Build Your Business with Networking and
Home inspectors who increase their business potential do it by networking with organizations, professional associations or chambers of commerce. Other inspectors follow a personal interest or “passion,” develop professional partnerships, or discover new and profitable opportunities they did not know existed.
Meet four pros whose experiences could inspire you and build your business, Bob Peterson, Tony Smith, Shawn Price and Frank Lesh.
►Bob (Robert A.) Peterson’s Opportunities: Divorce This House™
“Before becoming a home inspector in 1993 I had worked in building and remodeling homes, which I enjoyed. Then my wife and I had twin girls followed by a son and I decided to pursue home inspection,” explains Bob Peterson, Peterson Home Inspection Services, Carmel, IN.
“After taking home inspection courses, joining ASHI and the Great Lakes Chapter of ASHI, I became very busy with my full time career.” Bob is an ASHI Certified Inspector, a Certified Housing Consultant, licensed in Termite and Radon inspection, and experienced in other inspection specialties. He has served as president of the Great Lakes Chapter and is in the second term on ASHI’s national Board of Directors.
Divorce This House™ Collaborative Continuing Education Council. Through his professional networking, Bob met Wendy Waselle, Co-founder, Divorce This House™, and Kelly Murray, JD, professor s in at the Vanderbilt University Law School and co-founder of Divorce This House™.” The program offers Collaborative Continuing Education courses and designations to attorneys, realtors, financial professionals and home inspectors. Divorce This House™ and its founders have been featured in numerous articles, and you can learn more at http://www..collaborative-continuing-education.com
“After a divorce, the assets are often divided, and one of the biggest of them is the house. The person staying in the house can order an appraisal of the home, which puts a dollar value on it, but that doesn’t reflect the condition of the home and its systems,” Bob explains. “Vanderbilt , Kelly Murray and Wendy Waselle recognized this need. After all, if a house is facing repairs, it is not an asset but a liability.” That’s why realtors, lawyers and judges must be aware of this beforehand, “because when a judge makes a final decision, it’s final.”
Vanderbilt contacted Bob last year about becoming involved, and, when asked, he will. “As home inspectors, we are professionals helping people at the low point of their lives address a critical issue.”
Inspecting homes going through divorce benefits home inspectors in other ways:
- Increased income
· Meet new people (judges, real estate agent and other professionals
· Reinforce professionalism
· Mutual business benefits
“ASHI has been the biggest success factor in my life, and that’s why I would like to see other ASHI members become involved.”
► Tony Smith’s Opportunities: Religious Institutions and Other Nonprofit Organizations
“Most home inspectors market their services to realtors, which is good, but they may not realize how profitable it can be to also work with religious institutions and other nonprofits,” says Tony Smith, ACI House and Home Inspection Services, Cedar Rapids, IA, and Speaker of the ASHI Council of Representatives (CoR).
Inspections for Nonprofits Lead to New Business
“Churches, synagogues and mosques need to be maintained, but given their budget challenges, they don’t know if they can afford a professional home inspection. That’s why their boards are grateful when you offer reduced fee services. They respond with referrals for additional business.”
“By offering 50 % or as much as 90% off your professional services, you are by no means losing money given referrals and future business opportunities. Hypothetically, if you would normally charge $700 for this type of inspection, you might only charge $200. The real benefit is not the tax deduction; it’s the new business opportunities among close-knit entities. And, of course, you should discuss this issue with your accountant or tax advisor.” When Tony completes one of this type of inspections he gives cost estimates for repairs which is outside the scope of the ASHI Standard of Practice. The entity is again grateful for the information as they prepare their budget without running around getting a number of estimates. Note: Do not exceed the ASHI Standard without first checking with your attorney, and be sure you are comfortable doing so.
Tony does ask the Pastor, Rabbi or Imam if he can briefly address their next Board or Trustee meeting for about 10 – 15 minutes. “I thank them for this opportunity, and ask that, if they know others in their community who are need of home inspection services, that they be given my name and number. That’s where the windfall of business begins.” Tony also takes these few minutes of the Board’s time to remind them that he remains their consultant at no extra fee for as long as they own the structure, and encourages them to call him even if they need a list of qualified contractors to work at their facility.
Tony explained the specifics of “Marketing to Nonprofits, Religious Institutions and other Close-Knit Entities” in an article he wrote for the November 2013 Reporter. It discusses how to identify, market to and work with religious institutions and other 501 (c) (3) entities,
Success by Association – New Mentorship Initiative
Success by Association, the new ASHI Mentorship Initiative, will formally launch during the Leadership Training Conference , which will be held in October. You will find more information in Tony’s article, Success by Association, in the April 2014 Reporter.
