HouseMaster, a pioneer in the home inspection industry, is celebrating its 40th anniversary by taking a retrospective look at the industry. The company had its beginnings in the early 1970s, when founder Ken Austin met a builder who was trying to get the concept of home inspections off the ground.
Austin thought the concept had merit, and the two became partners and launched their home inspection franchise and mainstreamed the concept in 1979. Forty years later, HouseMaster has over 322 locations in the U.S. and Canada, led by president and CEO Kathleen Kuhn, Austin's daughter.
The late Ken Austin, founder of HouseMaster.
Carrying on the Legacy
Noting that April is National Home Inspection Month, Kuhn said that home inspectors work hand-in-hand with real estate professionals to help consumers make informed decisions.
"Today, we are committed to helping consumers use the information we provide to better navigate the sales process and help them as they transition from home buyers to homeowners."
Kuhn said that when her father launched the company, only about 2 percent of all home purchases received an inspection prior to sale. In general, the information provided to consumers was limited. Today, inspection reports, such as those prepared by HouseMaster, are considered an essential part of home buying. Post-inspection reports provide highly detailed information, and often include instant repair estimates.
Then and Now: What Services Are Now Available from Home Inspectors
Today, inspection reports are often delivered in a digital format. In the case of HouseMaster, reports go into a special HouseMaster Cloud Account. This allows customers to simply view their inspection reports in the cloud and create a list of repairs to ask the seller to fix. With the click of a button, this information goes to the seller or their advisors.
Many leading home inspection companies offer value-added services that weren't available 40 years ago:
Appliance recall information and ongoing alerts
Home management platforms to help manage home maintenance
Savings on key services and products commonly needed by a home buyer
Repair list generation tools to help buyers document their repair requests for the seller
Inspection guarantees to give home buyers peace of mind
Repair estimates that let consumers generate localized cost estimates to help them either negotiate the repairs or budget for them
HouseMaster's Tips for Real Estate Professionals
Check experience and training. Ask how long the company has been in business and about the specific formal training and ongoing education the inspectors have and verify the company carries professional liability insurance, also known as "Errors & Omissions" (E&O). If the company doesn't carry this insurance, it could indicate a poor track record or lack of experience.
Ensure accountability. Buyers' agents want to know their inspector is committed to doing their best every time. Look for a home inspector who will be accountable by offering their own written guarantee. Many home inspectors today pay third-party companies to cover issues they may miss.
Go along on the inspection. A inspection company should encourage buyers (and their agents) to tag along on the inspection. A home inspection is not simply a laundry list of what is wrong with the home. In addition to documenting issues and needed repairs that may exist, a professional home inspector will also show the new buyer how to operate the various systems in the home and provide tips on improving energy efficiency and maintaining the home in general. And being present during the inspection will make the final written report that much more meaningful.
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