Four Attributes For Success



By Jerry McCarthy

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, home inspectors, unlike most other types of inspectors, can and will be held legally responsible for their opinions because they’re being paid for them and folks purchasing homes heavily rely on them.  The job requires 4 basic skills; education, communication, writing, and awareness.  Lack any one of them and you’re in the wrong profession.  Jurisdictional inspectors can survive and thrive with only three of those attributes whereas a poultry inspector can get by with just one of them.

Education can be obtained with diligent reading of inspector trade journals, joining home inspector associations such as CREIA and ASHI where education of their membership is their prime product, taking local community college building code classes, attending really good inspector schools, association and manufacturer’s educational tool boxes, and perhaps most important of all, going on as many ride-a-longs as you can with successful home inspectors.

Communication skills can be developed by joining groups like International Toastmasters and attending speech classes at a local community college.  Practice, practice and practice some more.  Good speakers are not born; they develop by carefully watching and imitating good speakers at seminars and chapter meetings.  Good speakers are usually good salesmen and that’s what it takes in selling your expertise to both your clients and the agents who represent them because basically you are selling yourself as a consummate professional property inspector. Credibility is the name of the game and in most people’s minds their perception will become their reality and if you appear to be an expert at your craft you will be accepted as such unless you blow that perception by doing something stupid.  It almost always comes down to credibility.  Regardless of how code proficient or construction wise you may be the home inspection profession is a people business and credibility is everything.  It always gets down to; “do I trust the inspector to perform a really thorough inspection of the property I’m putting both my family and life savings into?”

Writing skills can also be developed and improved upon by taking appropriate community college classes and perusing all of the report writing vendors who claim their product is the best on the market, which unfortunately is generally untrue. Have your reports professionally reviewed at least every 3 to 4 years. Read your competitor’s inspection reports, in other words read every report you can get your hands on and you will invariably find phraseology, disclaimers and sentence structure that’s better than your own, then steal it!  During my career as a home inspector I admit I was a shameless thief when it came to “borrowing” other inspector’s verbiage that I thought was better than my own.  Always be aware that the written report is a work in progress from your very first inspection to your last.  There is no perfect inspection report anymore than there’s a perfect inspector or a perfect house

Awareness is the one ingredient that can not be taught and something you’re born with.  The other three attributes will only get you so far in the home inspection profession, but without the awareness of a ferret on a double espresso it’s virtually impossible to become a top-notch home inspector.  It’s the same type of skill that separates a good poker player from an average one.  Awareness is a skill early man developed in order to survive, but unfortunately modern society has bred that attribute out of him.  “Buyer Beware” is an old saying, a new one is “Inspector Beware” in that are you fully prepared for prime time?