“Mentoring is invaluable and another learning experience and networking opportunity that I’ve been doing throughout my career,” Tony adds. “Your mentor/mentee doesn’t have to be in the same location you are. You can do it long distance, which I do.”
“Yes, I still contact my mentor for feedback, and I’m the Speaker of the Council.”
► Shawn Price’s Opportunity: Radon Testing
“Last year, in 2013, HUD enacted a policy that requires all FHA financing for multi-family housing to have a radon test by a qualified radon tester,” explains Shawn Price, president of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) and Program Manager of Air Chek, Inc., based in Mills River, NC.
“I believe that within five years, at the most, HUD will enact a similar policy for FHA-financed single family home sales. Currently, there are about 5 million single family transactions in the U.S. each year. FHA handles about 25 % of them, meaning that their impact could be approximately 1.2 million transactions each year with required radon testing. Once HUD takes that giant step, other mortgage brokers will likely follow their lead. Since it takes time to learn how to properly test for radon, “home inspectors should be ready for this profitable opportunity.”
Shawn has worked in the radon field for 25 years. During the first 9 years, he was affiliated with the EPA radon proficiency program as a quality control officer. “This was in the early 90s when home inspectors started doing radon testing.” EPA closed the program but privatized it. It is now administered by AARST, which works with the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP), which is responsible for certification. “After EPA closed their program, I moved to Western NC to join Air Chek, Inc., a radon laboratory.”
Radon Awareness Grows – Home Inspectors Respond
Shawn explains that prior to the 1980s,” we thought radon was only a concern underground that primarily affected coal miners. By the mid-1980s, we realized that radon also existed above ground (more in some geographical areas) and in homes. The public, as well as entrepreneurial home inspectors, began to understand the radon threat and respond to it. Actually, the government created an industry.”
Radon is the 7th leading cause of cancer death. However, for many home buyers and sellers, the question of a radon test usually comes up at the last minute, This is unfortunate because according to the US EPA and the National Academy of Sciences, it is estimated that 15,000 to 22,000 people die from radon exposure every year. Testing is the only way to reveal elevated radon levels.
“Radon can affect all homes, including new construction. When it does become a policy, government agencies and lending institutions anticipate liability issues. Thus, home inspectors should suggest a radon test.
Shawn, whose “passion is radon, encourages home inspectors to be ready for this opportunity.
“ASHI and AARST complement each other, and we can save people from lung cancer in this public health turnaround.”
► Frank Lesh’s Opportunities: First Time Home Buyers
“Educating first time home buyers is a rewarding experience for the buyer and for you, the home inspector. In fact, HUD encourages potential home buyers going through FHA to get a home inspection as well as the required appraisal. HUD also gives them our ASHI developed brochure, For Your Protection Get a Home Inspection,” explains Frank Lesh, Executive Director, ASHI.
“We can educate home buyers in several ways. Our ASHI website, for example, includes a “Virtual Home Inspection” video, and on my own site, I feature a video about ladder safety. You can also connect with local real estate agents, professional associations or first time home ownership centers and teach classes or present seminars on inspections. Community outreach leads to home inspections.”
Inspections for First Time Home Buyers
As you begin an inspection, try to achieve a comfort level that will engage and educate the first time buyer.
· Although you will perform a thorough inspection, start by asking the buyer: “What are your concerns?” Write them down, and then review them with your client after the inspection.
· First timers, often young adults, may be accompanied by an older person who has questions. Be patient, and find out what experience he or she has had with home buying. Try saying, “It’s great to have another set of eyes on an inspection. Would you like to help me?” If they do, give them an assignment, such as turning up the thermostat. In other words, include them in the process, and thank them at the end.
· Do not discuss finances or possible cost of repairs.
· Do not let them come up on the roof, or enter the crawl space or attic with you.
· Spend at least as much time with women, because they are most likely the decision-maker.
· Explain that a home inspector, no matter how professional and experienced, cannot see through walls, so repairs are inevitable. It’s when, not “if”.
“Then I explain that a house is a system of parts that have a life expectancy. So it’s only a matter of time before all the systems fail. I offer them feedback on the roof, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, appliances and basement. For example, if a furnace is getting old, budget to replace it at the end of summer to avoid winter problems.”
Budget for Repairs
Frank also suggests that buyers budget 1 % of the value of a house per year for repairs. If a house is worth $200,000, then try to set aside $2,000 per year for potential repairs, putting it in a separate account for that purpose and giving them resources for the inevitable..
“Home buyers appreciate that the home inspector is the only one in the purchasing process who’s representing their interests. If a problem occurs after the buyer moves in and a contractor says they need what seems like an overpriced or unnecessary repair that I disagree with I tell my client, “I have nothing to sell but the truth.” That’s it!