2 Parts
11
QUESTIONS

Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. Property Inspectors

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A new RealEstateBees.com survey of over 2,000 active property inspectors found that despite the negative impact on their business caused by the COVID-19, more than 50% are seeing new opportunities opened by the pandemic.

The following segmented report provides results of a large scale survey—Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Real Estate Businesses—conducted by the Real Estate Bees research team, leading real estate platform for real estate professionals.

The following statistics reflect the situation among the US real estate inspectors. We reached out to over 2,000 active property inspectors from all the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. to collect their insight on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry in general and their businesses in particular.

The report is divided into the following two parts.

1. Multiple choice questions where the professionals had to choose one of the suggested answers to each question:

1.1 Is there a negative impact the pandemic is having on property inspectors?
1.2 Has the pandemic opened any unexpected opportunities for property inspectors?
1.3 How are you adjusting your marketing budget?
1.4 Are you transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?
1.5 Have you noticed any benefits of transferring your business processes to a “work from home” basis?
1.6 Have you noticed any drawbacks of transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?
1.7 Will you keep your business processes transferred to a “work from home” basis after the pandemic is over?

2. Open questions that allowed the experts to share their insights on various aspects of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. real estate inspectors:

2.1 What are the specific negative impacts the pandemic is having on property inspectors?
2.2 What unexpected opportunities have the pandemic opened for property inspectors?
2.3 If you knew the impact of this situation on your business in advance, how would you prepare your business to mitigate your losses or even profit from it?
2.4 What marketing channels do you prefer to use during the pandemic over the rest and why?

Multiple Choice Questions
1
QUESTION

Is there a negative impact the pandemic is having on property inspectors?

2
QUESTION

Has the pandemic opened any unexpected opportunities for real estate inspectors?

3
QUESTION

How are you adjusting your marketing budget?

4
QUESTION

Are you transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?

5
QUESTION

Have you noticed any benefits of transferring your business processes to a “work from home” basis?

6
QUESTION

Have you noticed any drawbacks of transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?

7
QUESTION

Will you keep your business processes transferred to a “work from home” basis after the pandemic is over?

Open Questions
8
QUESTION

What are the specific negative impacts the pandemic is having on property inspectors?

Key takeaways from the property inspectors’ answers:

  • As open houses have been stopped, there was a significant drop in the number of buyers purchasing occupied homes, which meant a drop as well in the inspections being requested.
  • Not a lot of homes are being sold, as sellers are concerned about their safety. Some sellers are refusing inspections as this means leaving their homes for a good two to three hours without anywhere to go while the inspections are being conducted.
  • Due to the required safety protocols, inspections take much longer to conduct. The pandemic has also changed the way inspections are done, with more inspectors turning to virtual inspections instead.
  • Buyers who have lost income have found it difficult to qualify for a mortgage. Mortgage closings have also been affected as banks were closed for two months. This resulted in fewer orders inspectors are getting.
  • With not a lot of inspection jobs, inspection companies aren’t getting reviews on online platforms, which makes it more difficult to promote the business.
  • Inspectors have found themselves low on business on periods when it was usually the busiest, like February, March, and April. These months are usually when buyers purchase homes before the summer season or moving into new school districts.
  • Despite a number of inspection refusals, inspectors are still able to find a common ground with sellers in order for transactions to move forward and fulfill buyers’ due diligence.
  • Startups have delayed the launch of their home inspection division. Processing of paperwork and license issuance required for home inspections have been suspended.
  • The pandemic has put pressure on inspectors to ensure that property inspections can be conducted without putting their clients or themselves at risk for virus exposure.

 

Gordy Haynes, Orlando’s Best Home Inspection, LLC

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Gordy Haynes Property Inspector

As an Orlando home inspection firm, my business dropped off by about 75% from January through April. I began to see an uptick in May and right now my business is steadily picking up.

COVID-19 has created a new protocol for the inspection industry that includes special training for safer inspections. Wireless communications and social distancing etc., all have now become the new norm. And with that said, no real guarantees that anyone is safe from catching the virus!

The overall effects and potential outcome of COVID-19 and the social divides in the country right now are still very uncertain, especially with the civil unrest and division we are experiencing in our country.

