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Hello everyone, thank you for this fantastic forum, it’s a great resource for us aspiring home inspectors.  I have been lurking for a while, and am now saying hi as I get serious about becoming a licensed home inspector.   A little about me, my name is Paul Ferrari,  I live in Billerica  Ma, I have worked for the same company for 35 years,  we are a small  commercial real estate company,  our main focus for many years was the petroleum and convenience store industry.   Owning, managing, renovating, repairing and rebuilding properties.   Along with those, we acquired  other properties as well, small strip malls, office condos,  residential condos, and single family homes.    I have had many positions while here, from operations, marketing, environmental compliance, remediation, and construction, repair and renovation.

As the owner has gotten older, he has sold off many of the properties, to the point where we are just a small 3 person company with a few properties left.  A perfect amount to keep me busy, but with plenty of flexible time to do another job.   He will keep those and run like this until it doesn’t sense, which I don’t see happening for quite a while.  I’m looking to get into the Home inspection side of the business for an extra revenue stream now,  but more importantly one I could do the next 15 years or so if I find I enjoy it.

I’m the kind of guy now who reads the Journal of Light construction and Professional Remodeler for fun,  so I’m pretty sure this is right up my alley. I have spent a lot of time looking at as much info as I can on  the ASHI of New England site already.     I’d appreciate any thoughts, suggestions and words of wisdom you guys could share, wether you think a training course is worthwhile or not, finding someone to mentor with,  should I work on passing the test first?, stuff like that.

 

Thanks, happy holidays.

 

 

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I can't think of a better launchpad for a career in home inspection. But since your experience is limited to commercial, I offer a few words of what you might encounter as an HI.

This is a profession where you will frequently encounter agents. Agents have a professional duty to serve their buyers, but by law, they receive compensation only via a commission, and only if the house is sold. Inspections, by their very nature, don't help the agent sell the house and secure his commission. It's the opposite.  The better an inspector can serve a buyer, the more of a threat that inspector is to the agent's commission. That means agents are conflicted with knowing which inspectors can best serve the interests of the buyer, on account of the agent's personal interest in their commission.

Buyer's are seldom familiar with this conflict of interest, and there is no reliable metric on inspector performance that buyers can use to vet their inspector.  The result is that many buyers accept an agent's recommendation on choice of inspector. In my area, at least 90% seem to.  One effect of it is that our profession's practitioners tend to be the ones who produce the reports that agents like, the ones that aren't a threat to their commission. In this way, our entire profession is contorted and subverted.

As an entry level inspector, if you want to be successful you must make yourself more appealing to agents than your competition. You must do what your competition does, only better, even though the buyer gets screwed while paying for everything, the house, the agent and the inspector.

This effects of this conflicts aren't as bad everywhere in the country.  Some places, like mine, it's worse, other places it may not be significant.

Edited by Marc
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Thanks Marc, appreciate the info.    You would think it’s a conflict of interest if realtors are recommending inspectors, unless it’s a buyers agent.

I have also been fairly involved with residential properties,  mostly with repair and renovation....and I watch a lot of this old house...😂 j/k

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A few thoughts: 

  • It doesn't matter if it's a buyer's agent or a seller's agent. They both get paid only when the deal closes. No closing, no money to the agent. That said, there are plenty of agents out there who are genuinely looking out for the best interest of their clients. If these agents are smart, they quickly learn the red flags that might indicate serious problems with the house and steer the clients to houses that have fewer red flags. I regularly work with such agents; they can spot serious defects just about as fast as I can. 
  • The trick to working with agents is to understand that you're only going to get along with a few, and it'll all depend on how well your personalities mesh. Don't try to be everything to everyone. Just be your own unvarnished self, develop your own style, and let the agents who appreciate that come to you. Most of them won't, and that's fine. 
  • Most people fail in this business within 2 years. (By "most people" I mean about 16 out of 17, according to my research.) And most of the ones who fail do so because they don't have a clue about how to run a business and they're under capitalized. They often come from the trades and they tend to equate the inspection fee with their salary. Doing so is a huge mistake - especially when you're starting out. Your "salary" will probably end up being 40-50% of the fee that you collect - maybe less if you're only working part time.
  • Success in this business is about confidence. That won't happen unless you're confident in yourself. (Don't mistake confidence with arrogance.) Everyone that you interact with has to be confident in you as well. You build confidence by striving to be right every time. Everyone makes mistakes, but you should do everything in your power to avoid them because they erode people's confidence in you. 
  • Everything is either black or white. When something is black, say it's black. When something is white, say it's white. When something is gray, tell them to get someone to determine whether it's black or white. Alternatively, break down the gray thing into black parts and white parts so that the customer understands what he or she is getting into. Gray things never stay gray for long so you need to get out in front of them. 
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I agree with everything written above.  Not 100%, but mostly.  Commercial is a completely different process for me and my company.  There are many aspects of the inspection business including commercial, legal, residential, investment, reserve study(s), construction draws, and on and on.  Likely you could find your "specialty"  and succeed with your background.

I believe there is more profit in the pre-sale residential market.  You have to have the sales/numbers and therein lays the rub.  Simply look at the job as a business. 

I don't know the answers and would question those that seem to know everything. 

I like Jim k's statements about being black and white.  Don't be mealy mouthed. 


 

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Thanks everyone,  the beauty of my situation will be, that i will use the inspection business as a way to bring in more revenue to my bosses company,  we have always operated under the simple premise  "to increase revenue, we must reduce costs and or increase what comes in", Any way we can.

He is on board with me learning and doing a new task, like  inspections, whether it focuses on commercial or residential will work itself out,  while doing my present job and still getting paid if it can increase profit.  In realty i need no money from the inspection business to live, it just needs to bring in enough to cover increased insurance and marketing costs.    I am sure we will come to an arrangement that gives me a little of each inspection as a bonus once costs are covered.   The real payment to me is the ability to learn, fine tune a new skill and build a new revenue stream, that if I'm successful , i have in my pocket if he ever decides to get completely out of the game. 

If we keep running the way we do now  it gives me extra money and another good reason to get out of the office doing stuff i like.    I already know i like construction, renovation, building science problem solving all that good stuff, so why not put it to use.

 want to know how nerdy i get on this stuff, i just bought a FLIR C5 camera to examine the insulation and weatherization of a couple of our condo units at work, I'm even going through my house and went through all my neighbors houses, pointing out all there issues...I'm great fun at a party.😂    

I'm fascinated by the infrared technology,  and lucky that one of FLIR's headquarters is located right in my town Billerica, my brother in law works for them, so i got a nice discount and a crash course on thermography to boot.

 

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19 minutes ago, paul ferrari said:

What I really see happening, is my current job will end in a year or 2 or 3, So getting licensed, and experienced for a new job while getting paid at the old one is the true  goal I guess.  

not a bad idea, but one that is very rare in this business.  you have a good starting point and seem to have the right attitude!  Good Luck

 

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