We are very proud to be members of the Independent Home Inspectors of North America (IHINA). We have pledged that we will not solicit clients from Realtors or other real estate service providers. We don’t do promotional presentations in their offices; we don’t buy them donuts or candy; we don’t give gifts in exchange for referrals. And we certainly don’t accept any gifts from realtors either! It’s just not how we choose to operate.
In the early days of home inspection, being affiliated with a Realtor was about the only way you could be hired. Prior to the internet, most people didn’t even know they could hire their own inspector. They simply accepted the inspector chosen by their Realtor, and assumed they would be getting a quality inspection.
While that might have been true most of the time, some inspectors were known to write “soft” reports, downplaying some defects, in order to keep getting referrals from a particular Realtor. Write too many critical reports, and you would be labeled a “deal killer,” and wouldn’t get any more work from that office.
When we first opened our doors, we had to make the choice: market to Realtors or be independent. We chose to be independent, and will always stay that way. This decision actually saved our business a few years later!
The Bubble Burst
When the housing bubble burst in early 2008, many Realtors quit the business. This in turn led to a lot of home inspectors going bust when their main source of work dried up. Fortunately, we had an established presence on the internet, as well as getting referrals from happy customers, and our business steadily increased, even as about 35% of home inspectors in our area simply disappeared.
Why is independence important?
So why is it so important to hire an independent home inspector? Because you deserve to know exactly who your home inspector is working for. We have nothing against realtors, and even get referrals from them, but our livelihood does not depend on keeping them happy so they send us more work. Our job is to make sure you, our client, are getting a clear and accurate picture of the condition of the house, regardless of whether that’s a pretty picture or not. Sure, if you choose not to go through with the sale because of the conditions we report on, the realtor may be upset because they’ve lost out on a commission. After all, they only make money when a house is sold. But they’re not the ones who will have to live in that house! We want to ensure that you know exactly what kind of issues the house has, so you can make an informed decision.
Maryland law regarding Realtor Referrals
As of 2014, Maryland law requires Realtors to personally verify the licensing status of anyone they refer to a client. This means they must constantly be checking the DLLR database. The referral must be made in writing, and must include the date the agent last checked the database. It must also include the link to the licensing record. This isn’t just for home inspectors, either: it’s for any licensed professional, including mortgage lenders and brokers, appraisers, contractors, plumbers, electricians, and HVAC companies — in short, if it requires a state license, the referral must be in writing.
If you are concerned about our license status, we always have our current license available as a PDF download on our Brochures page. And if you have any questions regarding what it means to be an independent home inspector in Maryland, feel free to email us or give us a call!Tags: independent, realtor, referral