There are so many variables that, at this time, I don’t think we can count on a stabilized or predictable position and outcome for the virus, unemployment, social unrest, and a recovery that our country and the world need so badly.

I think it’s so important that we, as a society, realize that we need each other. Each industry and market, including real estate and associated businesses, will require new and innovative options to regain our stature and move forward once again.

We need to become more independent of foreign products and services and begin rebuilding our lives with an understanding that things have now changed forever.

 

Christopher Tweedie, Confidence Building Inspections

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Christopher Tweedie Property Inspector

The pandemic has slowed home sales based on people’s concerns for their safety. A person wishing to sell their home may not want strangers walking through their property. Buyers may not wish to walk through a property for the same reason.

It has put pressure on the property inspectors to demonstrate that we can still conduct your property inspection without putting our clients or ourselves at risk. At Confidence Building Inspections, we have been fortunate to collaborate with other real estate professionals through video productions and discussion panels that map out the steps we have all taken to reduce everyone’s exposure to others.

At our company in particular, this includes paperless agreements for e-signatures, electronic transmission of reporting, and online billing and payment options. Additionally we use personal protective equipment that includes nitrile gloves, disposable surgical masks, and foot coverings. This equipment is also provided to participants in the inspection, along with hand sanitizer.

Finally, we have implemented new cleaning procedures of all of our equipment, phones, and iPads (pre- and post-inspection). For those that do not wish to attend an inspection, we offer a Facetime call at the conclusion of an inspection while still on the property, where we point out areas of concern to the clients. Zoom is also available for anyone having questions after receiving their reports.

 

Steve Nadeau, Metro Home Inspection

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Steve Nadeau Property Inspector

Business has slowed some, but not by much. I like for my clients to be present so that I can respond to their questions and concerns, but COVID-19 safety protocols require social distancing, wearing a mask, and limited time in enclosed spaces.

I often ask ahead of time if there are any specific concerns my clients have, and then ask them to join me at the end of the inspection for a walkthrough. This allows us to make the most of the inspection while following the CDC guidelines for a safe inspection.

 

Trent Mengel, Pillar to Post Home Inspections Mengel Team

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Trent Mengel Property Inspector

A large percentage of our inspections are from buyers purchasing occupied homes. Since unknown people are coming in and out of your home, open houses have been stopped. Even if they walk through virtually and decide, sellers need to leave their homes for two to three hours while we inspect and there’s nowhere to go.

Since banks are closed, mortgage closings are backed up 30 to 45 days. So really the industry stopped for two months.

 

Eric S. Drury, Estate Group Finance, LLC

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Eric S. Drury Property Inspector

As a new startup, the launch of the home inspection division of my business has been delayed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has stopped the Indiana Home Inspection Board from processing the paperwork and issuance of licenses that are required to legally perform the home inspections.

 

Mike Chamberlain, MC2 Home Inspections

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Mike Chamberlain Property Inspector

Since the pandemic began in March we saw a considerable drop in home buying. I think many people are scared to go into someone else’s home without knowing for sure that they are not being exposed to the coronavirus. We have been in business for 13 years and without question, this is the slowest year we have had since inception.

 

Aaron Shishilla, Waypoint Property Inspection

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Aaron Shishilla Property Inspector

Some of the negative impacts include less interaction with clients and realtors and fewer Google reviews since we aren’t able to do a lot of inspections. As there are fewer home transactions, there’s also less business. We also experienced minor technical issues with transitioning the office.

 

Lutz Vomberg, North Valley Home Inspection

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Lutz Vomberg Property Inspector

Reduced number of homes sold, as well as longer time to do the inspections due to the protective measures we have to take. For example, having to wipe down every surface we touch both before and after the inspection. This protects both the inspector, the seller, and the buyer.

 

David Grant, Grant’s Inspections

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David Grant Property Inspector

There are fewer people buying houses due to job loss, so there are fewer inspections to do. The pandemic has also changed how inspections are done. Inspectors are doing more virtual inspections instead of having the protection buyers need at the inspection.

