Many buyers and sellers are viewing properties and having their homes visited in a much different way thanks to COVID-19. The same is true for home inspections. Inspectors have had to adapt processes to strike a balance between meeting safe social distancing needs while inside clients’ homes and not compromising the key information that must be relayed pertaining to the property to ensure buyers are making educated decisions.
Leaders in the home inspection industry adapted quickly and saw the pandemic as a catalyst to elevate the inspection experience through technology, bringing even more value to clients and real estate professionals.
Now well into the second wave, we’ve reached a point when many buyers, sellers, Realtors and others are suffering from COVID-19 exhaustion – mental and emotional stress associated with the added worry of contracting and/or spreading the virus during the buying and selling process.
With booming housing markets across the country fueled by low supply, high demand and record-low mortgage rates, it’s important for home inspectors to help bridge the gap and ensure stress is alleviated for everyone involved.
While those of us in the real estate industry have had months to prepare and adapt, we must remember that the average homeowner, seller and buyer is going through this experience for the first time since the pandemic began. That’s why communication is key. By setting expectations for homeowners, sellers, buyers and Realtors, the home inspection process is able to run smoothly and provide the protection required to help people make educated purchase decisions.
Here are three important steps that must be reviewed prior to each inspection:
1. Setting clear expectations.
Explain to all parties that their safety is being kept top of mind while the inspection is being carried out. This includes detailing all precautions that will be exercised inside the home during the inspection – wearing a mask and gloves at all times and sanitizing where required – and confirming all parties are comfortable with this process.
2. Taking a “less is more” approach.
Demonstrating the importance of keeping everyone as safe as possible while completing all inspections to the highest of standards by not touching the homeowner’s personal effects or any surface that’s not necessary to perform the inspection.
3. Embracing technology.
Equipment and practices such as the use of thermal imaging (infrared cameras) and digital reports have been in place for some time, but innovative use of such things as embedded video in reports encourages a much more interactive way for inspectors to communicate with clients. Video calls have also revolutionized the way inspectors provide essential information to clients about a property, since questions can be addressed live much like if they attended the home inspection together.
When a central part of your business revolves around showing people specifics within a property and in-person meetings are no longer possible, it can be challenging to find ways to do business that meet the needs of as many homeowners, buyers and sellers as possible.
Prior to the pandemic, home inspectors encouraged buyers or sellers – depending on the nature of the inspection – to participate in the home inspection live to help them better understand the condition of the home. While it’s no longer plausible to encourage clients to join in during the inspection, we are able to review the inspection report over the phone, video conference or email following the inspection. So, much like Realtors have adapted by taking advantage of virtual showings, home inspectors are also sharing knowledge about the inspection virtually by whichever means the client prefers.
Fortunately, technology offers safer ways for home inspectors to provide unbiased advice and educated information to clients when face-to-face contact isn’t safe. This has been an incredible shift in the way home inspectors are doing business, much like Realtors and other service providers in the real estate industry have worked together – while remaining distanced – to keep processes flowing.
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