Having attended and watched hundreds of home inspections, I've had the opportunity to see the good, the bad, and the ugly ones.
Some inspectors really know their stuff, and can catch problems in a house the average person wouldn't. Others don't know what their doing, but somehow seem to get by on a good personality and sense of humour. Some think they aren't doing their job unless they can find a hundred things wrong with the property, and point out some irrelevant stuff.
In my opinion, the best home inspectors have the following skills:
Knowledge of building code, construction, common problems - not just in general, but area specific.
Personality - yep, it's important. Connecting with the new buyers and understanding their position really helps the process go smoothly. Some inspectors are excellent at it, some are plain lousy.
Tact - This is one of the biggest killers of any home inspection business. With a few quick questions, a good inspector quickly learns the buyer's knowledge of construction, as well as their comfort level in the purchase of their home, and treats them accordingly.
For example, if you're dealing with a buyer who knows nothing about homes and you tell them "the roof is failing on this home, I've found water damage in the attic", this will be grave news to them. Is the roof caving in? Structurally unsound? What have they bought? Explaining with some tact as well as keeping in mind who your audience is, will keep problems in perspective, "The roof has signs of a water leak that may be active. Replacing the roof shingles is necessary to correct the problem, costing an average of x dollars on a home this size", would work much better.
However if you were dealing with someone who knows a lot about home or building construction, it matters less how things are explained, and more that problems are not overlooked or not pointed out.
The ultimate bonus about home inspections is not just knowing the condition of what you're buying, but about home maintenance in general. Many first-time buyers know very little or nothing about how to maintain a home.
A good home inspector will show you all the workings of your home, how they work, and what needs to be done, such as: changing furnace & humidifier filters, furnace tune-up intervals, water valve shut-off locations and when to use them, electrical panel locations and identification of circuits in the home, plumbing clean-outs, thermostat use and humidistat functions, exterior grounds maintenance - proper drainage, keeping eaves clean, points of interest, etc, etc.
Home inspectors will answer all the goofy questions you can possibly come up with. Even if there was nothing at all wrong with the home, this bonus alone is worth the money. You'll move into your home with the knowledge of how to maintain it, when you should do it, when you should call someone, and how it's done. That alone brings a lot of peace of mind.
Did I say home inspections are recommended?
Lastly, where can you find a home inspector that possesses all these qualities? That's where we come in. We've seen inspectors that clients have chosen right out of the Yellow Pages, inspectors recommended by Realtors, and inspectors we like and use. We drop the bad ones and scribble in our book the ones that do the job right. That goes for lawyers, mortgage brokers, surveyors, and a ton of other professionals who are part of the process - so ask The Jay Magnussen Real Estate Team for a credible and reliable reference and we'll be happy to oblige.