 

Mike Leggett, The BrickKicker

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Mike Leggett Property Inspector

We have had a few sellers that did not want to allow anyone inside their home for a property inspection but usually, we find that both parties are committed to moving the transaction forward without disruptions to the buyers’ due diligence.

 

John Kidwell, Kidwell Home Inspection, Inc.

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John Kidwell Property Inspector

Requests for our services are down 80%. February, March, and April are historically our busy times, when people are buying new homes prior to summer and moving into new school districts.

9
QUESTION

What unexpected opportunities has the pandemic opened for property inspectors?

Key takeaways from the property inspectors’ answers:

  • Inspection firms that have not reduced their prices are losing to those who have due to price shopping. Those who have remained active in the business have gained new connections such as agents and realtors.
  • Inspectors who provide virtual walkthroughs are able to get clients despite the pandemic by offering buyers a new way to get a home inspection. This option is becoming popular among homebuyers because it’s cheaper yet provides a comprehensive home inspection.
  • By getting certified for COVID-19 safety protocols and procedures, inspectors have a new way to set them apart from competitors and remain active in the business.
  • The pandemic has given inspection firms the chance to reconnect better with realtors who refer clients to them. This has also opened doors for inspectors to communicate with their clients better by assuring them of their commitment to excellent service.
  • Inspectors are also using this time to promote their business and earn money on the side by utilizing online-based methods like blogs and webinars. Some have also used this period to streamline the business and offer new services for commercial and residential clients.
  • Inspection companies are also discovering a variety of new ways to operate their business. Some are taking advantage of the efficiency and lower cost of operating the business from their homes.
  • The chance to collaborate with other real estate professionals was one of the biggest opportunities that opened during the pandemic. The willingness to work together has provided clients a safe end-to-end transaction.

 

Gordy Haynes, Orlando’s Best Home Inspection, LLC

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Gordy Haynes Property Inspector

In general, buyers and sellers alike realize that home inspection is no longer just a good idea. It’s required to protect the interest of all concerned. With that said, the refinances and what new loans can close seem to have come with a fever. The area prices for some inspection firms seem to have dropped. I have not reduced my prices, so I do see a loss to some competitors through price shopping.

I offer a walkthrough option that’s become popular with some homebuyers and sellers alike. It costs less than a full home inspection. It’s less intensive, and the report and images are smaller. However, it provides a ton of information as the client walks the property with me.

Insurance inspections, 4 point and wind mitigation inspections are often tied to mortgage refinances as well.

 

Christopher Tweedie, Confidence Building Inspections

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Christopher Tweedie Property Inspector

I think one of the biggest opportunities that opened was the willingness and collaboration among real estate professionals that include home inspectors, realtors, lenders, and legal professionals to work together and provide a safe end-to-end transaction.

We all know it is in our best interest to demonstrate that we take our clients’ safety as a top priority and allow buyers and sellers to move forward confidently with their real estate transactions.

 

Scott Whitbeck, HomeTeam Inspection Service, LLC

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Scott Whitbeck Property Inspector

We discovered that many of our competitors were reluctant to remain active in our industry at the beginning of the pandemic, although there were immediate opportunities for inspectors to get certified (through InterNachi or others) for COVID-19 inspection safety protocols and procedures.

This was a gain for us, as we took advantage of the opportunities available to safely inspect properties and to keep working, even when sellers and sellers’ agents were reluctant to allow anyone into their homes.

 

Tom Gould, WIN Home Inspection Aurora South

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Tom Gould Property Inspector

There were a number of inspectors that refused to function during the shutdown, so the ones that continued on, including our company, did gain new agents and realtors. There were also opportunities to step back without clients present to focus on new ways of doing the job and learning new protocols to keep our sellers and buyers safe while still doing our jobs.

Any chance to learn something new is an opportunity.

 

Mike Leggett, The BrickKicker

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Mike Leggett Property Inspector

This has been a great opportunity for us to reconnect with our referral base (realtors) and to show our clients that we have superior communication skills and are willing to take customer service to the next level by providing consistent follow-up and being available to stay in touch with our clients after the inspection report has been delivered.

