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Home inspections are a normal part of a home purchase today, and according to the National Association of Realtors, more than 77% of all home purchases now involve a home inspection. It wasn’t always this way; 30 years ago the idea of hiring someone to inspect a home was new to the market.
Home inspectors often took an adversarial role with Realtors and scared off potential home buyers. Early home inspectors were often not licensed or trained, and standards varied by inspector and by house. Some inspections were detailed and accurate. Others contained faulty information and misleading claims of problems.
Homes either “passed” or “failed” an inspection, and Realtors and home sellers began to dread home inspections. Home inspectors began to get a poor reputation — thanks in part to those who dressed sloppily and drove sketchy-looking vehicles filled haphazardly with equipment. In the early days, home inspectors sometimes torpedoed home sales by spooking buyers unnecessarily. Realtors lost out on commissions, and buyers walked away from homes that might have been a perfect fit.
WIN Home Inspection owners Tom and Dianne Knapp, a real estate developer and a well-known Seattle broker, saw a clear need for someone to walk a homeowner through a home and give them clarity on the condition of the home. They knew that if home inspectors followed national standards, showed up in a crisp and professional uniform, drove a non-threatening vehicle and, most importantly, took time with owners to explain not only the issues of a house, but how to operate the major systems and how to clearly understand the condition, they could help rather than hinder the process of buying the right home.
They launched World Home Inspection, which evolved into the WIN Home Inspection franchise, in 1993, and their new approach to home inspections garnered a lot of attention. WIN quickly dominated Washington state and began a nationwide expansion that has taken us into almost 30 states, with more than 175 territories.
We set ourselves apart by offering a consistent, professional experience that home buyers appreciate and real estate agents respect. Training, technology and marketing support help our franchise owners develop loyal relationships in the real estate industry that lead to a steady stream of customer referrals.
WIN’s professionalism and spirit of cooperation have been rewarded. Total revenue has increased 31% over the past two years even as the number of franchise owners has remained steady amid the recovering economy.
Home inspection franchising: the real estate market has bounced back
The strengthening economy bodes well for professional home inspectors.
Home sales rose 19% from 2010 to 2014, and as the economy continues to improve, a wave of pent-up demand is expected.
Why? Millennials struggled to form households during and in the immediate aftermath of the recession, with many holing up with their parents of sharing apartments. That’s already changing.
The Census Bureau estimated that household formation surged to 1.7 million in 2014, from 400,000 the previous year.
That swell of buyers is significant for home inspectors because nearly every buyer purchases a home inspection. According to the National Association of Realtors, 99% of real estate agents recommend that clients purchase a home inspection, and 77% of home buyers take that advice.