Trust But I-VERIFY

Inspector verify, what does that mean?

As a professional real estate agent, or broker, you are conscientious about integrity —and liability— and probably did ask your home inspector if he, or she, was certified or licensed.

Can you remember when you last did that?

Here’s the thing, and I know this will be hard for some of you to believe, but some home inspectors are not completely honest about their credentials, especially in states where no licensing is required.

There are several common tactics used by under-qualified and less-than-certified home inspectors who want to appear genuine.

One of the most common tactics is the “We adhere to the Standards of Practice of [fill in the blank]” tactic.

Note that “We adhere to [fill in the blank]” is quite different from “I am a certified member of [fill in the blank].”

This statement can be misleading and is sometimes used to imply that the inspector is a tested and certified member when he or she is not.

Any home inspector can claim to adhere to the Standards of Practice of an association. This statement can be misleading and is sometimes used to imply that the inspector is a tested and certified member when he or she is not. Some home inspectors have gone as far as to include the “We adhere to” language in their marketing literature.

A more recently developed tactic is the attempted use of the affiliate membership. Most any related business or organization can, for an annual fee, acquire an affiliate membership with a home inspection association as is with many other business associations. The affiliate membership allows the affiliate to market their products and/or services directly to the association’s members via the association.  This benefit may even allow the use of the association’s logo, depending on the association.

This would give the home inspector the ability to claim that he is a member without having to go through the certification process…

Some less-than-scrupulous home inspectors have taken to trying to deceive home inspection associations into providing them with an affiliate membership. This would give the home inspector the ability to claim that he is a member without having to go through the certification process, the process by which the inspector proves that he or she is qualified.

“Are you licensed?”

Another common deception is a simple answer in the affirmative to the general question, “Are you licensed?”

“Well of course.”

It might be enlightening to be specific about which license you are inquiring about. General business licenses provided by local cities and counties are cheap and do not reflect a home inspector’s qualifications or lack thereof. If your state requires licensing of home inspectors, ask the inspector if he is a “licensed home inspector,” and if he is, ask if he is licensed in your state.

I-VERIFY is easy. The major home inspection associations have a “Find an Inspector” search on their websites. If your home inspector does not appear in the search results, a quick call to the association would then be prudent. If the association does not have a phone number then you should draw your own conclusions about the integrity of the association.

It is also important to note that many of the insurance companies that provide E & O and general liability insurance to home inspectors require, or at least prefer and give discounted premiums to, inspectors who hold a membership in one of the recognized home inspection associations. The absence of a certification could also mean the absence of insurance.

Lastly, a successful building contractor has the best background for becoming a home inspector, and that can be a general contractor, a plumbing contractor, an electrical contractor, etc.; “successful” is the operative word.

…some home inspectors who have building contractor’s licenses have never built anything.

The building contractor’s license is probably one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented qualifications held by home inspectors. Now, it is not a bad thing, nor necessarily a deceptive thing, for a home inspector to have an active contractor’s license and use that license as a home inspector credential. The problem is that many home inspectors have acquired a contractor’s license for the specific and singular purpose of using it as home inspector credential. In other words, some home inspectors who have building contractor’s licenses have never built anything.

Maintaining a home inspector license, credential, or membership requires time and money. A home inspector has to be dutiful about his continuing education. Many experienced home inspectors maintain multiple certifications.

Your tested and qualified home inspector will be more than happy to show you all of his, or her, credentials. Just ask. Trust but I-Verify.

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