 

Tracey Litt, Litt Home Inspection LLC

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Tracey Litt Property Inspector

I am now doing inspections alone and having a Zoom meeting with my clients to go over the report later in the day. So, I guess the virtual Zoom report review is something I could market.

 

Eric S. Drury, Estate Group Finance, LLC

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Eric S. Drury Property Inspector

Yes, I have taken the additional time and decided to streamline the home inspection business towards performing indoor air quality lab testing for commercial and residential properties.

 

Steve Nadeau, Metro Home Inspection

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Steve Nadeau Property Inspector

I have taken a course in COVID-19 safety precautions, and I can let prospective clients know that to set me above my competition in yet another way.

 

Trent Mengel, Pillar to Post Home Inspections Mengel Team

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Trent Mengel Property Inspector

This pandemic has given me the opportunity to offer virtual home inspections that give the buyer a 360° look at every room with the inspection details highlighted.

10
QUESTION

If you knew the impact of this situation on your business in advance, how would you prepare your business to mitigate your losses or even profit from it?

Key takeaways from the property inspectors’ answers:

  • Offering more than just inspection services could have been utilized to generate more business opportunities. Diversifying service offerings, like offering home repairs, is key to stay relevant during the pandemic.
  • Improving the company website to get more organic traffic through SEO, incorporate marketing initiatives, such as promoting new inspection services or new company policies regarding safe inspections, is a smart move to reach out to clients who are staying home due to the pandemic.
  • Setting up video conferencing tools like Zoom would have given inspectors an easier transition to online-based operations.
  • It would have been helpful for inspectors to add PPE gear to their essential equipment to ensure safer work conditions.
  • Having a cash reserve for emergency purposes is always a good idea to tide any business over during difficult times.
  • For some, there wasn’t anything that could have been done differently, as the industry is unique itself and preparing for unexpected events like the onslaught of the coronavirus wouldn’t have made any difference.

 

Gordy Haynes, Orlando’s Best Home Inspection, LLC

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Gordy Haynes Property Inspector

I would have created more inspection diversity. I offer a referral for any home inspection service I don’t do in-house, so I could have structured my website and marketing to incorporate a broader market call. I would also have developed additional business opportunities like utilizing my website more and improving SEO service to a wider ranging market.

 

Christopher Tweedie, Confidence Building Inspections

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Christopher Tweedie Property Inspector

I don’t think I would have changed much. We were already in a position to keep things virtual. However, if we were forewarned, it may have given many of us the ability to enforce the narrative that we can still continue to move forward safely with those buying and selling real estate.

 

John Kidwell, Kidwell Home Inspection, Inc.

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John Kidwell Property Inspector

We have a cash reserve for unknown problems, mostly to prep for legal actions, insurance, training, etc. We would have branched out into home repairs. Our inspectors all have a background in the trades, so I could have utilized it more.

 

Eric S. Drury, Estate Group Finance, LLC

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Eric S. Drury Property Inspector

I am in the process of further hedging due to unexpected circumstances, such as limiting the investment of my time and a more diverse range of financial investments, emergency supplies, and variations to retirement income.

 

Lance Luke, Construction Management Inspection LLC

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Lance Luke Property Inspector

I would have promoted a lot more and diversified earlier. I would also have put more time and energy into my blog and started promoting my Virtual Inspection Programway in advance.

 

Aaron Shishilla, Waypoint Property Inspection

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Aaron Shishilla Property Inspector

We would have focused on our marketing strategies earlier so we could be more effective. We could have also utilized high search engine optimization.

 

Mike Leggett, The BrickKicker

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Mike Leggett Property Inspector

We would have acted sooner to set up our Zoom conferencing initiatives and to collect the PPE gear that is necessary to work safely.

 

Marc B. LeBlanc, Sherlock Home Inspection Service, LLC

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Marc B. LeBlanc Property Inspector

I would have developed and advertised a new company policy that promotes safe practices in completing inspections.

11
QUESTION

What marketing channels do you prefer to use during the pandemic over the rest and why?

