How To Become A Real Estate Home Inspector With Little Startup Cash

The American Dream Is Big Business for Home Inspectors

For a majority of Americans, home ownership is a fundamental financial goal. It’s the American dream to find have a place to call your own, a sanctuary for your family, a place to entertain and gather with your friends and loved ones.

As a home inspector, it’s your job to protect prospective buyers from unwelcome surprises—structural defects, damage, leaks, breaks, and weak spots—that might undermine the security of their investment.


Home inspectors are typically hired by the buyer, a real estate agent, or a mortgage broker to review the property prior to a sale. Successful home inspectors are thorough, precise, and knowledgeable, but they are also friendly and communicative.

Your job is to communicate your findings clearly to the buyer, not just to uncover problems. If you love houses, but you can’t stand people, then you might be better off swinging a hammer on a work site.

Many home inspection businesses are small companies run by a single individual or a group of affiliated individuals who have banned together to share contacts, customers, and information. The hours are flexible and the overhead is basically nil.

However, in order to work as a home inspector, you will need to complete a mandatory training course, and then pass a certification exam.

Qualities That Make for Great, Successful Home Inspectors

Home inspectors need to be motivated and gregarious. Customers aren’t going to come to you, at least not at first.

If you’re planning to strike out on your own as a freelancer, then you will need to…

  • organize your business as a legal entity
  • develop marketing tools to advertise your business
  • pound the pavement to meet realtors, agents, and brokers

On the other hand, if you decide to join a firm or create a partnership with other home inspectors in your area, you might be able to focus developing a single aspect of the business, be it social media networking, direct mail advertising, or continued education and training for yourself and your partners.

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Are You Ready to Get Started Inspecting Homes?

Here is a list of steps to follow:

1. Training

There are a number of companies and associations that offer training for home inspectors, and many of the courses can be completed online in a matter of weeks. The average cost for a training course is approximately $1000.

Typically, courses focus on preparing students for a certification exam (more in a minute), however, a number of the programs also include information on forming a small business.

Training courses are a great way to begin developing your network while you prepare to launch your career as a home inspector. As a rule, never turn down an opportunity to build a relationship with a fellow student, an instructor, or a guest speaker.

2. Certification

There are two basic tests for home inspectors. The National Home Inspector Exam is administered by the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors; the test includes about 200 questions covering all aspects of personal property inspection. The NHIE exam costs $225 and takes approximately 4 hours to complete.

The InterNACHI Online Inspector Examination is a free online exam administered by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. The test is similar in scope to the NHIE exam; unlike the NHIE, the InterNACHI test is recognized internationally. And did we mention that it’s free?

Deciding which exam to take is largely a matter of defining your goals. If you hope to join a specific professional association, then find what the organization requires of its members.

3. Develop a Reporting System and Promote Your Business

The inspection report is your most powerful marketing tool and, potentially, your biggest start-up expense. As an inspector, you will collect raw data during your walk-throughs, then you or an assistant will need to process the data to produce reports that your customers can understand.

Do you want to create mobile platform for your reports? What do your customers expect? How much money and time are you willing to invest in creating each report? How does this effect your bottom line?

Home inspection can be a lucrative career for a self-motivated jack-of-all-trades type. Getting started is simple and inexpensive, but building your business will take time. So what are you waiting for?

Do you have another great tip on a self-employment business opportunity that can be started for little or no cash?

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