Having a home inspection done is one of the best investments a potential buyer or homeowner can make. As a home inspector, you’re a detail-oriented person – it’s what makes you so good at your job. However, the downside of all the detail you put into your report is that it can sometimes be overwhelming for clients to read through and understand.
Why are home inspection reports intimidating?
A client likely hires a home inspector because an inspector’s training involves looking for things that the average person, even someone with a construction background, might not know to check for. That’s amazing because they benefit from the inspector’s expertise, but it can also mean that the report is full of terminology they don’t fully understand.
In addition, most home inspections will come back with at least some small but potentially significant items that need fixing. This can be tough to accept, especially amid the unfamiliar language in the report.
In an effort to keep rose-colored glasses on, homeowners will often downplay the importance of the report’s contents. It’s never fun to find out that your home, or potential home, needs work. Homeowners may say things like “It’s probably not that bad,” or, “Sure, we need to fix it, but not right away.” It’s important to be transparent with buyers about what needs their immediate attention and what can wait. This helps them not be overwhelmed with information so they can put together a list based on priority.
How to guide a buyer through a home inspection report
Explain the purpose of the home inspection report
A great best practice is to remind your clients why they hired you. Some people can become defensive or combative when their report comes back with issues that need addressing. Reminding them you’re there to protect their investment and help them uncover trouble spots — you’re not trying to insult their possession — is important.
Remember that buying a home is a nerve-wracking experience, and many people are going through a period of high anxiety and tension. If you’re there to guide them as a trusted partner, instead of being someone they perceive as a figure that’s there to cause problems for them, you’ll find they’ll be much more receptive to your report and any trouble spots it might bring to light.
Much of this comes back to constant positive communication. You never know what your clients hired you — they could easily have been convinced by their realtor or family member and have little understanding of what you bring to the table. We can all be guilty of forgetting that other people aren’t as well versed in what we do, so remind your clients of the reason why a home inspection helps them.
Make the home inspection report easy to understand
Chances are, you’re so used to seeing your reports that it seems everyone should be as fluent in them as you are. Remember that most people don’t have the knowledge or expertise you do, so helping them understand without info-dumping is crucial. Referrals are a big part of business, and guiding your clients through their reports can make the difference between a glowing referral and nothing at all, or worse, a negative review.
1. Go over results in person.
Emailing a report to a client can be easy, but may take away that personal touch. Leaving clients to interpret your report on their own can cause misunderstandings and confusion. Talk with them in person about the contents of your report to ease their worries and provide a positive experience. It’s a good idea to build this into your schedule with your clients from the beginning so that they expect the in-person meeting and make time for it.
2. Cut down on jargon.
Industry jargon sneaks into our everyday language, which can be intimidating for laypeople. Make sure you’re conscious of this when talking to your clients so they understand without feeling talked down to.
3. Include summaries with your report.
More than anything, your clients want to know what your report means for them and their home purchase. Including a summary can make your report less daunting for them and help them list what issues they need to address and when.
4. Use images and tables where applicable.
Most people are very visual, and laying things out with images and tables can help them absorb a lot of information more easily. It might take you a bit of extra time, but your clients will appreciate the effort.
Follow up with your clients to go over any questions
It can often take some time for the contents of your report to settle in, even if you walk through them in person with your clients. A great practice is to let your clients know you’re available in the weeks following their inspection for any questions they might have, and then send them a text, email, or call them within a week of your in-person meeting.
If follow-ups aren’t your strong suit, make it easy on yourself by leveraging technology and setting reminders in your calendar to give you that extra nudge. You can even schedule follow-up emails if you’re on the more tech-savvy side. Some home inspection apps like ISN may even have that built-in. Make sure you’re taking advantage of those tools that make your life easier!
This step is easy to overlook, but it can provide an excellent experience for your clients that is likely to result in glowing reviews for you and potentially more referral business.
Helping your clients understand their home inspection report can make the difference between feeling that your service was money well spent and feeling that the experience wasn’t one they’d repeat. With some attention and time investment, your clients will feel confident that you provided the best service. That means glowing reviews for you, and likely that your clients will refer you to friends and family buying homes in your area, and we all know referrals are the best kind of business! If you’re looking for new ways to grow and scale your business, our home inspection software can help you achieve your goals.