Home inspections are a normal part of the buying and selling process. Most people ask for an assessment as a contingency to their offer. If the professional uncovers damage, the buyer can renegotiate or pull out of their contract. These inspections are crucial since they can find significant issues with a property.
The world had to react to an ever-changing environment in 2020, and many businesses turned to technology to bridge the gaps. As a result, industries have begun looking into ways to move forward amid uncertainty. Videoconferencing has allowed many people to interact while maintaining social distance, but this solution doesn’t work for every industry.
Here are five reasons why home inspections will never go virtual.
1. Overwhelming Knowledge Gap
Home inspectors need to follow state regulations regarding licensure and certification. Before becoming certified, they must complete the necessary coursework and pass the licensing exam. While requirements differ in each state, most use the National Home Inspector Examination as part of their process.
Inspectors also learn on the job to gain the experience necessary to complete the work accurately. The end result is a trained professional who knows what they’re looking for during a home inspection.
Buyers, sellers and real estate agents do not have this knowledge, and it would be impractical to expect them to have the same sixth sense as a state-certified inspector. A virtual home inspection would require one of these individuals to bring a recording device to the property. They would either livestream or send videos and photos the inspector could review in their own time. In both situations, the inspector must rely upon an untrained person to take pictures at the correct angles.
An inspector can look at items and follow their intuition during an in-person visit. Something could easily catch their attention that might not be listed on a universal inspection checklist. Besides the obvious potential for technological problems, owners and agents would not necessarily recognize warning signs or strange sounds, and those may not be obvious on video. Ultimately this could cause many issues to slip through the cracks, leading to money and time loss for the buyers long term.
2. Missed in-Person Communication
When an inspector views the property in person, they can communicate immediately with the individuals who requested the service. It allows for a genuine, streamlined conversation where the professional can explain their findings or answer questions. If there’s a need for future renovations, a discussion can occur on-site rather than through email or notes. This helps to eliminate the chances of miscommunication.
Parties could have virtual discussions during a livestreamed inspection, but there’s no guarantee the internet connection would be strong enough for that type of interaction. While popular, smartphones, tablets and computers are not universal, which would complicate the inspection process.
3. Lack of Clarity
Even the most skilled home inspectors will make mistakes if they only have a virtual connection to the property. These professionals rely on all their senses during an inspection, and online assessments would limit their abilities to do their jobs thoroughly. Virtual inspections would hinder the investigative process, leading to subpar results. This could have dangerous implications if faulty wiring manages to pass a review.
Proponents of a virtual system suggest that the person holding the camera should fill in the blanks for inspectors by describing what they hear and smell. This method could put the person at risk if they handle mold or toxic substances.
4. Unaccessible Inspection Sites
There are many types of home inspections available to buyers and sellers. While a formal review includes a visual examination, many specialized inspections involve accessing locations unsafe for inexperienced individuals to reach.
Specialized inspections include:
- Septic system
- Pest, termite and rodent
- Lead paint
It would be near impossible to complete these examinations virtually.
5. Extreme Honesty Requirement
Even if a homeowner decides to sell their house “as is,” they’re legally required to provide written disclosure of the property’s condition. Many sellers choose to withhold information, and others try to lie. If the seller controls the camera during a virtual inspection, they can hide damage or angle the video to reduce the severity of issues.
While these gestures could be accidental, they may also land the seller in hot water. They could be accused of obstructing the inspection and intentionally withholding information.
How to Have a Safe in-Person Home Inspection
It’s clear that home inspections should never be fully virtual experiences, but how can you stay safe with infections on the rise?
Inspectors, homeowners and real estate agents can follow these four tips to reduce the risk of spreading germs and viruses. These pointers are simple to implement and will help keep people safe during uncertain times.
1. Maintain Social Distance
It’s crucial to maintain a social distance during home inspections. You should resist the urge to crowd together when looking in individual rooms. When possible, owners should leave the premise so the professional can work uninterrupted and without fear of proximity issues.
It’s also better to hire a single inspector who can simultaneously carry out multiple reviews rather than hire three separate experts to complete specialized tasks.
2. Wear Protective Equipment
Inspectors should wear a facial covering and come equipped with protective gear before entering a property. These standards will help protect them and the property owners.
They’ll be less likely to come into contact with the virus, and they can change out of the equipment once they have exited the premises. Gloves should be worn using the inspector’s discretion, as they may interfere with the housing examination.
3. Sanitize and Minimize Touch
Homeowners can minimize the number of bacteria present in the home by sanitizing before and after the visit. They can also set up a handwashing station or provide complimentary hand sanitizer. The home inspector should also have some in their vehicle to use after the housing examination.
Inspectors should minimize the number of items they touch within the property. Besides wearing gloves, they can ask the owners to open panels and doors before the inspection.
4. Include Video Notes
These precautions make in-person conversations challenging. Therefore, the inspector should take extra pictures and videos to review with their client post-inspection. They can interact safely via a videoconference where it would be possible to go over results in a slide show format.
It’s essential to prioritize these discussions since it is easy to miscommunicate over the phone.
The Bottom Line
Home inspections will never go virtual because they’d lose their value and endanger the lives of property owners. While the process may be more complex, it is possible to safely conduct in-person inspections. By following these four tips, clients can feel confident in their home inspection quality and remain stress-free during the buying process.