COVID-19 and Home Inspections

Originally published in The Minneapolis Star Tribune

by Reuben Saltzman

Things are crazy and unprecedented in the home inspection world. Last week brought some major changes to our everyday lives, and I expect to see more changes this week. To answer the #1 question that our client care coordinators are being asked, the answer is YES. We're still open for business, we're still inspecting houses.

The new standard of care for home inspection attendance

I recorded a video 10 days ago and released it with last week's blog post, where I mentioned that we'd prefer for our clients to not attend the home inspection. I didn't want to prohibit our clients from attending the inspection, but that has changed in the last week.

I've been in close contact with several other large home inspection companies* throughout the country as well as here in Minnesota, and we're all in agreement; the new COVID-19 standard of care is to have the home inspector perform the home inspection alone. We'll call our client immediately after the inspection to discuss our findings, and we'll conduct another review with our clients after we've sent out our report.

We implemented this new policy on Saturday evening, and all of our clients and their agents have been very understanding of the situation. It warms my heart to know that people are so willing to adapt.

*These companies include Super Inspector in Dallas, Residential Inspector of America in Atlanta, The Real Estate Inspection Company in San Diego, ProTec Inspection Services in Washington D.C., Bryan & Bryan Inspectionsin Houston, InspectaHomes here in the Twin Cities, and Heartland Home Inspections, also located here in the Twin Cities.

Safety precautions

While on-site, home inspectors throughout Minnesota should be following these steps to help maintain a sanitary environment in people's homes:

  • Wash hands multiple times during every inspection, especially after touching things like faucets and door handles.
  • Bring hand towels or paper towels for drying our hands. 
  • If available, keep hand sanitizer nearby and use it when needed.
  • If available, use disinfectant wipes or the equivalent on faucets and door handles.
  • If any inspectors have a fever or cough, do not conduct the inspection.
These steps apply to all home inspectors, chimney inspectors, radon technicians, and sewer inspectors.

With schools closed and kids potentially being left home alone, it's also important to note that no home inspector should enter a home without a second adult present. The home should be empty at the time of the home inspection.

Here at Structure Tech, we will continue to monitor things on a daily basis, and we'll adjust any of these policies as needed or recommended to help ensure everyone's safety.

People still need home inspections

At the time of this blog post, the market in the Twin Cities is still hot. Or at least warm. To get a good idea of how COVID-19 has affected home sales, check out ShowingTime's chart that shows daily showing activity.

Minnesota Showings

The chart above just shows Minnesota, but if you click on the link or the image, you'll see that the numbers started to plummet throughout the nation on March 11th. They didn't take nearly as big of a plunge here in Minnesota. In fact, showings were up over last year until March 19th.

Not only that, but pending sales in the Twin Cities were up last week, and so were new listings. The chart below is courtesy of Sharlene Hensrud at HomesMSP.com

In short, people are still buying houses here in Minnesota. As long as that's happening, home inspectors are needed. 

If Minnesota sees an executive shelter-in-place order, things will probably change for us. Some parts of the country have decided that real estate sales are not essential. Other parts of the country, such as our neighbors in Chicago, have deemed real estate services an "Essential Business and Operation". There's a lot of uncertainty with all of this right now, but we'll be ready to pivot if and when that happens.

Date : 3/26/2020

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