Key takeaways from the property inspectors’ answers:

  • Social media platforms, coupled with SEO efforts and email marketing initiatives, are being utilized heavily during the pandemic as they are cost-efficient and effective in building long-term relationships with clients.
  • Video conferencing tools like Zoom are being used for marketing as well, to organize events and discussions with local agents and other real estate professionals.
  • Online advertising through Google remains a reliable tool for inspectors in getting better response rates from potential clients.
  • Getting in touch through traditional means like phone, text messages, and word of mouth is still being utilized as this allows inspectors to connect to real estate professionals on a more personal level and let them know that inspectors are still active in the business and offering safe inspections.
  • More old-fashioned methods like giving out business cards, postcards, and promotional materials like shirts, hats, and yard signs are still effective yet low-cost marketing tools.
  • One-on-one outreach to real estate agents also helps generate more clients.

 

Gordy Haynes, Orlando’s Best Home Inspection, LLC

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Gordy Haynes Property Inspector

My business dropped off about 75% during the first few months of this year. May began a better month and it’s still better than March and April. I revamped my website and SEO business to take up a little slack. All my websites are first page ranking and that income has been a saving for Debbie and I.

I continue to expand my market options as best as I can with new service offers like optional cost estimates of issues found and reach out more to brokers and agents than usual.

 

Mike Leggett, The BrickKicker

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Mike Leggett Property Inspector

We primarily reach out to our referral sources by phone. This is really the only way to connect one-on-one with real estate professionals during a pandemic. Our other initiatives that could be considered marketing are hosting Zoom roundtable discussions for real estate professionals and a “Virtual Caravan” for local agents to showcase their listings.

 

Scott Whitbeck, HomeTeam Inspection Service, LLC

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Scott Whitbeck Property Inspector

Personal phone calls and text messages have been the best marketing forum we have used. We utilize them mostly to let the agents know we are still open, and that we are trained, experienced, and know what it takes to help them keep the transaction moving forward.

 

Tom Gould, WIN Home Inspection Aurora South

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Tom Gould Property Inspector

I used social media since it’s what was available. Showing the agents that we’re trying to keep working, that we were there and available, and how we were working and taking care of the buyers and sellers helped keep myself visible and top of mind.

 

Aaron Shishilla, Waypoint Property Inspection

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Aaron Shishilla Property Inspector

Search engine optimization, social media marketing, email marketing, etc. – I prefer them over all ways of marketing. These tools are way less expensive and especially effective in building relationships over the long term without relying on personnel.

 

Eric S. Drury, Estate Group Finance, LLC

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Eric S. Drury Property Inspector

We use any affordable means that allow the market to see our image and what services we offer. Mostly my focus is with low-cost methods such as business cards, postcards, promotions, shirts, hats, vehicle signs, yard signs, and local Google ads.

 

Pam Pybas, Inspect It Like a Girl

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Pam Pybas Property Inspector

We have been focusing on social media and online reviews for a few years now. This seems to be paying off now, as most of our referrals come from our online presence. I also host a radio show.

 

Christopher Tweedie, Confidence Building Inspections

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Christopher Tweedie Property Inspector

To date, I have used Facebook and LinkedIn. I like the ability to better target our audience with Facebook-boosted posts. Zoom is also an important tool in order to continue to network and build new relationships.

 

Lance Luke, Construction Management Inspection LLC

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Lance Luke Property Inspector

I have been using social media daily to promote my three websites. I use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as my main platforms. I tested others and found these three to serve me the best.

 

Jeremy Wiseman, Wiseman Home Inspection

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Jeremy Wiseman Property Inspector

I was able to do more one-on-one outreach with real estate agents prior to COVID-19. Now my focus is more online and through email as opposed to one-on-one.

 

Mike Chamberlain, MC2 Home Inspections

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Mike Chamberlain Property Inspector

We mainly advertise online. Recent studies suggest that over 87% of people looking for a service go online first and that is the market we try to cater to.

 

Tracey Litt, Litt Home Inspection LLC

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Tracey Litt Property Inspector

Reaching out personally to buyer’s agents. That is where 90% of my business comes from.

 

Ricky Thibodeaux, Thibodeaux Inspection Services, LLC

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Ricky Thibodeaux Property Inspector

Word of mouth has been the most profitable and impactful before and during COVID-19.

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