April, 2011
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Editor's Note: Resilience

SANDY BOURSEAU

Traditionally, as winter fades and spring arrives, we take a deep breath and get ready to have good things happen. This spring, we see economic indicators edging up and the unemployment rate inching down. But when a country is working itself back from the brink of economic collapse, progress can be agonizingly slow. This is especially true for people dependent on the real estate market, where financial problems first reared their ugly heads.

In October of 2007, with the Dow reaching an-all time high, there was talk of trouble in the housing industry, but it was dismissed as being regional. A year and four months later, the Dow was at its post-1997 low, 50 percent under its all-time high, and no one was denying that the housing bubble had burst, spewing reports of questionable and sometimes criminal practices.

Recently, I read that according to the National Association of Realtors®, the number of homes bought with cash jumped to 32% in January (2011) compared with 26% a year earlier. "In Southern California, about 30% of the sales in January were cash," according to DataQuick Information Systems. "Same thing in Denver. In Phoenix and Las Vegas, cash sales topped 50% of all deals."

It occurred to me that these reports reflect that those who have the resources to do so are adapting to the continuing turmoil in real estate financing. I'm guessing that some of these cash sales were short sales, foreclosures, etc.

We know that ASHI members also are adapting to the continuing challenges of making a living in the real estate industry — we know that because you're still here with us. This would bear witness to the resilience of people who belong to ASHI and who built a home inspection business that manages to survive.

Could there be experiences worth sharing?

For instance, are foreclosed properties a significant percentage of your inspections? If so, how do you get this business and what are the unique concerns with this type of inspection?

Ten years ago, half of ASHI's members reported doing some commercial inspections, but most did only a few a year. Are you doing more commercial inspections than you were doing five or 10 years ago? Have you expanded the services you offer? How has this contributed to your bottom line?

In short, how has your business model changed since the bubble burst? If you'd like to share your story, I'd like to hear from you. Please e-mail me at sandyb@ashi.org.