As an agent, once you’ve written an offer on a home that is when the work really begins as clients ask questions like how they will know if there is something wrong with the property.

John Jennings III,  a licensed REALTOR® for Mid State Realty in Coalinga, Calif., wrote in Realty Times that a home inspector alleviates those worries and are a critical part of the home buying process.

“A great inspector will examine the property thoroughly and inform the clients of their findings promptly. A poor inspector has the potential to gum up the entire process and leave clients unsure about how to proceed.”

There are several key things to look for in a home inspector according to Jennings.

When interviewing or suggesting an inspector to a client, consider how long they have been in business. The longer they have been examining homes, the more likely they are to notice issues that may have been missed by a novice inspector.

Second, know how long it takes an inspector to review a property. According to Jennings, a quality inspection can take upwards of two hours for a typical residential home. Your clients are making a huge investment and if you are recommending an inspector, your reputation is on the line. Don’t settle for someone who spends only 30 minutes inspecting clients’ homes.

Agents and clients also can vet inspector by reviewing reports completed on other homes.  Jenkins noted that f the report has forty to sixty pages filled with pictures and details about the house, you can be confident the inspector was meticulous. He also noted it is imperative to ask what will NOT be included in the report. Sprinkler systems are one item rarely reviewed in inspections.

“A home inspection is a general inspection of the home. If you want a more detailed review of things like solar systems or pool equipment, you will need to contact someone specific to that trade.”

Buyer agents and their clients also will want to be present for the inspection, particularly its conclusion. Jenkins points out that some agents believe their client needs to be there for every minute, while others think the report alone is sufficient.

“I recommend clients do a walk through with the inspector after he has completed reviewing the property. If he needs to stop every 2 minutes to explain something to you, the inspection will take too long, and he may become distracted and miss something.”

As an agent, it is important to know who the good home inspectors are in your market so you can make a solid suggestion to your clients. Jenkins noted that agents often are asked for a referral by clients and a good agent should know who to use and who to stay away from.