I check every house (he chceks the closets) as soon as we arrive. And we do it together, believe me! When I opened that closet door I truly believed I had found a dead body.

The Realtors involved learned something, as well. Any Realtor who is securing a home after an open house thinks to check to make sure the doors are locked. Who thinks to check the windows?! A few more after that experience, I can promise you. Stay safe out there, Readers! And please comment with your thoughts or experiences!