Just What Industry Are We In?

Home Inspector with Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington 215

The title of the post and the question itself probably seem a bit silly.  Everybody here on AR is in the same business whether they're a Realtor, Inspector, Mortgage Broker, Stager.  Quite often though I see people confuse industry with job. A good example was this last Friday.

I was taken by surprise during one of my inspections Friday, of a Clarkston WA house. I had an exchange with a Realtor from Lewiston ID that went something like this:

Inspector:  So, have you been keeping tracks of the changes in the home inspection side of things?

Realtor:  No.  Why should I pay attention to your industry?

Huh?  Since I didn't have a ready answer, I think she had a point.  And in my usual way, I thought of all sorts of good answers - hours later.  Before I arrived at those answers though, I had to think it through.  So now I have an answer, of sorts.  Why should you pay attention to my industry?  Because we're in the same industry and what affects me affects the Realtor as well.

Washington State is in the process of licensing the home inspectors that work here.  This is a fairly large change and, in SE Washington, not well recognized.  Washington currently requires inspectors to have Structural Pest Inspector licenses - only three inspectors out of a dozen here carry that license and the others work with a degree of impunity.  Clarkston and Pullman are 400 miles from Olympia.  In terms of attention, we're pretty well ignored (except the Department of Revenue!)

The changes that are coming though are going to make it more difficult for Realtors to avoid the licensed inspector for their preferred inspector (and please, I am not bashing the Realtor here - the unlicensed inspector is a different story.)  Inspectors working in Washington will have to include their license number on the report.  Brokers will be looking for those (or should be).  Without it, they place themselves in a position of legal jeopardy.  There are literally dozens of other things that will be changing.

The Realtors don't know it.  And it is completely my fault.

I haven't communicated the changes to them.  I keep up with what is happening in the various aspects of the industry.  I am always curious as to what is happening in somone else's neck of the woods, what problems are they facing, what can I learn, who can I help?  To spend hours with my head in a code book or online reading Russel Ray or Steven L Smith or online journals is second nature and, quite literally, a pleasure.  I'm even worse with college basketball.

It's part of my job to help the Realtors by keeping them fully informed of things that can adversely affect them and their clients.  Usually, I do that by giving them the best inspection I can (shameless plug here: I'm a pretty good inspector!) but sometimes I can accomplish more good by working with the Realtors than with our clients.

We share the same goal - to help our clients find homes that they will be happy in for as long as they choose to stay there.  That's our industry.  We all have a part to play in it. 



Comments (8)

Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Paul, all good points----it is sort of funny how the two professions teach each other about what is going on in the industy.

Feb 09, 2009 11:49 AM
Ian Niquette
Square One Home Inspection - Markesan, WI

Paul, you may be well served by actually coming up with an answer for next time. Now, you can educate realtors about tis change before it happnes, then when it does they will remember you and may refer you. Hope everything works out for you guys.

Feb 09, 2009 01:21 PM
Hi Paul. I like you're last sentence "We all have a part to play in it." I am also glad that you accepted complete responsibility for fault so no one that comments can be wrong. :) I feel the "bell curve" applies, there are leaders and laggards surrounding the majority. To me, it sounds like you were initiating a leading conversation to a laggard in the industry. I am not suggesting there is anything wrong here, since I also believe there are leading and lagging clients that prefer a leading or lagging professional respectively. And of course, we all choose our part to play in all the aspects of the industry. The signal that stands out to me, is that if there are any issues in your report that are related to leading issues (licensing, recent recalls, new guidelines for warnings, or training) and your client discusses them with the Realtor, then you can expect some follow-up calls from your client. An interesting topic. I am wondering how this client selected the Realtor and how they selected you as their home inspector.
Feb 10, 2009 02:11 AM
Scott Patterson, ACI
Trace Inspections, LLC - Spring Hill, TN
Home Inspector, Middle TN

I would not call home inspecting an industry, we don't make anything.  I would and I do call it a profession and I'm a professional!

Feb 10, 2009 04:57 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Scott, I agree, but can we be "industrious" professionals?:)

Feb 10, 2009 05:03 AM
Paul Duffau
Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington - Asotin, WA
Caring for People, Educating about Homes

I don't know how they selected the Realtor but the person purchasing the home was referred to me by my daughter, who takes classes with her at one of the local colleges.  My daughter has actually worked with me for several summers and is quite good at the duties that I assigned her.  More importantly, she is smart enough to know when she's over her head and ask for guidence.

I received glowing praise from my client but would not have been contacted without the personal referral.  The broker of this same agency is the one that told me that "deals were hard enough to close without my magic raygun" (infrared camera).  I don't market there except with agents with whom I have experience and trust - of 48 agents, that's 3.

Scott - it depends on the definition of industry that you use.  There is a "banking industry" for example and they don't "make" anything either.  In a service economy, the definitions may acquire new facets while retainng the core of the original.

Charles, way to break up a good etymological debate with reason and humor.  Sheesh.  :}

Feb 10, 2009 01:19 PM
Paul Duffau
Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington - Asotin, WA
Caring for People, Educating about Homes

Ian, the answers are ready and I used the experience for a jumping off point to contact various offices.  Right now, I have 4 presentations scheduled for next week. Fortunately 3 of them are on the same day or I would get hammered on scheduling. 


Feb 10, 2009 01:22 PM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

The beauty of the English language is that it can, and does, change. Most stagnant languages are now dead languages. Thus, I have no problem calling the home inspection industry an "industry."

I don't make presentations to offices because there are still over 600 offices here in San Diego County. I do send out monthly emails and I'm always asking Realtors to write their legislators to ask for home inspector licensing here in California. No luck yet. And I moved here because it was a progressive state. Hah!

Feb 17, 2009 07:10 PM