Home Inspectors: Here Are Your New Year’s Resolutions

Home Inspector New Year's ResolutionsFirst, let’s get the “Happy New Year!” salutation out of the way. My team and I wish you the very best in 2017. I suggest you follow these New Year’s resolutions to get the most out of your business and make the best use of your time in 2017. 1. Raise your rates: This is something I learned in my first job at a Philadelphia “white shoe” law firm. On January 1, every lawyer’s hourly rates increased by $10 or $15. I still implement this practice to this day. Every business raises its rates for “inflation”, and you should too. 2. Stop chasing the market down: Stick to your guns. If you continually lower your rates to match the competition, you are supporting the notion that one inspector is as good as another. You know that isn’t true. Cheap Charlie is cheap for a reason. So instead of lowering your business to that level, provide value-add reasons why your product is worth more. Watch this video to discover other New Year’s resolutions you should implement in 2017. (more…)


Thermal Imaging’s Liability Factor

Tip 41 - Thermal Imaging's Liability FactorA California home inspector recently sent me an email inquiring about thermal imaging’s place in the industry, but more importantly, my legal perspective on whether the new “x-ray vision” opened up another dimension of legal liability for the inspector.

Thermal imaging has become more commonplace as another add-on in an inspector’s menu of services, increasing an inspector’s per-inspection revenue as the residential real estate marketplace finally starts to awaken from its nearly decade-long slumber.

This brings up an important skill I preach to home inspectors during my Law and Disorder Seminar. An inspector must align his or her client’s expectations with the reality of a limited, non-invasive, visual home inspection. To that end, thermal imaging can be an important tool in conducting an inspection and increasing revenue, but I also see where it could open an inspector up to increased liability exposure – yet, perhaps not in the area you may think.


The Cozy World of Litigation: “I Like to Give Business to People I Like”

Tip 40 - The Cozy World of LitigationA home inspector I’ve known for several years came up to me at an industry workshop with an issue: he had received a demand letter from a past client for failing to detect mold.

Shocking, the underlying facts of this claim were ridiculous. Leaving aside that mold detection is excluded from any extant standard of practice, and was not part of this inspection, the mold was only discovered after destructive probing.

The “I’ll fix this” home inspection industry cycle ensued. The inspector tried to (unsuccessfully) explain to the claimant’s attorney that the claim had no merit then subsequently turned it over to his insurance company, which appointed expert local counsel.

And that’s the worst of all possible worlds for the home inspector.

I explain the cozy world of litigation – a world that benefits the suits, not the home inspector – in this week’s video blog.



Why You Should Follow the Skeptic’s Creed on Seller’s Disclosures

Tip #39 - Skeptic's Creed on Seller's DisclosuresA Massachusetts home inspector recently asked me if he could rely on the information posted in the seller’s disclosures or responses provided by the seller or the seller’s representative to specific questions about the property.

The easy answer to that question is such: If seller’s disclosures were reliable, there would be no need for home inspections. And these seller’s disclosures are unreliable for various reasons, many which are completely unrelated to any skulduggery on the seller’s part.

Although, as I illustrate in this week’s video blog, sellers will oftentimes actively conceal material defects, and home inspectors need to realize that when locked doors prevent access to critical areas or furniture seems oddly out of place, what seems amiss is usually…amiss.

I provide an example on this topic and profess why you should follow the “Skeptic’s Creed” in this week’s video blog.



Claims on Concealed Issues: Why Didn’t You Take The House Apart?

Tip #38 - Concealed Home Inspection ClaimsA California home inspector recently contacted me about about a claim one of his prior clients was lodging against his former inspection company – the company that conducted the inspection in question.

This firm is exceedingly risk averse – so much so that it gas a standard practice of settling meritless claims at a moment’s notice. It’s a SOP (standard of practice) that I thoroughly discourage.

This claim in question dealt with an issue that was concealed at the time of the home inspection. “But why didn’t the home inspector dig up the kitchen flooring to find leakage in the sewer pipes?” (I asked this tongue firmly planted in check).

This week’s video blog looks at the prototypical concealed claim and why home inspection firms can’t make a practice of caving in to these complaints in the means of “customer service.”


The Cost of Your Lose-Lose Proposition

Tip 37 - The Costs of Defending Home Inspection Lawsuit (Part 2)The county sheriff arrives on your doorstep. Your heart sinks. A home inspection client of yours is demanding you pay for the bad results that occurred months after your original inspection.

Your goal is too be dismissed from this massive claim – which includes you, the seller, the seller’s agent, the buyer’s agent, so on and so on – but that is increasingly difficult when there has already been a substantial calorie burn on the defense attorney’s part.

And it’s nearly impossible to be dismissed once your home inspection insurance company appoints legal counsel because its financial incentive is to settle the claim for your deductible (or offer it as part of the settlement) and walk away.



The Typical Home Inspection Claim Runaround

Tip #42 - The Typical Home Inspection Runaround Claim RunaroundI’ve now been successfully defending home inspectors against meritless claims for a decade now, and with over 1,000 claims under my belt, I feel I’m qualified to describe the typical home inspection claim runaround competent home inspectors like yourself receive when dealing with an “issue” that really isn’t your “issue” at all.

I recently received a phone call from an inspector who was STILL dealing with an issue after two-plus years. The attorney representing him had, not surprisingly, been running up massive legal fees in the six figures without even the slightest desire to terminate the case. Why would he? His interests lied in his own billable hours driving fees as high as possible.


All About Arbitration – Who Should Pay?

Tip 44 - All About ArbitrationA Connecticut home inspector recently wrote to me about a “finding” he heard at a local law course, in which he has told that the American Arbitration Association (AAA) is now looking at DEFENDANTS for a substantial sum of money when a claim initiates.

This law course “professor” instructed the students to specify arbitration using an attorney qualified to arbitrate and with related experience.

He asked for my opinion – henceforth this week’s video tip!

I believe the AAA is feeling the financial pinch just like the rest of us and believes pushing the financial burden to the defendant is just what the doctor ordered to gin up a slew of new arbitration matters by removing the financial disincentive to the filing of ludicrous claims.

Home inspectors can head off this change by inserting key phrasing in their pre-inspection agreement. Watch the video tip below to find out the exact verbiage plus listen to why I believe the “professor” was wrong in saying that inspectors should demand an arbitrator have home inspection-related experience.

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