What is a cookie cutter home inspector?
The simple definition is a home inspector who performs multiple home inspections in a day.
Why should you care?
There are some cookie cutters who perform up to 4 home inspections per day! That is 4 “complete” home inspections, travel time, report writing time, delivery and numerous other home inspector duties that the general public typically has no knowledge of or really cares about.
Now ask yourself this question: just how thorough can this home inspector be?
Why are cookie cutters so busy?
Most cookie cutters reside inside the real estate agents pocket. These are the guys you hear about who are in and out of a home in an hour and find little to nothing wrong with the home. These are the guys that spend countless hours and fistfuls of money marketing to real estate agents for referrals. As a matter of fact, some of them spend more time and effort marketing to real estate agents than they do inspecting your home. I have personally known cookie cutters who would drop by a real estate agents office to drop off bribery gifts for referrals on the way to YOUR home inspection!
What is a REAL home inspection and what should I look for?
A real home inspection typically lasts about 3-4 hours at the property (depending on age, foundation type and the overall size of the home).
Is the home inspector in a hurry?
The home inspector should not be in any hurry during the inspection. A home inspection is a very mentally and physically demanding job and requires a great deal of attention. The inspector should have a set way of inspecting the home and should be methodically picking it apart inside and out and room to room.
Does the home inspector talk?
The home inspector should be talking to you during the inspection and alerting you to his findings as he goes along. The inspector should also be answering any questions you may have as he makes his way through the home. Many cookie cutters aren’t very good talkers as they are typically in too much of a hurry to get to their next inspection. If they talk too much, that takes up too much of their time. You want an inspector who talks!
Does the home inspector take photos during the inspection?
The home inspector should be taking digital photos. LOTS of digital photos! This is to ensure that everything is properly documented not only in writing but also in photographs. This protects not only you but also the inspector.
Do you understand the home inspector?
Before the inspector leaves the home, he should make sure that you fully understand what just happened. A home inspection can be very overwhelming for some home buyers, particularly first timers. It is the home inspectors job to make sure you understand everything that is wrong with the home and the severity of any issues found before he even leaves the property.
When do you get the home inspection report?
Most cookie cutters will provide a report on site before they leave. They like to use the onsite reports in their marketing efforts to give everyone the warm and fuzzies and while it may seem appealing to receive your inspection report before you leave the home, these on site reports are nowhere near as thorough as a home based software report. The onsite reports typically consist of checklists with very little verbiage describing the actual condition of the home. These reports are quick for the inspector so he can move on to his next inspection. They are not so good for the home buyer as many of them tend to lack important and relevant information concerning the home.
A good home inspector will go home, upload his photos and take his time writing up the report. A good home inspection report should take a minimum of 2 hours to complete and be somewhere north of 30 pages in length. The inspector goes through his notes and photos and puts things together in such a manner where everyone involved in the transaction understands the true condition of the home. There should be absolutely no guesswork involved when reading through an inspection report.
A good home inspector should also encourage you to ask any questions you may have AFTER you receive the inspection report. Can you call or email if you have any questions after receiving the inspection report? Can you talk to the actual home inspector or do you have to talk to their answering service? In this business it should not be a one and done deal. Good home inspectors are in it for the long haul and understand the importance of client retention and wrap around. Service after the inspection is key.
So the next time you are in need of a home inspector, make sure to ask them how many inspections they perform in a day. If they say anything more than two, do yourself a favor and keep looking!