There are about 30,000 home inspectors in the U.S., but not all are licensed. In fact, there are around 15 states, California included, where inspectors aren’t required to be licensed at all, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. Others are Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.
Some states, such as Alabama, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania, simply require inspectors to register, rather than be licensed.
“It really depends on where you’re located,” says Frank Lesh, ASHI’s executive director. “Some states just require a very minimum… You have to have a business license and pretty much that’s it.”
Even the standards for licensing in the states that do offer it are inconsistent. Groups like ASHI offer training and certification programs that may meet or exceed some state standards that do require licensing.
The first state to adopt a licensing law for inspectors was Texas in 1991. Virginia will require licenses for all of its inspectors starting July 1, 2017. While home inspections aren’t generally required to buy a home, many buyers opt to get one to satisfy mortgage requirements, avoid pricey repairs after moving in, and to use as bargaining chips in negotiations.
Here are some Client Tips to share with your clients who are looking for help in choosing an inspector:
Do your homework — In the states that do require licenses for inspectors, homeowners learn more by consulting the licensing authority. In California, buyers may want to check with the local Better Business Bureau or consult online reviews.
Check for insurance — Homeowners likely will want to ask whether the inspector carries errors and omissions insurance, which covers mistakes the inspector may make. This can also be a sign of basic competence, since an insured inspector has likely been vetted by an insurance company.
Ask about professional affiliations — Inquire whether the inspector is involved in any professional affiliations, such as membership in a prominent trade organization.
When your clients do ultimately select an inspector, encourage your them to follow the inspector around and ask questions. The inspector can provide a tutorial on how everything in the home operates.
Source: “Be a Home Inspector Expert,” realtormag.realtor.org (December 27, 2016)