The home inspection industry is currently undergoing similar changes and trends. The rise of larger, multi-inspector firms is gaining momentum in the industry. Traditionally, most home inspection companies were one-person operators serving a small market area. They built up a steady list of agents that regularly referred inspection work.
What’s driving growth?
There are several forces driving the growth of multi-inspector companies. Similar to brokerages and teams, inspection companies are striving to be the “one-stop shop” for home inspection services. Many groups are offering an array of services to add-on to the inspection.
Radon testing, sewer scope inspections, mold testing, pest inspections, energy efficiency inspections, environmental testing, and other services are offered to home buyers as a bundled package. To perform all of these services, a large group or team of inspectors is needed.
In addition, as we have witnessed the tightening of inventory in most markets, we’ve seen deadlines and closing dates shorten. This has resulted in inspection objection times going from a week or 10 days from the time contracts are signed, down to a handful of days. To meet these shorter deadlines, a larger team of inspectors is needed to improve responsiveness. Where the schedule of a one-person inspection company fills quickly, a larger team of inspectors can maintain one or two day lead times.
Just as real estate teams can boost efficiency and productivity by adding administrative support personnel and lead-generating marketing staff, large multi-inspection companies follow that same model and have their own scheduling and marketing teams to improve their responsiveness and outreach to clients and agents.
By building a team of inspectors and support staff, an inspection company can keep up with a large team of agents and the volume they can refer that would otherwise overwhelm a single-operator inspector.
These industry changes aren’t without their own set of challenges. Just as we’ve seen the rise of coaching and training groups within the real estate community, focused on helping to grow a team, the same trends are occurring in the inspection industry.
Programs and organizations have risen to help owners and leadership teams of inspection companies develop their systems and processes to hire, train and manage a team of inspectors. We’ve seen some large inspection teams develop with 10, 20, 30+ inspectors on a team, with a few teams having 50+ inspectors. Growing and managing a large team of inspectors comes with a similar set of challenges a real estate team faces.
There are still a large number of one-person inspection companies and that won’t change, just like the individual real estate agent model will likely continue to have a place. The relationship that develops between an agent and a home inspector that is built on trust and mutual respect won’t stop anytime soon.
But the question remains as to whether the rise of larger teams and brokerages driven to provide complete solutions to home buyers will trigger changes in the role of home inspectors and how referrals will occur. Also, will home inspections be bundled into solutions that brokerages and agent teams are putting together for their clients?
Will we see agents continue to be concerned about liability if they only refer their favorite inspector, and therefore continue the current trend of recommending 3 inspection companies and keeping the inspection transaction at arm’s length in the purchase process? Or will we see home inspections bundled within packages that teams and brokerage companies put together for their clients? Time will tell.
Just as the real estate industry continues to go through consolidations and changes, we likely will continue to see the home inspection industry innovate and mirror many of these changes. These are exciting times to be in the home inspection industry and no matter what happens, developing and maintaining relationships has always been the key to success. That is a trend that will never go out of style.
George Scott is Founder and CEO of Scott Home Inspection, LLC
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