Special thanks to Franco Perez of Franco Mobile Homes in California for his contributions to this article on this topic.
Mobile home agents are ready to sell and the way a home inspector works with the agent can make or break the relationship. When your inspection service delivers what an agent needs, you can look forward to a long-lasting and lucrative addition to your business.
Inspecting a mobile home requires unique knowledge. In the February issue of the ASHI Reporter, we introduced how mobile home inspections differ from inspections of single-family dwellings. Combine this with the best strategies for scheduling inspections, delivering reports and ease of payment, and you have the opportunity to be an expert and provide top-notch service.
If you understand the mobile home agent’s priorities, you’ll have the key to ongoing business. Agents look for professionalism, consistency, online access and clear communication.
Agents are busy and you want their business. Why make it hard for an agent to do business with you? Convenience is the key to starting a great relationship with an agent. Franco Perez, a mobile home agent, with Franco Mobile Homes in San Jose, California, said, “Coming from a dealer, business owner or agent standpoint, convenience is a huge thing for us. Agents want to sell, sell, sell and keep everything as smooth as possible, so convenience is key.”
Your website may make it easy for an agent to find you. After that, keep the momentum going. Clearly state the best way to get in touch—phone call, email, calendar schedule, text. Once you’ve stated your preference, be responsive. Answer the phone call, reply to the text or email message.
Organized communication makes it easy for the agent to work you into their system. If you use calendar scheduling, make sure you have fields for pertinent information so you can show up at the right place at the right time. Save the agent’s time by giving them clear instructions when placing an order.
Agents need efficiency to help their clients. The sooner they can schedule an inspection, the more their client feels served. If you are truly booked out and can’t provide an inspection in a timely manner, show your professionalism by referring the agent to a peer. The agent will remember your professional help.
Make sure to deliver your inspection report in a timely manner.
Playing hard to get won’t help your business. In these days of pandemic caution, stay current by creating online avenues for agent communication.
When an agent can perform everything in one place, you’ve made their life easier. When they can communicate, schedule, gain report access and pay digitally from your online hub, you make it easy for them to do business with you. You’ll make a difference by simplifying the steps to conduct business with your inspection service.
- Post clear pricing guidelines.
- Enable inspection scheduling. Gather the information you need to arrive on time.
- Enable report downloads from your website. Digital access for the client and the agent in one place facilitates communication.
- Create an online payment gateway. No more waiting for an agent to drive to the site to deliver a check, and you eliminate the time taken out of the day to drive and meet.
Perez said, “I think it’s important to have an organization that has a similar experience every time—an online experience where we can just book an appointment, we can expect to have an appointment within a few days, and we can expect great service and similar results every time.”
One online central access point makes it simple for agents and their clients to get to know you, understand your inspection business and do business with you.
Understand Mobile Home Requirements
Mobile home agents have a mission to supply affordable housing. They want you on the same mission. When you understand the unique specifications for mobile homes, you add value for their clients. Educate the agent and their client so they, too, understand the special parameters for mobile home inspections.
Many agents don’t have a lot of experience with selling mobile homes. The more you are able to help educate those agents, the more your business will add value for those agents in the eyes of their clients.
Perez added, “What’s really important to us in the mobile home industry is someone that really understands mobile home laws…so they are aware who with old mobile homes, [some] things are grandfathered in, like windows built in the ’70s. Being current with mobile homes, and knowing the difference between mobile homes and single family homes is…key.”
Taking an educational approach to helping agents and their clients understand mobile homes will build repeat business.
Health and Safety Reporting
Mobile homes are tightly regulated under the U.S. Government Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines. These guidelines originated in the State of California’s Title 25 standards. For example, in California, every mobile home must be certified as having no health or safety defects.
An inspection is a necessary component of a manufactured home sale to determine the safe condition of the home. That requirement makes your inspection key to verifying the safety of the mobile home. Your inspection report is a legal document verifying the condition of the home at the time of the inspection.
With safety in mind, organize your report so the agent and the client can quickly understand the condition of the mobile home. Include and highlight a summary of major findings and break down their importance from a safety standpoint.
Your clear communication makes it easier for the agent to explain the findings, and makes it easy to identify what is a priority and what is not. You’ll help the agent explain priorities to the client to negotiate the best agreement.
Visuals help pinpoint findings that need remediation or repair. Use clear photos and, when possible, add visual indicators like arrows or circles. Visuals add value to your report, making your inspection business an educational resource for the agent. That value translates into dollars for your business. Perez said, “I would pay more for a company that understands our business, and knows that we’re busy and helps with steps that will allow us to be more efficient.”
The agent’s job is to make sure that their clients are protected and taken care of in the best way possible. The agent deals with hundreds of components when it comes to a transaction and your inspection is one of these components. It’s important to have a very detailed report that is organized in a way that can be easily understood.
Perez shared that, for a health and safety inspection of a mobile home, how the report is organized, with a summary and an easy-to-follow format so you can easily identify the most important information, is critical. “If we only have 20 minutes to review the inspection, then we want to know what are the most important things that we have to talk about.”
The Inspector’s Role in the Manufactured Home Sale Process
Perez said, “The more value-add you can bring to a real estate agent, the more the agent will be likely to work with you.”
Your inspection expertise secures your place in the manufactured home sales process. Your report on the safety and soundness of the structure supports the sales transaction. The agent and the client need your inspection.
At the same time, clear communication builds trust. Trust and reliability foster repeat business.
Create a sound, ongoing relationship by giving real estate professionals in the mobile home market what they need:
- Up-to-date knowledge of unique mobile home requirements
- Familiarity with local and regional grand fathered mobile home systems
- Ease of doing business with online access to scheduling, payment and reporting
- Organized reports, with a summary of findings and illustrative photo images
While your role in the sales process is crucial, so is your professionalism. To succeed in the lucrative mobile home arena, educate yourself on the unique requirements and know the needs of the agent. You’ll enter a profitable niche in home inspection.