I live in Massachusetts. I start this entry with this statement because for those of you who are aware, Massachusetts takes one of the most restrictive stances on the “inspector-home pro” relationship. I’ll acknowledge that there is some growing awareness that this stance is neither practical nor helpful but at the present, this remains the anchor that the inspection community here generally lives by. Then, at the other end of the spectrum (without naming inspection firms or even states), I’ve spoken with numerous firms that either charge or are about to charge home pros to being part of “their list”.
For those of you who feel your blood pressure rising after reading that, let’s assess some of the issues and goals and then try and break down this spectrum of options on this topic and see where you really land.
- Do you consider yourself to have solid moral compass?
- Is your goal as a home inspector to be as helpful as you can to your client?
- Would you put a home pro on your list if you didn’t believe in their product/service?
- Do you think you are a better reference for a home pro than what is available on some websites?
If your answers were Yes, Yes, No, Yes then think about what that implies….
So as to have a meaningful discussion about this topic, I’m going to lay out, from top to bottom an increasing open mindset about the inspector-home pro relationship. Rarely is the world black and white. Things aren’t all good or all bad. Read the below and note where things start to get a bit uncomfortable.
|Closed||Don’t. Even. Think. About. It. Ever.|
|If a previous client who bought the home calls, you may offer a name|
|Providing a name if a client asks you about a specific type of home pro at the inspection.|
|Have a list of home pros that you put in the back of the inspection report|
|Charge firms a fixed amount to be on your list of home pros (2 per category)|
|Charge firms a fixed amount to be on your list of home pros (1 per category)|
|Open||Have home pros pay you based on the volume of work you send their way|
Have home pros pay you based on the volume of work you send their way
As a general practice, brokerages charge companies to be on their list. As someone who sold to them for a period of time and paid to be part of “their list” I have a good handle on about how much they make per year from lawyers, mortgage brokers, inspectors, painters, interior designers, landscapers and many more. Hint: It’s tens of thousands for many brokerages. I’m not suggesting that because they do it, inspectors should do it because I don’t equate the two but it would be remiss not to mention.
When surveyed, home buyers rank inspectors as the most trusted of all those involved in the home transaction. This is not only great(!), it is for a good reason. The inspector is coming in as an impartial party to the transaction and that impartiality (meaning you take a neutral stance on your findings) does not need to carry over beyond that. Once an (impartial) finding has been identified, then the VERY next question is, how much might it cost and who can do the work so the client can move forward (or not). This is where you as the inspector can be impartial AND be helpful by suggesting a couple of people you know that can be trusted to do good work. This helps the buyer greatly, especially those not from the area and would be grateful for a little help being pointed in the right direction.
My perspective is that if you are a conscientious inspector that cares about his or her clients and wants to be helpful and service them well, then develop relationships with home pros and share the good ones with clients. Frankly, most of you probably already have them by nature of what you do so this step isn’t hard, but here are some thoughts about it:
- Take the list seriously and interview/get to know them well (don’t just throw it together)
- Use an organization like BNI to develop the relationships (you’ll likely get some business yourself!)
- Seek feedback from people that used them to see if they were happy.
- Do periodic culling of your list (most important)
This becomes yet another service. The customer is paying you to do screening of this list and it actually takes work! If it is just pay for play on your list, then you’ve crossed a line and you don’t care about your clients. But to that end why would you?! There is NO incentive to offer up names of people that wouldn’t do great work at any price.