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March 2018

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Investing In Real Estate You Will Be Working With Inspectors

If you are involved in investment real estate, sooner or later you are going to have to deal with an inspector of some type. It could be a building, plumbing, electrical, housing, rental. Section 8, etc., inspector, but no matter what type, they often they have the same effect on investors DEAD.

I have three tips that will have 97% of your inspections, regardless of the type go smooth, friendly and without problems.

1. GIVE YOUR HONEST EFFORT IN COMPLYING WITH REQUIREMENTS. So many inspectors are tired of people trying to fake repairs or get truly unsafe or problem areas overlooked. These people do have a responsibility to perform their job. If they can see that you have made an honest effort and done your best with a repair or requirement, you will find they are generally quite willing to work WITH you.

2. DON"T ASSUME. If you aren't clear exactly as to what is required or what the inspector wants, don't assume anything, just ask them. Most people never do this, they are afraid they will irritate the inspector by asking to many questions, etc., but I guarantee that you will have far less problems with an inspector by being very clear up front than trying to "squeeze" by at the last minute. Often, what the inspector will require is less than you may be planning to do.

3. BELIEVE THAT THE INSPECTOR IS A PERSON LIKE YOU. They have a job to do that is purposeful and worthwhile and they want to do it well. IT IEN'T PERSONAL ABOUT YOU (Although it can become personal).

Don't misunderstand me, there are inspectors out there that are truly sadistic, petty, power hungry little dictators, but these are TRULY the exception. There is always going to be a certain percentage of people in every field like this, but give your inspector the benefit of the doubt. I have dealt with many inspectors over the years and known a few personally out of work. The one thing they all express to me was how difficult it can be for them to do their job when people approach them like they are out to get them personally; they are simply doing their job.

EVEN WHN IT COMES TO DOING THEIR JOB, it doesn't always mean that an inspector is going to be stuck on every little detail. Most look for what they call "substantial compliance", in other words, were you really trying to comply or slide by. There is one last secret in this, AN INSPECTOR NEEDS TO FIND SOMETHING WRONG. How would an inspector's boss know if the inspector wasn't doing their job? Because they never found any problems. A technique that some landlords I know use is to purposely leave certain small things unfinished to give inspectors things to write them up for, allowing them not to have to look hard to find other problems. Generally a few missing switch plate covers, maybe a missing smoke detector, etc., can be enough to divert attention from other things and keep the list of things you have to do to a minimum.

In closing, if you simply remember that inspectors are people too and will generally respond with what you give them, you will be fine. But if you are going to fight and be at odds with them you will often end up the looser. There is a sign up in the inspector's office in a Mid-Michigan county that sums it up well I think:

"Arguing with a building inspector is like wrestling with a pig in the mud. Sooner or later, you will realize the pig enjoys it"